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Boudha Stupa

Boudha Stupa

In my first visit to Nepal in 1991 I was taken to Boudha Stupa by my Sherpa friend and colleague Pasang.

  Photos, taken by Denis, of Boudha before the Earthquake of 25 April 2015:
The following are a selection of photographs of Boudha Stupa as I have known it since 1991. The prayer flags are from Sherpa families and individuals, and organisations who give them after some Puja ceremony or from Monasteries on some special occasion in the Buddhist calendar. They are changed and replaced as required. At certain times it is also possible for people to walk on the main Stupa and to offer prayers and gifts.
 

Over the next few years, as I was accepted into the Sherpa community, I began to see how Boudha, not only the Stupa but also the many Monasteries in the locality, played an important part in the daily lives of the Sherpa people.

Not only do the Sherpa people, together with local Tibetans, visit and walk round Boudha Stupa (Kora - Circumambulation) early mornings and in the evenings, but all the many local Monasteries conduct Puja's (ceremonies) for all aspects of Sherpa Buddhist life for the local, and visiting, Sherpa communities.

Together with my Sherpa family, and others, I have also attended many Puja's over the years at various Monasteries after the death of relatives or friends and others from the Sherpa community. Also marriage and birth Puja's as well as social gatherings.

Since those early days Boudha Stupa has become a special place for me also, I do try to make an early morning visit at least once a week when I am in Kathmandu and join with the other Sherpa and Tibetan people walking round the Stupa.

Boudha Stupa is also one of the main attractions for tourists and during the daytime groups, together with a City Guide, can be seen being given a conducted tour of the site and learning something about it.


 

close up of Buddha Eyes

 

 

 

After the earthquake


 

On Saturday 25 April 2015 when the devastating earthquake hit Nepal at around 11.45 Hrs I was back home at the family house in Kapan after my early morning visit to Boudha.

This was the last time I saw Boudha Stupa as I had known it for 24 years. - The events of that day are noted elsewhere in the news section of the website.

  Photos, taken by Denis, of Boudha a few days after the Earthquake of 25 April 2015:
In the days following the earthquake we all remained close to home at Kapan, because of the many aftershocks occurring each day. It was almost a week before I went again to Boudha. These photographs are showing damage to the Spire Section. - Very fortunately Boudha Stupa had not been damaged as badly as other heritage sites in Kathmandu, some were almost completely demolished. - In the following weeks a survey determined that the main damage was limited to the spire and some of the smaller Stupas and other monuments, within the main area, the Dome was structurally sound.

All show the initial damage caused by the earthquake. Subsequent surveys showed further extensive damage on the inside of the Spire and it needed to be dismantled

 
  Because of the continuing aftershocks we spent almost the next two weeks in our tents outside. I never left Kapan for six days when I again made a visit to Boudha. Damage to the top of the Stupa could be seen and also some small structures within the main area inside the Mani Wall were also damaged. The main dome appeared to be OK; some of this initial damage is shown in the photos. This remained the situation when I left Nepal two weeks later on my scheduled flight date of 08 May. - Although extensive rebuilding and renovation is necessary Boudha Stupa, fortunately, has minimum damage compared too many of the other World Heritage Sites, in and around Kathmandu and the valley area, some were completely demolished and others very extensively damaged. - The day after I arrived back in UK, 12 May, the second earthquake struck causing further destruction across the country. The damage to Boudha Stupa, again very fortunately, was not further affected with the second earthquake.

 

Renovation


 

During the next few months, in UK, I followed the situation in Nepal on a daily basis. Reports emerged in local Nepali news papers and websites for Boudha, and after a major survey it was decided that the main dome of the Stupa was not structurally affected but that the top section would have to be dismantled and rebuilt. The same applied to some of the smaller structures. During this period local newspapers carried pictures of scaffolding around the upper structure and the dismantling of the brick built structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in UK between May and October I monitored the situation in Nepal on a daily basis and some newspaper reports about Boudha Stupa did show how work was progressing to begin to erect scaffolding round the Spire which would have to be dismantled.

Newspaper photos showing the erection of scaffolding round the Spire of the Stupa taken between June and October 2015, from online versions of The Kathmandu Post: (www.ekantipur.com) and Republica: (www.myrepublica.com) Newspapers

 

 

 

Video of Stupa renovation work in progress courtesy of the Boudhanath Area Development Committee

 

I returned to Nepal on 11 October and the next day made my first visit to Boudha, the top section and all the scaffolding and the Spire had been removed and the Buddhist Flags were flying from the top of the Dome. All the many thousands of bricks were stacked around the dome. Workers were removing the remains of the base of the top section and generally cleaning the site. This work continued for the next few weeks with the thousands of bricks and all the earth etc being checked and sorted.

