Namo Buddha is a place where not many tourists visit, although it’s located at only 43 km east of Kathmandu. People travelling on a package deal to Nepal won’t visit Namo Buddha. Neither will people travelling on their own because it’s not on the way to Pokhara or Chitwan. Namo Buddha lies around 10 km from the Hindu temples of Panauti and from Dhulikhel, the town along the highway to the border with Tibet at an altitude of 2000 mtr.
How to get there
Local buses aren’t a recommendation in Nepal, but certainly an option if you decide to keep it cheap. Take a bus from the buspark or at Koteshwor junction, where the bus will stop too. Take the bus to either Namo Buddha or Panauti, where you can catch the next bus for the last piece of the journey. Other options to visit Namo Buddha are by taxi from Kathmandu, rent a private car with driver, or rent a motorbike and drive yourself. The taxi will cost you easily $40. A motorbike you can rent for $10 a day.
When you arrive on the parking you walk to the small village. Small means nothing more than a couple of houses, shops, local restaurants and guesthouses for overnights. At the small white stupa you walk the path left upwards through forest like nature. You can’t miss it as long as you follow the prayer flags hanging between trees with the colors of the elements and Buddhist scriptures on it. At the end of the steep path you walk straight through a small gate to the top of the hill, where the tigers are located. Don’t be surprised to see Tibetans or Nepalese having a picnic there. Walk back down to the small gate which you came through. There you have a few options to get to the monastery. Turn right and take a small path along rice paddies is the quickest one.
Namo Buddha is one of very few places where you still don’t have to pay entry fee in Nepal. It’s quite in the middle of nowhere in forest and rice paddies. For Buddhists this place has some significance because of the history. It is here that the prince Siddharta gave his body to the hungry tigers while he was out of his palace to see the real suffering outside the palace walls. By offering his body, which can be seen as the ultimate offer, he reincarnated and got born in Lumbini as Gautam Buddha. For info about Lumbini, see associated post on this blog. An impression of Namo Buddha can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_7_aL0PJdE&feature=youtu.be
With this history it isn’t a surprise that a monastery is located on top of this hill. It belongs to the Kagyupa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, or Mahayana Buddhism. You can visit the monastery after lunch time or in the morning. After lunch you are allowed to sit in the main hall while the monks are doing their prayers and chants, using the horns, shells and other unusual instruments. The vibes can really give you a nice feeling.
In the main hall there is, as in all monasteries in Nepal, a huge Buddha statue. It’s full with Thanka paintings too. These are hand made paintings of Tara’s and Buddha’s, on different materials painted. Taking pictures isn’t allowed in the main hall, but outside you can take pictures as much as you like. Of course you have to let your shoes downstairs when going up to enter the main hall.
There is a possibility to take a room at the monastery for retreat and other Buddhist practices. It won’t be for free though. You can lit candles and hang prayer flags at the tiger spot.
Because of the distance it easily can take you a day to visit Namo Buddha. It’s recommended to combine it in one day with a visit to Dulikhel and/or Panauti Hindu temples. It’s definitely worth a visit, in particular because of its history. It was one of my favorite spots to visit, partly because it’s not too touristic. If you think it’s too much for one day, or you like the serenity, you can always decide to take one of the guesthouses there for around $5 a night. More information about Namo Buddha can be found here: http://namobuddha.org/namobuddha.html
Enjoy the visit!