Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, boasts numerous Buddhist shrines, temples, and ancient monasteries. These sacred sites attract pilgrims and tourists from across Asia and beyond, seeking spiritual solace and cultural exploration amidst their serene surroundings. Tourism is another important factor in promoting Nepali Buddhism to the world.
Today, in this blog, we will let you know about the top places of Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal. From the Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal, you can deeply understand the rudiments of Buddhism.
You will understand that Nepal is a true example of a mix of culture and religion after you visit the major Buddhist Pilgrimage sites. While the major population of the country is Hindu, it is an amazing fact that Buddha was born here, and so Buddhism is pervasive in most corners of Nepalese culture.
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Lumbini, known to the world as the birthplace of the lord Buddha, and adjoining areas a task to Lord Buddha is deemed a major tourist destination. Lumbini has gained a towering status not only as a sacred place of religious importance but also from a tourism point of view. Precisely, the Lumbini has been listed as a World Heritage Site. It’s also seen as a center for world peace.
According to Buddhist tradition, Queen Maya Devi, the mother of Buddha, gave birth to him while she was travelling to her maternal home in Lumbini in 563 BC. The site of Lumbini was rediscovered in 1896 by a Nepalese archaeologist, and since then, it has been excavated and restored by several International Teams.
Today, the Lumbini complex has several temples, monasteries, and other sacred sites related to Buddha’s life and teachings. It is an important destination for those who are interested in Buddhism and its history, as well as for those who seek spiritual and cultural enrichment.
Here are the famous monasteries that you should take advantage of while visiting Lumbini.
- World Peace Pagoda
- Cambodian Monastery
- The Great Drigung Kagyud Lotus Stupa
- Royal Thai Monastery
- Myanmar Golden Temple
- Eternal Peace Flame
If there is one place that is an example of serenity in chaos, it is Boudhanath Stupa, located in Kathmandu, Nepal. In the midst of Kathmandu’s hustle and bustle, there stands a ginormous white dome towering over you, with its unblinking eyes beaming with peace and serenity. Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is the largest stupa in Nepal. It is also one of the Holiest Tibetan Buddhist temples outside of Tibet.
The monument shape is a pageant mandala, which is a cosmological map to enlightenment or Bodhi. This is where it got its name from. Inside the temple, it is a world of its own. Every bit of Boudhanath temple represents elements of life and a path to enlightenment. And there are hundreds of praying flags tied to the stupa fluttering in the wind, carrying the mantras from the earth to the heavens.
For generations, Tibetan merchants have found solace here, taking respite and offering prayers for centuries. It is undeniable that you feel a sense of calmness and divinity when you are inside the mandala, either spinning the wheel or watching the prayer flag fluttering in the winds, carrying your prayers to heaven.
It is among one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal. It is located in Kathmandu and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine has two entries: a stairway of 365 steps leading directly to the front of the stupa and a vehicle road around the hill that approaches the shrine from the southwestern side. While hiking to the ancient stairways, you will get your first introduction to the hundreds of precious monkey’s that live here. That’s another reason this temple is also known as the Monkey Temple.
You can get great views of the stupa from the viewing deck, and from behind, you can see the stunning 360-degree panorama of Kathmandu Valley. You can find hundreds of small statues of Buddha and Hindu god statues, including the famous Sithila Devi temple. This temple is an excellent example of the two beliefs that work together in Nepal today. Also, opposite the main hill, you can see the giant statue of Buddha inside Amideva Park. This Buddha statue is considered to be the biggest Buddha statue in Nepal, with a height of 67 feet high.
Namobuddha is a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site near Panauti in the Kavre district. According to Buddhist legend, a previous Buddha encountered a tigress unable to hunt due to weakness. In a selfless act of compassion, the Buddha offered his flesh to feed the tigress and her cubs. A small stupa stands in honor of this sacrifice. Namobuddha can be reached by a three-hour trek from Dhulikhel or Panauti, which are about an hour’s drive from Kathmandu by regular bus services.
At Namobuddha monastery, visitors can immerse themselves in Nepal’s Buddhist heritage, exploring its history and culture. The tranquil atmosphere, adorned with lush gardens, invites meditation and relaxation. Surrounded by picturesque hills and forests, the site offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas, including Gaurishankar, Langtang, and Manaslu. Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery stands as a key highlight, making Namobuddha a revered pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
The major attractions of the Namobuddha are:
- Thrangu Tashi Monastery
- Shedra, the monastic college
- Thrangu Teng Sheng Tsokpa
- Preliminary Retreat
- Dewachen Temple
Kopan Monastery is a peaceful place located near Boudhanath, just outside Kathmandu, Nepal. Kopan Monastery, named after the hill it stands on, is renowned for teaching Buddhism to Western visitors. Since 1971, it has hosted month-long meditation courses every November–December, blending traditional teachings with guided meditation and vegetarian meals. Recently, it has also become a favorite spot for both Kathmandu locals and tourists seeking recreational activities.
If you are looking for a peaceful getaway in the stunning Kathmandu Valley, Kopan Monastery is the place to be. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, it’s a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a leisurely walk through the beautiful grounds, soak in the serene atmosphere, and explore the teachings of Buddhism. It is the perfect escape for some tranquillity and reflection.
Tengboche Monastery, also known as Thyangboche or Dawa Choling Gompa, is one of the biggest Buddhist Monasteries in the Everest area. It sits high on a hill at 3,867 meters above sea level, offering stunning views of mountains like Everest, Nuptse, Lhoste, Ama Dablam, Tawache, and Thamserku.
The monastery is located in Tengboche and is home to Sherpas.
It was built in 1916 by Lama Gulu. Tengboche Monastery marks the end of the “Sacred Sites Trail Projects” in Sagarmatha National Park, drawing many visitors. It’s surrounded by old mani stones and colorful prayer flags representing elements like earth, wind, fire, water, and consciousness. About 60 monks live here.
Every October, Tengboche Monastery hosts a vibrant festival called “Mani Rimdu.” During this celebration, monks and locals perform reenactments of legendary stories accompanied by delightful music and dances.
Milarepa Cave is a special cave linked with Milarepa, found in Nepal near Manang on the Annapurna Circuit, about 13,450 feet high. People believe that Milarepa, a famous Buddhist figure, lived here during the 11th century. The cave is surrounded by a holy spring and a gompa (a Buddhist monastery). Locals pray from a spot where they can see the cave clearly.
There’s a story about a hunter named Kera Gompa Dorjee who tries to harm Milarepa, but Milarepa teaches him about kindness and understanding instead. People say you can see a bow hanging nearby, which is said to belong to that hunter. This place is famous for this story. The art and buildings in the monasteries and cave, along with the stunning mountains and natural scenery, make this area a fantastic spot for people who love to travel and explore.
The Shey Gompa is a special Buddhist temple high up in the mountains of Dolpa, Nepal. It’s also known as the Crystal Monastery. People believe it’s the most important spiritual spot in Upper Dolpo.
At Shey Gompa, there’s a big prayer hall with beautiful wood carvings and paintings and a statue of Guru Rinpoche. Monks live here and do prayers every day. People come from Nepal and Tibet for the Shey Festival in the summer. It’s a big event with music, dancing, and religious ceremonies, showing off the culture of the area.
Nearby, there’s Shey Phoksundo Lake, which is super pretty and clean. It’s surrounded by tall mountains and is excellent for hiking and trekking. Lots of people love visiting this lake.
Ramagrama stupa is a special place in Nepal, in a town called Ramgram Municipality. Long ago, there was a powerful story about it. It’s said that a wise serpent king guarded the stupa and stopped King Ashoka from digging it up. This made the stupa one of the few untouched ones. It’s believed to hold relics of Buddha, and it’s the only stupa left in its original form. People have respected and visited it for a long time. The stupa, standing 7 meters tall, is now hidden under dirt, waiting for more study. UNESCO noticed its importance and put it on their list of places to consider protecting in 1996.
Pharping is a Buddhist pilgrimage site where Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated in a holy cave. Pharping in Nepal is a short distance from Kathmandu, approximately 25 km from the capital. Holy Pilgrimage Site of Guru Rinpoche, where the Master left imprints in Rocks and Caves for the Benefit of Sentient Beings to Generate Faith and Make a Connection with Him.
You can also visit the magnificent Ancient Temple of Vajrayogini and Temple of Tara, Sacred Dakinis of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche meditated for six years, six months, and six days in Asura Cave. Himalayan Buddhists consider Guru Rinpoche to be the second Buddha. Known as Padmasambhava, the Master was born from a Lotus Flower within Lake Dhanakosha of Oddiyana as a Primordial Buddha already Enlightened at Birth. Guru Padmasambhava introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet and helped build Samye Monastery, the first Buddhist Monastery in Tibet.
Another major highlight is the Vajrayogini Temple in Pharping, which is a Holy Pilgrimage Site for both Hindus and Buddhists, established by the Pamtingpa brothers, who were two important Nepalese disciples of Naropa.
Halesi Maratika Cave
Halesi Maratika Cave is a sacred place of both Buddhist and Hindu sites located in the remote eastern region of Nepal. According to the Buddhists, It was at Maratika Cave that Guru Rinpoche and his wisdom consort, Lhacham Mandarava, achieved immortality through the blessing of Amitayus, the Budhha of long life.
This cave holds many hidden treasures, and more than five hundred practitioners fit in here to practice together. Just inside the entrance to the cave, there is a self-arisen conch shell. This smooth turquoise conch, which has holes at either side, can be blown by pilgrims, which creates a sound that reverberates throughout the cave. This cave is also a source of holy nectar. With the cave, there are many fascinating things to see and a story to unfold.
Eleven Things to Do at Buddhist Pilgrimage
1. Meditate on Buddha and his Dhamma
2. Recite Prayers and Suttas
3. Make Offerings (flowers, Incense, Water, Food, Lighting lamps, Supporting temples)
4. Offer Circumambulation around the Shrines
5. Practise Cankama or Walking Meditation
6. Offer Three Prostrations
7. Study the Scriptures and Suttas
8. Practice Mindfulness
9. Remember and Intensify the presence of the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha)
10. Support / Help other Pilgrims
11. Clean up for the next pilgrim (Once you have finished practicing)
No matter what religion you follow, you’re welcome to visit Nepal’s beautiful pilgrimage sites. Whether you’re Buddhist or not, these places have something unique to offer everyone. So, if you’re looking for a memorable and peaceful experience, Nepal’s pilgrimage sites are worth exploring.
There are lots of unique places like monasteries and caves, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Each spot has its own story and charm, making it perfect for those seeking spiritual enlightenment and cultural experiences. Whether you’re interested in ancient tales or just enjoying the stunning scenery, Nepal’s Buddhist pilgrimage sites offer something special for everyone. If you like to visit such cultural and heritage sites or even trekking/climbing/expedition you can remember or contact us.