Today I had breakfast with my new friends, then attended the morning Dharma talk by the Israeli monk. After lunch, Paola and I decided to take a stroll to the nearby “animal temple” pointed out by some of the monks.
We could see the temple on the level ground downhill from the monastery. However, after walking for several minutes, we clearly were not heading in the correct direction to reach the temple, and were unable to get meaningful guidance from some locals nor from some monks we encountered during our walk. Previously I had told Paola I had wanted to go to Boudhanath, billed as the largest Buddhist stupa in Asia by Lonely Planet, so we decided to go there instead.
We had to ask directions of the locals on several occasions, and thankfully everyone knew Boudhanath and pointed us in the right direction. We arrived at “Boudha” (as most people seemed to call it) after about 45 minutes.
It was indeed the biggest stupa I had ever seen. We went up a small stone staircase to the base of the stupa, about one storey above ground level. We then strolled around the entire circumference of the stupa, which took several minutes. I enjoyed looking at the varied architecture of the buildings on the street encircling the stupa. Some of the buildings were very plain, but others had elaborately carved wood decorations around the windows and doors. Still others were actually Buddhist temples and monasteries, set up intentionally near this very auspicious and sacred stupa.
After returning to street level we then entered one of the buildings on the street and ascended to the third floor where there was a rooftop cafe overlooking the stupa and the street below. We had some tea and chatted for a while before embarking on the return journey, which, despite being partially uphill, was much shorter than our trip there. It seemed we had previously taken a very circuitous route.