The South Asian country Nepal is home to some of the world’s awe-inspiring centuries-old stupas
I have travelled to quite a number of destinations, but I still believe that Nepal is among my top favourites. Its capital Kathmandu, with a history spanning almost 2000 years, is unlike any other capitals in the world. Temples and squares as well as ancient shrines called stupas are declared as UNESCO Heritage Sites – favoured over shiny skyscrapers. Stupas were simply burial grounds back in the prehistoric days, but later evolved into religious monuments following Shakyamuni Buddha’s death. Today, the stupas in Nepal are as much a tourist attraction as they are places of pilgrimage and prayer, and here are 2 of the sacred shrines that are worth a visit at least once in your lifetime:
A place so beautiful and peaceful, it merits more than one visit. Built in 600 A.D. and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the imposing shrine, which is considered one of the biggest and holiest in the world, is on an ancient trading route from Tibet to the center of Kathmandu. The best way to experience the place is by joining people chant “om mane padme om” as they circle the stupa clockwise (walking counter-clockwise is considered bad luck) and rotate the prayer wheels, or simply watch the sunset from one of the cafes or restaurants that surround the monument.
Perched on a hill atop Kathmandu Valley, the Swayambhunath stupa is considered the most sacred Buddhist shrine, next to the Boudhanath. Also known as Monkey Temple (a nickname it received because of the holy monkeys living in the area), the complex can be reached via a stairs with 365 steps from its entrance. The climb is worth it, however, as you won’t only be rewarded by magnificent temples, ancient prayer wheels and the stupa, but a magnificent view of Kathmandu valley below as well. Since its foundation some 1,500 years ago, the monument has been renovated 15 times, its recent one in 2010 where the dome was re-plated using 20kg of gold.