Whatever your religion or spiritual practice might be, Nepal has the type of vibe that crosses across all denominations. It might be the simplicity in which most of the citizens choose to live, following the belief that material possessions serve as baggage to your journey or the high altitude full of thick fog, cool air, and cliffside treks, that add to its appeal. Whatever the case, many have been known to flock Nepal in search of some clarity. Some believers think, of course, that they’ve commercialized this experience through the years in the same way that the Amazon has become famous, or infamous, for their Ayahuasca tours. However, this doesn’t stop a good number of Westerners, mostly, from staying in Nepal to have that eluded spiritual enlightenment. If you’ve been looking for this type of experience too, here are a couple of places that you might want to start with in your search for nirvana, clarity, whatever you want to call it:
Budhanikantha means “old blue-throat” in Nepalese. It’s a remarkable sight carved in stone. The Budhanilkantha Statue of Vishnu (even if the name is originally attached to Shiva) is found 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) out of Kathmandu, and some attest it to be the most intricate and beautiful stone carving in Nepal. It’s carved from a single chunk of black basalt, with an untraced origin, placed in the center of a tank of water to symbolize the lake of Gosainkund in the northern mountain range of Kathmandu, where the water is supposed to have originated. Vishnu’s statue has a peaceful, sleeping expression, despite the idea that it’s sleeping on the body of a twisting serpent named Shesha, Vishnu’s servant. Shesha has 11 heads found near the head of Vishnu as well. Followers of Shiva believe that the underside or the reflection is actually that of Shiva, who saved mankind by drinking poison, quenching his thirst with the waters of Gosainkund, which he made by striking his trident to the mountainside of northern Kathmandu. When he drank the water, it created a blue patch on his throat, which is why Budhanilkantha is so symbolic because it symbolizes his mercy and sacrifice.
Visit Budhanilkantha Temple - The House of the Sleeping Lord Vishnu
Duration: 3 hours
Pilgrims from all over Nepal flock to Dakshinkali, especially during September and October when it celebrates the Dashain Festival. If you happen to be traveling during other months throughout the year, you can still see a busy hive of activity and offerings, particularly on Tuesdays and Saturdays of the week, the preferred days that many pilgrims choose to flock to the site. Dakshinkali is found near the village of Pharping, where all types of animal sacrifices are made, especially domesticated animals like chickens and goats (male animals in particular) as offerings to the goddess, Kali. Kali is said to be the destroyer of evil and the bringer of liberation. In Dakshinkali, her image is carved in black stone. The statue focuses on the six-arm form of the goddess standing on Shiva’s own figure.
Address: Pharping-Kulekhani Road, Dakshinkali 44600, Nepal
Contact: +977 9810087073
Book a Tour:
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
Pokhara is famous for two reasons. It is the center of adventure sports, famous for its bungee jumping and water touch bungee jumping sites. But to spiritual seekers, it also happens to be the site of the Peace Pagoda and the Barahi Durga Temple in Lake Fewa. Westerners flock to this temple as a symbolic gesture in their search for world peace. Pokhara doesn’t have exclusive hold of the Peace Pagoda though. The pagoda is actually a series of stupas, or holy shrines, built by Japanese buddhist monk, Nichidatsu Fujii, to promote non-violence as inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. As an architectural wonder though, it’s a site to behold, perched on a ridge above Fewa Lake. There are many ways to reach it, you can use the different paths from the city or take a boat across the lake. For those who have problems with trekking such a long way though, the shortcut is to use the cable car service.
The World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara
Duration: 3 hours
So many places in Janakpur aren’t only sacred, but romantic. For people who have read extensively, the world literary classic, Ramayana, Janakpur is the birthplace of the protagonist and Hindu goddess, Sita also called Janak. When she was sixteen, the King of Janakpur issued a challenge that whoever would be able to string the divine bow of Shiva would marry his daughter, Sita. While many suitors have tried to do just that, only Lord Rama succeeded. So Janakpur also happens to be where she was married to Lord Rama. According to the same source, the Ramayan, Janakpur was originally part, and controlled the larger northern India in the olden days. In honor of Sita, the Janaki Mandir, or her temple, was built on the exact spot where she was said to be born. A flock of women usually visit this spot in their best clothes, and in the early evenings as well when the lanterns are lit up. Big celebrations such as the Festival of Color, Holi and the Festival of Lights, Diwali also happen in Janakpur.
Janaki Mandir in Janakpur
Address: Janakpur 45600, Nepal
Website: Janaki Mandir in Janakpur
Lumbini may be the holiest of places in Nepal because it just so happens to be the birthplace of Buddha and Buddhism. He was said to be born in the forests of Lumbini, on the border of India and Nepal in the Northeast. Because he was born from royalty, the King wanted him to follow in his footsteps. He even forbade his son to attend to any religious and philosophical concerns. However, as many know, Buddha went the other route by becoming a solitary wanderer and meditating beneath a tree, resolving to never leave until he reached enlightenment. To those who want to follow in Buddha’s footsteps, they usually retrace his steps and arrive at four places. One of which is Lumbini, where he was born; Bodh Gata, where he meditated and finally reached enlightened; Saranath, where he first taught; and Kushinager, where his physical life ended. Lumbini is indeed fortunate to have been part of these four aspects of his life.
Address: Rupandehi District of Nepal
Book a Tour:
Find your own zen here in Nepal
Many will attest to the inexplicable, ambiguous magic in Nepal. The rich culture and ethnic and religious diversity may have contributed to this feel. While Nepal is economically poor, especially because of the recent earthquake in 2015, it nonetheless has a blessed past and bright future ahead of it. For those who are in search of something, unsure of exactly what, but feel the need to find it nonetheless, perhaps you’ll find that existential enlightenment in Nepal.
Get Trip101 in your inbox