I spent a month working as Photography volunteer in Nepal. After the first two weeks doing photography in Kathmandu, I wanted to go somewhere outside, far from the pollution and crowd. Namo Buddha should be one of the places to visit in Nepal for travelers. It is said to be one of the holiest Tibetan Buddhist places in South-East-Asia.
The trip from Kathmandu is available by Taxi or bus. The bus costs around 150 Rupees. You will travel through the Araniko Highway and pass Banepa and Dhulikhel, two important towns of the Kavre district. You can take public bus from the Old Bus Park in Kathmandu and reach Banepa. The bus for Namo Buddha leaves from Banepa Bus Park. You have to change the bus at Banepa Bus Park to go to Namo Buddha but unfortunately there are just a few buses. The waiting period can be long and buses are always crowded. If it is impossible to catch a seat or place inside the bus, people also sit on the roof. The way leads from paved roads to unsecured dirt roads. While traveling on these dirt roads the buses will reach a maximum speed of 20 km/h.
I had to wait about one and half hours at Banepa for the bus. But the trip is definitely worth the wait. Approaching near to the destination, you are able to view monastery with golden roof between trees and beautiful landscape. After the long trip you may feel tired but remember you are entering a very peaceful place with lots of energy and power. You are able to take a deep breath without the usual face mask and just relax. Beautiful architecture, wonderful wall paintings, impressive statues and thousands of prayer flags cover this place within a beautiful landscape full of trees and mountains.
According to Buddhist religion, this place has a six thousand years old history. Following the legend, a young prince faced a hungry mother tiger with her five cubs. The tiger and her cubs were about to die so the prince donated his whole body to the hungry tigers. After donation the prince was re-born in Lumbini, Nepal as Gautam Buddha. Even some people believe Gautam Buddha returned back to this place again and named this place Sangke daFyafulsa. Later the place was called Namo Buddha (salvation to Buddha) for all people.
I stayed one night at the guest house of the monastery. Even the small guest house offering a nice room for one night including evening meal and breakfast was lovely. The guests also eat together with the monks and it was a different feeling. In the centre of Namo Buddha there is a huge monastery. The red bricked building with beautiful wall paintings and a golden roof is the main eye-catcher. It is surrounded with lots of prayer wheels, and monks are seen everywhere praying or studying. It was a different atmosphere to hear the Tibetan chants. At 6 a.m. the Morning Prayer takes place. The monks sit cross-legged on small wooden benches reading from their prayer books. The main hall is very luxurious with carpets, gigantic chandeliers and huge Buddha statues. Even the inner walls have very precise and beautiful paintings. It must have taken a very long time to finish all those paintings in the main monastery.
If the weather is not cloudy then you could even see the Himalayas. The whole place is very lovely, divine, peaceful and special. You can also do this as a Hiking trip to Namo Buddha. While returning back to Kathmandu, I couldn’t find place inside the bus, so I decided to travel back sitting on the roof of the bus. It may sound dangerous, yes it can be but the experience was amazing. This was the most interesting place I have found during my Photography volunteer work in Nepal.
(Christian from Germany did photography volunteering in Nepal with Nepali Host Family)
More Info: http://www.nepalihostfamily.org