My World Tour:  Boudha Stupa, Nepal


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The Buddhist stupas of he Kathmandu Valley - particularly the stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudha (Bodhnath) -  are the most impressive and most visited monuments in Nepal.  The earliest stupas in India were merely domed burial mounds, but they have evolved over the centuries to become complex structures which represent the Buddha and Buddhist philosophy.  The lowest level of the stupa is the plinth, which may be simply a square platform, but may also be terraced, as at Boudha (shown below).  On the top of the plinth is the hemispherical kumbha (dome; kumbha literally means "pot"), which is usually whitewashed each year.  Atop the dome is a spire, which always consist of a number of elements.  Immediately on top of the dome is a harmika, a square base usually painted on each side with a pair of eyes, which most people believe represents the all-seeing nature of the Buddha.  Toping the harmika is a tapering section of 13 stages, which are said to represent the 13 stages of perfection.  At the very peak is a gilt parasol, which symbolizes royalty.

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Bruce and Julia, World Travelers and Adventure Seekers Extraordinaire.
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Revised: 05 Feb 2007 20:21:27 -0600 .