The reconstruction began on 3 November 2015 with the ritual placement of a new central pole or 'life tree' for the Stupa at the top of the dome. The 'life tree' was erected with assistance by Lama's from local Monasteries and the workers were continuing to sort out all the usable bricks to use in the reconstruction. The 'life tree' will remain inside the reconstructed Spire together with all the other ancient artefacts previously there and retrieved during the dismantling process. The selection of photos show some of this and as far as I can find out it may take a further year to complete everything and bring Boudha Stupa back to it's former self.

Just a few days before my departure on 05 December the family members visited a monastery close to Boudha Stupa and together with many other Sherpa's they were given several small samples of the soil from within the top of the Dome. I was given one of these samples so it will take a special place together with other sacred Buddhist items I have.

Updates will follow.

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
December 2015

 

 

Photos taken by Denis between October and December 2015:
On my return to Nepal in October I was able to see the progress of the renovation of Boudha Stupa. The Spire had been removed and the Buddhist Flags were flying from the top of the Dome. The workers were sorting out all the bricks for use in rebuilding. Plastic pipes were used as a means of moving all the loose soil and small pieces of broken bricks and plaster down to the bottom of the Stupa. All the gold plated copper covering on the Spire together with all the ancient artefacts that were concealed inside were recovered and placed in safe keeping for replacement in the new Spire. On 03 November 2015 with the ritual placement of a new central pole or 'life tree' for the Stupa at the top of the dome, the rebuilding work was begun. Inside the top of the Dome a special structure is available to accept the 'life tree' and to enable further construction.

The following selection of photographs shows how the work was progressing over the two months before I returned to UK in early December. During all of this time people were able to continue their visits for Kora - Circumambulation as usual.

 

 

 

Video of Stupa Puja ceremony 3rd Nov 2015 courtesy of the Boudhanath Area Development Committee

 

Update Mar 2016


 

I arrived back in Nepal on 14 March and during the following days and weeks made several visits to Boudha Stupa. The base of the spire was under construction and other work was going on clearing the old bricks and repairing some of the smaller structures that had been damaged. The photos show some of the progress and give an indication of the huge amount of work to be done.

A scaffolding structure had been constructed to transport the bricks to the top of the Dome by a container on rails winched up the structure. Another smaller scaffolding structure has also been made to allow the workers to walk up over the Dome to the top. Groups of volunteers, mostly from the Sherpa community, are being used to collect all the old bricks in bags for disposal and a number of corrugated iron sheet workshops have been constructed around the Dome for the workers. Renovation work is also being done on some of the smaller structures that were damaged by the earthquakes. The outer Mani Walls were also having broken plaster replaced ready to be repainted.

Towards the end of March as the base of the Spire progressed it could be seen that the 'Life Tree' was being made taller upwards inside as the new spire is reconstructed. This will be continued to the top of the completed Spire

 

 

 

 

Photos taken by Denis, of Boudha renovation during March 2016. No. 1/2 show the progress on the base of Spire, also the outer Mani Wall together with the scaffold structures to assist the workers. No. 3/4/5 are showing the clearance of the area, the workshops and progress on one of the small structures. No. 6 shows the work ongoing on the main base of the Spire.

 

 

 

 

Update Apr/May 2016


 

On 10 April I left Kathmandu to travel to Khumbu the Everest region and to visit Tengboche Monastery - meeting up with all my Sherpa friends and colleagues along the way. I had not been able to visit Khumbu at all during 2015, for various reasons, and it was good to meet up with everyone.

Later in April on my return to Kathmandu and my first visit to Boudha Stupa (23 Apr.) the main base was almost complete and I could see that the workers were now filling the inside of the base with bricks also. The work continued and a week later the top tapered section of the Spire was beginning. Renewing and painting of the outer Mani Wall had started and other walls on the Stupa were being made ready for new plaster and paint.

My last visit to Boudha was on the day before my departure on 06 May. The Spire was now just beginning to taper with 2/3 sections completed. More of the outer Mani wall had been plastered and painted. The other walls on the main Stupa are being prepared as other work allows. Some of the smaller structures have been renewed and work is ongoing with others. Many Sherpa volunteers continue to collect all the old bricks into bags for disposal and they are also generally cleaning all the area and also cleaning the old plaster off the walls and preparing for new plaster and paint. The photos show the progress up to the date of my last visit on 05 May.

