Nepal has an abundance of natural beauty and splendid mountains. It is a country of great religious importance. People from all over the world, especially Hindus and Buddhists, travel to Nepal as pilgrims. Yes, you got it right! Though Hindu is the primary religion here, Buddhism comes second in the list. But Hinduism has spread rapidly in Nepal, and in many cases, it has absorbed Buddhism aswell. In 2001, the Buddhist population was 10.74%, and in 2011 it was down to 9%.
In many cases, you will find that Hindus share Buddhist gods or goddesses and temples. One such example is the Muktinath Temple, which is a commonplace of worship for Buddhists and Hindus. In spite of that, you will come across a few must-see Buddhist monasteries among so many Hindu temples. So, let us discuss some of these monasteries in this blog below:
Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At Lumbini, you will easily find several ancient and old monasteries and stupas. Some of these structures date back 2000 years back. Lumbini is well known for scriptures study, meditation, yoga, and trek. So, it is one of the must-see places in Nepal. In Sanskrit, Lumbini means "The Lovely," and its name is justified.
Each of the monasteries at Lumbini is distinct and different from each other in style and architecture. You will come across various beautiful facades and paintings all over the monasteries. The Mayadevi Temple is the standout site in Lumbini. It is the most sacred of all the temples as it is the place where Gautam Buddha was born. As per legend, Queen Mayadevi was known to have rested under the Bodhi Tree before giving birth to Lord Buddha. This tree is a symbol of peace and spiritual calmness.
Apart from that, the sacred pond-Pushkarini and Ashoka stupa, which dates back to 249 BC, are some of the attractive sites in this place. If you love trekking, then do not miss to try the Lumbini Trek Circuit. The trek trail will take you through 64 historical sites and some villages teeming with local culture and unparalleled hospitality. The entry fee to Lumbini is 200 NPR for foreign nationals. And for Nepalese, it is entirely free.
Also known as the Seto Gomba and Amitabha Monastery is another Buddhist monastery that is of extreme religious importance. You will be left mesmerized to experience the sunset and sunrise on the backdrop of the beautiful terrain and vivid landscape all around. The monastery is at 1500 m above sea level, which is a vantage point for you to watch over most of the Kathmandu Valley.
The serene and peaceful atmosphere around draws tourists from various parts of the world to get released from the bustling and hectic city life for a while. And guess what you will need to pay just 40 NPR. Hence for its beautiful architecture, the lovely landscape around it and the peaceful surrounding makes it the second most visited monastery in Nepal.
Swayambhunath Stupa is based on the top of the Semgu Hill and is one of the most sought after religious destination for pilgrims in Kathmandu. While visiting this temple, you can easily see the beautiful white dome-shaped Stupa and several Shrines. Because of some of these unique features of this temple, which draws tourists and pilgrims to this place. Tourists circumnavigate the temple as legend says that it washes off your sins.
The temple is also known as Swayambhunath Stupa and Sawayambhu Maha Chaitya. You can see most of the Kathmandu Valley from here. The temple is also a permanent residence for many monkeys, so it is also known as "Monkey Temple". The temple does not charge any entry fee against Nepalese Citizens. But foreign nationals have to pay 200 NPR as an entry fee. You can visit the temple any time as there is no particular time bracket.
This monastery is on the beautiful Kopan Hills on the outskirts of the city of Kathmandu. And hence the name! The monastery is stunning in its looks and is founded between 1960 - 1970. People who are interested to learn about Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism flock to this place to get enlightened. Often tourists enroll themselves in short courses to learn about the ancient lifestyle and ways of living.
The surrounding around the monastery is vivid and peaceful. Most tourists flock here to enjoy the calm atmosphere of the place. As a tourist, you can enjoy lovely vegetarian meals and also take a walk inside the beautiful gardens of the monastery. The monastery campus does not have restricted entry, and anyone can pass through its gates. But making noise is not permissible inside the campus.
Boudhanath Stupa is about 11 km apart from the city of Kathmandu. Its exquisite architecture draws tourists and pilgrims from various places every day. It is said that if you take a round around the Stupa wholeheartedly, all your past sins are cleansed. In 1979, UNESCO recognized this Stupa as a World Heritage Site.
The Boudhanath Stupa is known by several names over some time, such as Buddha Stupa, Chorten Chempo, Chaitya, Jarung Khashor, and the Khasi. The remains of Kassapa Buddha are buried in its spot. The massive size of the Stupa makes it one of the largest in Asia. If you are Nepalese, then there is no entry fee. For foreign nationals, it will cost 400 NPR.
This monastery comes next in the list among the must-see monasteries in Nepal. The monastery came to its existence after being founded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Though you will find some parts of the monastery destroyed due to the 2015 earthquake, reconstruction work is still on. One of the unique features of this monastery is the 150 various statues present inside the monastery. You will also come across one of the largest Tibetan libraries along with 500 monks who are based out there.
Pranidhipurna Mahavihar is a Theravada Buddhist monastery and located in Balambu, Kathmandu. It is the place where Therevada Buddhism started in the 1940s. The monastery is also known to many as Balamabu Bihar. While your visit there, you will come across many Monks and Nuns who live there. The monastery is known to organize and conduct many religious and social services like Health Camps and so on. So, when you are here in Nepal, do not miss to pay a visit to the birthplace of Theravada Buddhism.
So, Nepal is not a place with a beautiful landscape, serene atmosphere, and magnificent hills. The place also has rich cultural and religious importance. Nepal is the land of some well known Buddhist Monasteries. While you are here, do pay a visit to these mystic monasteries and return your home with pleasant memories and a peaceful mind.