Bodhnath Stupa is one of the world’s largest Buddhist stupas, and the centre of Tibetan Buddhism outside of its home country. Bodhnath is a wonderfully atmospheric place to wander, with robed monks and numerous shrines all conspiring to trick visitors into thinking they are strolling through Lhasa. And at its centre stands the stupa. What at first appears to be simply a fabulously colourful confection is actually an intricate mimicking of the Buddhist cosmos, with the elements, cardinal points, earth and water all symbolised in the building’s design.The current stupa structure was probably built after the depredation of the Mughal invaders in the 14th century. Stupas were originally built to house holy relics. It is not certain if there is anything interred at Bodhnath, but some believe that there is a piece of bone that once belonged to the Buddha.
At the centre stands perhaps the stupa’s most beautiful detail: the Harmika, the square construction painted with gold on each side and with the eyes of Buddha. Standing on the Stupa’s base, taking in the spectacular surrounding mountain views while listening to the chanting prayers of the devout is a hypnotic experience, a perfect first fix of Nepal’s traditions and stunning scenery.