Such a Beauty: Monasteries of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

The Buddhas, at the top of the entrance gate of the White Monastery facing the rest of the Kathmandu Valley.

**After running through my post yesterday (Shivapuri Hill: Himalayas in My Line of Sight), I’ve decided to split that and re-post the monasteries that we’ve visited on a separate one.**

There’s so much to know and to learn about Nepal. I didn’t have any expectations when I went there last year. I remember once having a conversation with an Indian seatmate en route to Dubai from Delhi about my desire to visit Nepal one day, and I was surprised of her discouragement, telling me that India has so much more to offer.

I went to Nepal with no prejudice. I went there to wander and experience and see for myself what it has to offer.

On our 2nd day in Kathmandu, we were brought to two different monasteries prior to our half day trek at the Shivapuri Hill.

We arrived at the first monastery which was very new and almost empty. I’ve been trying to research on its name, but to no avail.

As we climbed the stairway of the entrance gate which was 3 floors high, I heard a few complaints about not starting the trek yet. “I thought we’re going on a trek?” and “When are we going to start the trek?”.

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It was a bit funny for me, because with my strength and lack of stamina, I just realized: “The trek would be hard. These stairs are high and I can’t imagine how hard the trek could be.”

The monastery was beautiful, but then I thought that without people in it, it isn’t as stunning.

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The designs are very colorful and detailed and have different writings in it.

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The walls are painted with different images and interpretations of Buddhist teachings.

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I wasn’t able to get much about the elephants nor the monkeys. From what I know, they are considered lucky and sacred.

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What I get in some of the paintings though could be interpreted as having heaven and hell and those in between. Different Buddhas/Gods could be also seen in some of it.

0908s(group photo courtesy of Korinna)

After taking a quick stroll inside, we drove away expecting to be brought to the starting point of our trek. To our surprise, we were dropped off to what seemed to be “just another” monastery. I was wrong.

Here is the beauty of the second monastery, Seto Gumba, also known as the White Monastery or Druk Amitabh Mountain.

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It was a lot bigger, going a bit higher for each of Buddha’s statue.

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The architecture of the whole monastery is very modern while the design and the paintings still exhibits Buddhism and its teachings.

It is colorful everywhere, and as the time went by, more locals have started to come in.

0911s0912s0913sThe Buddha at the uppermost part of the monastery

I actually didn’t know at first that this was a monastery, but after seeing a monk, I figured out there must be more of them. I took the liberty to roam around but I’ve only came across a few who were… “hanging out.”

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It is a well maintained and very spacious monastery with very beautiful scenery. There’s also a park at the highest part of the monastery where different quotes in relation to the teachings of Buddhism could be found.

0915s0916sWords have no arrows nor swords, yet they tear men’s mind to pieces.

0917sA long queue of Buddhist quotes in the fence of the park.

0918sYou are purified if your thoughts have become positive. – Jetsun Milarepa

As we roamed, we eventually found where the monks were, praying altogether. They hum simultaneously and it isn’t impossible for anyone to hum and pray along. It wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside the prayer room. Out of respect, we didn’t.

We then realized that these monks were all female and concluded that this must be a women’s/nuns’ monastery. There were nuns of different ages, from very young to older ones.

0919s0920s0921sThe view of the Kathmandu Valley

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I wished though to see them all walking together as they leave the prayer room. But after the wait, I decided to go back down to the rest of our group. Some of my new friends followed minutes later, and one of them told me that what I had hoped to see happened just minutes after I left.

I mentally hit myself for not waiting longer. They were praying, how could I have known?

This photo was taken by my friend Allison, who happened to see them leave the prayer room by 11am.

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Once everyone from our group have assembled at the entrance of the monastery, we then went off to start the trek to Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park (Shivapuri Hill).

It is a pretty intense and very interesting trek (atleast for me) and seeing the Himalayas from afar, at the top of the hill from where we were was the most rewarding of it all. Plus the fact that it was my first time to do such an intense activity.

You may want to check it out in this post and feel every bit of it with me! 🙂

Until then! x

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Quick Tips:

1. Visiting these monasteries is recommended for a half day tour in Kathmandu. It is roughly an hour drive away from Thamel and really worth the trip.

2. We went there on a Saturday morning, and based on my research, Seto Gumba is open only on Saturdays.

3. If you want to see the nuns/female monks praying altogether, climb the stairs upto the 2nd Buddha, turn right, and explore the area until you reach a big open space (like an open hall) infront of a 3-level temple/building/prayer room. You would recognize it in the picture above (beside the red flower). Based on our visit, the prayer ends by 11 am.

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One thought on “Such a Beauty: Monasteries of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

  1. […] decided to make a separate post on the monasteries we’ve visited prior to the trek (here). I’d like for this post to focus on the trek with the rest of the day’s activities […]

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