Hike from Panauti to Namo Buddha
Panauti, the starting point can be reach in about two hour by public bus from Kathmandu. If you want to stay the night there beforehand, you could check out the Community Homestay Programme. From there, hikers start the walk by following the dirt road along the river and passing the town’s Hindu temple. For the next two hours, the way leads more or less evenly through small villages and rice fields. Depending on the season, you can see the locals planting, harvesting rice and other crops and get a great insight into the village life in Nepal. Teashops along the way invite to rest and have a refreshing cup of chia.
On the way you will have breathtaking views of the monastery and the stupa in the distance. And also the hundreds of thousands of prayer flags attached to a pole at the highest point are unmistakable and the golden roofs of the monastery sparkle in the sun.
Unmata Bhairab Temple in Panauti. Photo: Bob Witlox
After two hours of walking you will reach a small village across a river. On the other side, the path starts by climbing up the mountain and the field are replaced by forest. The monastery lies at 1750m above sea level, so you only have to climb around 250 metres. The sounds around change on this part of the trek and the voices of people and sounds of farm animals are replaced by birds and cicadas.
Don’t miss the stairs to the right after a while around 45 minutes, as they lead to the Namo Buddha Stupa. From the stupa you have a beautiful view of the valley you just crossed. Enjoying a snack or a drink in one of the small restaurants there. Although the stupa is much smaller than at Bouddhanath or Swayambunath, it is a very important one for Nepalese Buddhists.
Furthermore, from the stupa a dirt road leads up to the village and to the Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery. The huge building complex with the golden roof is home to over 250 monks, yet most times many more people live there as it has teaching facilities.
In conclusion, there are plenty of lodging options at Namo Buddha and staying at the monastery itself is a very special experience. The monastery has a simple and clean guesthouse available for visitors and it is possible to eat dinner and breakfast with the monks, and even to witness the morning and evening pujas (worship) in the big hall. In the morning and afternoon you can interact with monks of all ages, and if you are lucky you might even get a guide tour of the premises.
Top photo: René C. Nielsen