On the eastern side of Kathmandu, just north of the airport and around 6km from Thamel, is Boudhanath, home to one of the world-s largest stupas. The village, also known as Boudha, is the religious centre for Nepal-s considerable population of Tibetan exiles, and the sidestreets are full of maroon-robed Tibetan (and foreign) monks, gleaming monastery roofs and shopfronts full of Tibetan texts and yak butter. This is one of the few places in the world where Tibetan culture is accessible, vibrant and unfettered.
Bodhnath has always been linked to Tibetan Buddhism and Lhasa. A major trade route coming from Lhasa went through Sankhu, and Bodhnath therefore lies at the Tibetan traders entry to Kathmandu. One can easily imagine the traders giving thanks for their successful journey across the Himalaya, or praying for a safe return. People (including mountaineers and Sherpas) still come here to pray before undertaking a journey in the Himalaya. The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha.
Apart from the local Tibetans and Nepalese, there-s a sizeable community of foreign Buddhist students. Late afternoon is a good time to visit Bodhnath, when the group tours depart and the place once again becomes a Tibetan village. Prayer services are held in the surrounding gompas and, as the sun sets, the community turns out to circumambulate the stupa - a ritual that combines religious observance with social event. It-s a wonderful feeling to be swept around by the centrifugal force of faith - remember to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction. Boudhanath was founded by the Nepalese Licchavi king Sivadeva (c. 590-604 CE); though other Nepalese chronicles date it to the reign of King Mānadeva (464-505 CE). Tibetan sources claim a mound on the site was excavated in the late 15th or early 16th century and the bones of king Aṃshuvarma 605-621 were discovered there. However, the Tibetan emperor, Trisong Detsan (r. 755 to 797) is also traditionally associated with the construction of the Boudhanath Stupa. Yolmo Ngagchang Sakya Zangpo from Helambu resurrected Boudhanath.