Boudhanath (also known as Boudha, pronounced 'Bo-da') is 7 km east/northeast of Kathmandu. It is home to one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world, built during the 5th century AD.
For centuries, Boudhanath has been an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalis. It is located on what was a major trade route between Nepal and Tibet. Many traveling merchants used it as a resting place. It is also a popular tourist site. In 1979, Boudha became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Great Stupa of Boudhanath is the focal point of the district. There are at least 29 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries & Nunneries) around Boudhanath. The culture is very much Himalayan with a strong presence of Tibetans & Sherpas, as can be evidenced by the number of restaurants selling momos, thukpa & other Tibetan favourites. Many maroon-clad Tibetan Buddhist monks & nuns can be seen walking around Boudha, especially at the Stupa. As a daily ritual, many people walk three or more times around the stupa while repeating the mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' either quietly or aloud. During the days of & surrounding the full moons, the air is often thick with incense & mantras sung by monks, & the number of people visiting the Stupa increases significantly, along with the intensity of their mantras & prayers. Boudha is a fascinating & very spiritual area. Most of the restaurants & shops are closed by 20:00.
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