Something everyone who visits Kathmandu should do is take the short bus ride to Bouddhanath stupa. It is one of the largest stupas in the world, and at about 120 ft in height and about 300 ft in diameter it is definitely the largest one in Nepal. A stupa (or chorten) is a mound created by buddhists to help worship the Lord Buddah by commemorating an event or marking a holy spot. They can range a great deal in size but all have a similar look and many house some sort of religious relic in the base.
Andy and I had seen many stupas in Laddakh and we were always very impressed by the structures, but when we saw this bohemouth we were
awestruck. Upon entering the courtyard of the stupa we immediately had to tilt our heads completely back to be able to see the tall yellow spire on top and the large painted Buddha eyes looking down at us. There were long strands of prayer flags stretching from the spire to various points on buildings across the courtyard and all around the enormous base were hundreds of prayer wheels that Buddhists were constantly spinning clockwise as they simultaneously walked in a circle clockwise around the stupa. There were also steps leading up the stupa so that people could actually stand on the huge base and be even in height with the second stories of the surrounding restaurants.
It was a really neat experience to join the mass of people circling the stupa and to see all of their methods of prayer. Some people were very serious while others talked with one another, and some people meandered slowly while others were almost running. The afternoon we spent at Bouddhanath stupa went by too fast and made us wish that we had more time to spend looking around the maze-like streets in the surrounding area, but after the sun went down we hopped on a bus and headed back to Thamel.