Bodhnath Temple in Kathmandu ©Solange Hando
True, Tibetan refugees came to Kathmandu decades ago but their culture flourishes as strong as ever and there's no better place to feel the vibes than in the district of Bodhnath.
Late afternoon, whenever I'm there, I join the crowds heading for the great white stupa where the eyes of the Buddha look in every direction. They come from all around, shuffling down the alleyways, old folk twirling prayer beads, teenagers with cell phones, mothers with toddlers and babies, monks, novices and nuns, all keen to earn merits as they walk clockwise, seven times, around the stupa.
Late Afternoon Prayers at Bodhnath ©Solange Hando
Everyone can join in and there are benches if you need a rest and wonderful rooftop cafes for a bird's eye view. You can buy grain to feed the pigeons as an act of kindness, place offerings in the alms bowls and watch the true devotees prostrating all around or try it for yourself if you are brave enough. The chanting of monks mingles with the sound of gongs and bells and tinkling prayer wheels.
Buddhist Prayer Wheels, Kathmandu ©Solange Hando
When darkness falls over the city, everyone returns home and all is silent in Bodhnath, except for the flapping of prayer flags and cicadas singing in the nearby hills.