Link is copied to clipboard.

Boudhanath Stupa


Bouddhanath Stupa is one among the seven ‘UNESCO world heritage sites’ of Kathmandu Valley. Bouddhanath is also known by the names such as Khasti Chaitya, Khashau Chaitya, Khasto Chaitya and the Khasa Chaitya and lies 5km away from the northeast of central Kathmandu. It is believed that the name Khasti is associated with ‘Khasa’, a town of Tibet which lies on the way between Lhasa and Nepal. The Bouddhanath Stupa has been a place of pilgrimage and veneration throughout the ages for Buddhists from different parts the world.

Structure of the Stupa

Bouddhanath Stupa of Nepal demonstrates the finest example of the Nepalese stupa architectural design. This massive stupa stands over a 3 tired crossed rectangles designed in a tantric Mandala from. This unique, exquisite design and its massive size and dimension has made it a rare piece of the traditional Nepalese stupa architecture. The stupa covers an area of 82.36×82.03m and its total height is 36m. Moreover, unlike the other existing stupas in Nepal, this stupa has only one image of Dhyani Buddha, the Akchhobhya, which has been installed on its northern side dome’s base.

This stupa has an enclosure wall all around it and has a total of 735 metal prayer wheels fixed into its 147 cabinet like chambers. Each prayer wheel contains the popular Buddhist Mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” embossed on them in the Newari script popularly in uses in the medieval times.

The stupa has its main entrance on the northern side, from where the devotees can approach to the base of the stupa for a holy circumambulation. To its northern side’s main entrance, a separate temple dedicated to the Goddess Hariti (Ajima) has been built in a rectangular plan with a metallic roof over it. To the top of Bouddhanath Stupa’s dome, a Haramika has been erected. Over this, a thirteen layered wooden rings have been erected, which are according to the Buddhist religious belief, represent the different mental stages of human beings which have to be crossed before attending final salvation, the Nirvana.

Historical Background and Legends

According to legends, a lady named “Sukontama” is the one who erected this magnificent stupa this magnificent stupa was built on top of the holy corporal remnants of the sixth moral Buddha, ‘Kasyapa.’ The same story also has the reference of her two sons, Guru Padmasambhav and Dalai Lama who in order to fulfill their mother’s desire, took several births and preached Buddhism in Tibet.

Likewise, another legends say that “Chabahil Chaitya”, another significant Buddhist stupa nearby Bouddhanath stupa, was built using the leftover materials of the Bouddhanath Stupa. According to the stone inscriptions found in the Chabahil Chaitya, the construction work of the Chabahil Chaitya must have been done in the Lichhavi period itself. Evidences belonging to the same period is abundant here in the form of stone inscriptions and sculptures that have a distinct Lichhavi traits and features on them.

Furthermore, a legend is prevalent regarding the naming of Bouddhanath Stupa as Khasto Chaitya. According to which, an acute shortage of water was there at the time of construction of Bouddhanath Stupa which could be overcome by collecting a large quantity of morning dew with the help of a large piece of cloth (Shawl), locally known as a Khasto and the stupa thus got this name.


The number of pilgrims increase here especially on festive occasions like Lhosar, Buddha Purnima etc. During Lhosar, the entire stupa along with its surroundings are decorated and lit. This is a New Year’s Day festival for Tibetans and some Nepalese as well and falls between the second half of January and the first half of February every year. Another important festive event that occurs here is the Twelve year’s festival which falls once in every twelve years’ interval. It is believed that it took twelve long years to complete building this stupa and this festival is organized to commemorate that special event.

Similarly another festival falls on the full moon day of the month Magh (January-February). During this festival, a chariot ceremony of Mhyazima is performed. During this occasion, a grand religious procession takes a round of the locality along with the chariot. In the same way, another chariot festival is organized and celebrated here on the full Moon day of the month of Baishak (May-June) to mark the auspicious birth day of Lord Buddha. In this occasion, the chariot with the idols of Buddha is taken to the various places within the locality accompanied by a grand religious procession with it.

Bouddhanath stupa has been a very sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site for most of the Buddhists of the world. It also has been a center of Buddhist learnings and religious activities since very long.


Charleux, I. (2019). The Cult of Boudhanath Stupa/Jarung Khashar Suvraga in Mongolia: Texts, Images, and Architectural Replicas. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review8(2), 368-425.

Young, T. O. S., & Roös, P. B. (2014). Boudhanath Stupa: Reflections on Living Architecture.

Shakya, M. B. (1997). Boudhanath.

Parajuli, N. B. (2018). Cultural heritage and community engagement: exploring participatory approaches in Nepal.

Saul, H., & Waterton, E. (2017). Heritage and communities of compassion in the aftermath of the great earthquake, Nepal: A photographic reflection. Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage4(3), 142-156.


Discover exactly where it is on the map


Share your thoughts

0 Discussion
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments