Boudhanath is the official name of the Boudha stupa, which is located in the north-east of Kathmandu, north of the airport. Boudhanath has a long history. It supposed to be on a trade route many centuries ago. The Boudha stupa is a Buddhist sort of temple. When you enter the main gate, where you pay an entry ticket for a few hundred rupees (a few $), you see immediately the big tower on top of what looks like a huge bowl upside down.
Boudha stupa is the place of Tibetan Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism. Therefore there are a lot of Tibetan refugees living in this area and in many monasteries around it. The top of the tower with the Buddha eyes is 43 mtr high. The circle, or Kora for Buddhists, is a 315 mtr walk. In the bowl shape there are 108 Buddha statues placed, as you will see. This is the holy number. When you walk around, you will notice the prayer wheels in the walls. Spin the wheels and the Buddhist scriptures on the wheels will fly into the air and cover the world. The same counts for the scriptures on the prayer flags of which the wind carries them to cover the world. The prayer flags have the colors of the elements of which all living things exist.
Walking around the stupa
Buddhists walk around the stupa clockwise and they spin lots of prayer wheels in the wall. On normal days many Buddhists walk a couple of rounds early morning and at the end of the afternoon. On special days like Buddha Jayanthi in May and other full-moon days, they walk the holy number of 108 rounds around the stupa. While walking they hold a malla (neckless with 108 beads) that they circle in their hands bead by bead while chanting Um Mani Padme Hum, a Buddhist prayer.
The stupa got damaged during the earthquake of 2015. The top got removed and rebuild again. It is possible to go inside of the walls, up to level one of the stupa. There you can see that within the wall compound there are a lot of boards for people to do prostrations. Bowing down, a Buddhist practice, good for body and mind. Around the stupa are plenty of nice restaurants with great view on the stupa. Worth to take a break and enjoy the serenity.
There are many monasteries related to one of the four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism in the area and all have a possibility to become a student. To get your own guru teacher, Rnpoche. Around the stupa, at the left side when you enter from the gate, is a monastery. Usually it is closed during daytime, but on special occasions it’s open. Normally it’s open in the morning and again in the afternoon around 5 pm. Take a look inside for the detailed Buddhist paintings, the huge Buddha statue and much more to see. Walk another quarter around the stupa and there is a small way to some other monasteries like Shechen monastery of which more here: http://shechen.org and a few kilometers farther Kopan monastery of which more here: http://kopanmonastery.com/.
For the perople who are interested in studying Buddhism, they can also go to the white monastery of which more here: http://shedrub.org/. Many visitors let themselves guide by someone from an agency who put two or three temple visits in a day. They usually walks a circle in Boudha and takes you to the next place. In this case you won’t have the opportunity to really enjoy the special Buddhist serenity, details and monasteries.
If you are interested in the thanka’s, the hand made paintings, there is a lot of variety in it and prices vary from $10 for a small one to big sizes of $500 and more. A nice one you can have for around $50. Contact the writer of this post in reaction for the best places to buy things in Boudhanath, as he lived there for 6 years and knows all the ins and outs of the area. For examples and more info about thanka paintings, look here: http://www.norbulingka.org/thangka-painting.html
At the main gate there is the ticket counter, as well as in several streets at the other side of Boudhanath. If you really not intend to pay an entry ticket of a few bucks, you can try a few possibilities. There is a street just left of the main gate, but there is a ticket boot. Another small path is left just after the main entrance. Go in there and you come into the Boudha circle.
Every once in a while there are people sitting to charge you a ticket, but not always. If that doesn’t work out, walk back a 150 mtr on the main road till a small junction before the Hyatt wall and turn right. This way passes the side of the Hyatt compound. turn right at the end and follow till the stupa. There is a ticket boot too, but you can easily pass by, as if you stay in one of the hotels around. There is one other road from the backside of the stupa, where you’ll find a ticket boot too. A taxi to Thamel from Boudhanath should not be more than 300 rupees. Be aware, most taxi drivers are unfriendly cheaters.
All in all is Boudhanath about the cleanest place of all tmeples in and around Kathmandu. No beggars bothering you as around Monkey temple. Boudha stupa has the most serene area.
Other famous temples in Kathmandu are Swayambunath (Monkey Temple) and Pashupatinath (Pashupati temple complex)
Have a wonderful time there!