30 Seconds: Boudha Stupa

I’m breaking over a month’s blogging silence with a new feature that I hope will help me share some of the sights and impression of Nepal so much better and improve my video skills as well: a short 30-second film on a topic. I’m hoping to do this regularly, at least twice a month. Here we go…starting with the fascinating Boudhnath Stupa in Kathmandu. Enjoy! (and feedback welcome!)

Boudhha: A Little Wash and Brush Up

Boudha Stupa is probably THE cultural destination in Kathmandu…for a reason. It is an extremely atmospheric place that continues to be a fascinating draw for me even after 18 months of living here, and my blog header for reason. There aren’t that many tourists but those that do come, click away at the mesmerizing Stupa eyes, and every tourist must have something similar to this iconic shot:

Yet we got to see a different side of the Stupa this weekend. It turned out to be a maintenance routine day, and it was fascinating to watch.  It gave me a much better sense of its scale (and vulnerability) to see the guys up there with ladders.

Buddha eyes, Buddhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

It started with a guy and a ladder. “What’s he up to?” we thought.


Buddha eyes

Maybe an eyelash problem? Smudged makeup?  No.  Must be something else… ;o)


Buddha eyes, boudhaneth Stupa

It turned out that he was the advance party, heading up to the top part of the face. His job was to drape a fresh skirt around the temple. (I’m sure its not called a skirt, but I have no idea of its name or its religious significance? Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

Next the painter showed up.  We saw buckets of what looked like whitewash and, sure enough, in a few minutes more guys showed up with more buckets and a very fast “paint job” was underway.  Whitewash isn’t paint and behaves very differently.  (If you’re interested in how to whitewash see my earlier post).  I’m sure our Greek friends would be interested to see the “chuck it” method of whitewash application!


There did actually appear to be skill in the throwing method. The whitewash was was thrown in an arch. The archs were carefully  spaced out and, if you look carefully, you can see that the whitewash has repeatedly been thrown in the same places so that they form a pattern.



So having solved the mystery of arches on Nepalese stupas, I also answered another question:  The thickly encrusted white stripes on the base of stupas comes from years of dribbled whitewash, not pigeon poop.  Phew!

Boudha in the Rain

Boudha Stupa Kathmandu

Entering Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa is one of the most popular places to visit in Kathmandu.  Its in the Buddhist section of town and a huge center of Buddhism in the city. We visited a while back when we first arrived in the city, but I didn’t have the chance to take pictures until now.

Dusk was falling and so was the rain. I was disappointed because I finally had my camera and a chance to capture the experience on film and the rain threatened the opportunity. But it quickly became intriguing how the umbrellas added to the atmosphere and pretty soon I found myself taking pictures of a very different Boudha.  Here are a few of my favourite shots:

Boudha Stupa Kathmandu

The parade of umbrellas traveled clockwise around the Stupa. The clockwise only rule still applies in the rain!

Boudha Stupa Kathmandu

As dusk fell, the decorative lights started to turn on…

Boudha Stupa Kathmandu

…and the Buddha eyes looked down.

Boudha Stupa Kathmandu

The stores selling Buddhist trinkets and religious items started to close….

Old tibetan man

…but the devout carried on with their prayers.

Boudha Stupa Kathmandu

The whole stupa was lit with thousands of fairy lights, which washed the temple with colour…


…and a spectacular sight when darkness came.