It is the religious centre for Nepal's considerable population of Tibetans and there are a number of thriving monasteries and many shops selling Tibetan artefacts. This is one of the few places in the world where Tibetan culture is accessible, vibrant and unfettered.
Monasteries are everywhere (near and far) around.
Many of these Tibetans are refugees who fled their country following the unsuccessful uprising against the Chinese Communists in 1959. They have been both energetic and successful in the intervening years, as the large houses surrounding Bodhnath testify.
Remember to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction!
They do - of course!
Apart from the local Tibetans and Nepalis there's a sizable community of foreign Buddhist students, which contributes to occasional factional tensions between the various different schools.
Bodhnath has always been associated with Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhism. One of the major trade routes 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 still come here to pray before undertaking a journey in the Himalaya."
LONELY PLANET, 6th, 2003, p. 170-171.
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