We have recently visited a little piece of paradise on Earth: a Tibetan Buddhist sacred place in Nepal called Namo Buddha. The peaceful aura of the place is as beautiful and soothing as the prayer flags hanging from every tree on the hikes through the pinewoods.
Getting there from Kathmandu was quite an experience. We called a taxi driver who Michele had already met before, and for 4.000 Nepalese Rupees (almost US$40! – drives have been expensive in Nepal since the closing of the Indian border during the fuel blockade), he drove us safely to Namo Buddha, although with a very questionable taste for music which seemed almost comically detached from our surroundings (hard rock and American disco/techno, which he enjoyed at a very high volume). Leaving the city’s hectic traffic and intensely polluted air, we passed through countryside cities, many polluting brick-factories, went up and down mountains and observed the change in vegetation (or rather, observed the contrast between the lack of vegetation of the cities to the greener mountains). We got to see the world’s tallest Shiva statue in Sanga, and finally made it to the dangerous, tight, non asphalted road squished between a giant steep cliff and walls of rocks and little houses (intense). This little and rather dangerous road finally led us to our final destination: The Namo Buddha Resort. Where we had the pleasure of sleeping in a cozy little cabana and eating divine organic vegetarian food made and planted right there (so. good.).
Here is a photographic account of our daily discoveries in Namo Buddha.
we were welcomed to the resort with this delicious cup of coffee, fresh milk, and freshly baked biscuit
the resort was like one big food garden
After chilling for a while and recovering from the long and intense drive while admiring the view of the Himalayas, we decided to stay for lunch.
the imposing view of the Himalayas cutting across the sky
super fresh and colourful salad as first course for lunch
first time eating an edible flower (its good, perfumed and slightly spicy!)
main dish was veggies, paneer (a type of cheese) curry, and freshly made chapati (break with a potato base and spices)
last but not least, apple pie and homemade ice cream for dessert while going through our Lonely Planet guide and planning the hike of the afternoon
time to get lost on the woods and look for the Tibetan Buddhist monastery
right out of the hotel, this beautiful scenery. On the left, a big fall to the valley, and lots of prayer flags showing us the way to the monastery
we met some adorable girls on the way, who were taking their goats for a walk and having fun posing for pictures
at some points of the hike, the woods and prayer flags were more abundant and created this beautiful mystical atmosphere
a beautiful temple of Shiva on the way to the tibetan Buddhist monastery. A classic signal of Nepal’s religious syncretism.
as we got closer, we spotted some Buddhist monks taking a walk. Michele teased me the whole day as the ‘monk stalker’ because I couldn’t get over how beautiful their red tunics stoop out in the green and brown paths…
and the hike led us to the imposing Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Thrangu Tashi Yangtse
every wall is colourful and detailed, and prayer wheels surround the entire building!
spinning them clockwise to send the mantras out to the universe!
inside, colourful walls enhanced by natural light
the top of the door to the main meditation room where a giant Buddha statue sits (prohibited to take pictures inside)
one of the gardens of the monastery depicting the Buddha and his devotees
children monks playing on the stairs of the monastery as we were heading out of this beautiful place
back at the resort in time for a beautiful sunset and a great dinner
cozy lights at night
the outside of a bedroom/cabana
fairy lights showing the way to our bungalow
next day was valentine’s day, and we treated ourselves by indulging in the resort’s super breakfast before the morning hike. Next stop: Namo Buddha’s oldest Stupa
all kinds of encounters on our way to the old Stupa of Namo Buddha
arriving at the old Stupa, we were in awe at the light, the colours, the people and their offerings and rituals. It is a small place compared to the Monastery, but nevertheless really full of interesting things to see, an important and old peregrination site for tibetan Buddhists.
offerings being organized on the floor early in the morning
offerings being made by beautifully adorned Buddhist women in front of the Stupa
fire and buddhism have a special relationship. We often saw fire pits in front of Stupas, and devotees walking by always stopping to blow some of the smoke towards their hands and bodies. Fire, it is said, is the materialization of the universe’s force, and it runs through our bodies giving us heat, life and the capacity to digest.
people of all ages were spinning the prayer wheels in the old Stupa
only Buddhists were allowed in the internal part of the Stupa, where they carefully placed their offerings
while visiting the old Stupa, we met a Buddhist man that had come to this pilgrimage site from another part of Nepal. He led us to the other part of the Stupa, one extremely full of prayer flags and with an interesting story about the Buddha…
It is told that this is the place where the Buddha, as the Bodhisatva of compassion, lived incarnated as a young prince. One day, touched by the sight of a family of tigers who were starving to death, he voluntarily gave his own flesh as food to them without a moment’s hesitation. He died, devoured by the tigers, and went to his next enlightened state.
graphic depictions of the Bodhisatva offering himself to the tigers decorated the Stupa’s entrance
at the top of the Stupa, monks were praying, talking, and photographing their homes: the monastery we visited on the previous day, right across to the Stupa’s highest point
In between monks and prayer flags, women were working on separating these little seeds of spices and washing dishes. While the Stupa was a unique ‘touristic’ site to us, to them it is a sacred but common place, a daily place of chores and socialization
Back at the resort for the sunset, tea and reading/relaxing. Taking our time to let the information of the day sink in. There are so many beautiful sights and interesting stories to make sense of and learn from…
Next day we headed from the tranquility of Namo Buddha to the agitation of Bhaktapur. The road on the way back made us feel like we were travelling in time, rather than in space. As if Namo Buddha has been a dream, where time made little sense and we lived by the sun light’s schedule. The noise, rush, pollution and agitation of traffic felt so incredibly foreign, although we were only gone for 2 days and 2 nights. It was easy to get accustomed to wonderful things, fresh air, tranquility and delicious food. But diving back into city life also made us realize a classic Buddhist teaching: everything is transitory. Therefore, seize the moment.