Back in UK I continue to monitor the situation in Nepal and later on 25/26 May a photograph appeared in one of the newspapers showing how the work was progressing on the Spire. All looking good, so I now look forward to my next scheduled visit later in October.

 

Further updates will follow

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
May 2016


 

 

 

 

 

Photos 1-8 taken by Denis, of Boudha renovation during April/May 2016: (after my return from Khumbu)

No. 1/2 shows some of the outer Mani Wall repainted and the progress on the main part of the Spire.
No. 3 shows the structure used to move all the bricks and other building material to the top of the Dome.
No. 4 shows the newly plastered walls on the Stupa.
No. 5 shows one of the smaller structures completed and ready for final painting.
No. 6 shows the bags of old bricks gradually being removed and disposed of.
No. 7/8 shows the progress with the Spire to date on 05 May 2016
Photos 9/10 are taken from online Nepali newpaper websites www.ekantipur.com any myrepublica.com

 

 

 

photo : www.ekantipur.com

photo : myrepublica.com

 

Update Nov/Dec 2016


My return to Nepal for the autumn season was not until 31 Oct. which was a month later than usual, and on my first visit to Boudha on 02 Nov. it was good to see the progress since my last visit in May.

The spire had now been finished with all the gold plated covering back in place. The old original gold base was not removed and during the reconstruction new gold was coated on top of it, 30 kg of gold was required to cover the whole of the steeple. All of the small stupas etc. were completed and work was continuing to clean and clear the whole area within the mani wall. Many Sherpa volunteers are doing the cleaning work. On my first visit all the walls had now been repainted and they were just starting to repaint the main stupa dome. In sixteen days there would be 3 days of Pujas (Sherpa ceremonies) on 18/19/20 November. These Pujas would be a purification ceremony, on 18/19 November, to purify the Buddhist Stupa, and the consecration ceremony on 20 November, in line with Buddhist culture, with the 'official' reopening ceremony on 22 November.

During the days leading up to the first Puja I made several more visits and the photos show some of the ongoing work and changes made in preparation for the reopening. The dome was repainted and the covered areas for the Lamas to conduct the main Pujas were being prepared and the workshops being dismantled. On 14 November the spire had the original sacred covers replaced and the prayer flags were replaced on the next day. Buddhist flags were hung all round the area and a scaffold barrier was being placed all round the mani wall walking path, this had only a few entry points and would be used for the various processions on the main Puja days. Many stewards from various Sherpa and other organisations were being deployed around the whole area and they would be used to look after things for the following days of Pujas. Covered areas were also erected outside the barrier and used for Lamas not involved in the Pujas as well as other people to see the processions, bands, and dancers of Sherpa and other Buddhist communities that would be present at various times on the days of the Pujas.

On 18 November the first day of the three days of Pujas many thousands of people assembled and there was some difficulties at times moving round the Stupa, with the stewards restricting people to the outside of the barriers some difficulties with the crowds and some crushing but no major problems. After some time I moved up to the restaurant I have used for many years where the rooftop balcony offered good views etc. - I used this as a vantage point on the next few days also. In the covered areas on the Stupa Lamas were assembled and conducting various prayer ceremonies to mark the purification of the rebuilt Stupa. On the Stupa spire the eyes had now been covered, these would be uncovered on the last Puja day, although at times before then the wind disturbed the cover and on the third day even caused it to fall down for some time before it was replaced. The following two days continued in a similar way

On 19 November the Lamas from Monasteries around Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal, also other countries, continued with their ceremonies and also received invited guests who presented Kattas (sacred scarves) and other gifts in each of the four areas on the Stupa.

On 20 November, the last day, there were even more people than the previous days with many more of the Sherpa community attending. This day was the blessing and the consecration day for Boudha Stupa and the Lamas as well as continuing their puja also moved up to the next level on the stupa walking round with special ceremony facing the dome. One of the head lamas made a special puja with a fire to prepare for the final purification and the consecration. On this last day a helicopter flew over the Stupa and dropped flower petals over the whole area. After the various processions of the Lamas, from each of the four areas on the Stupa, and further ceremonies around the dome the cover was removed from the eyes with the Lamas blessings, marking the consecration and the reopening of Boudha Stupa. The photos cover these three days showing some of the various ceremonies and proceedings.

On 22 November, the day of the 'official' reopening there were representatives from the Buddhist communities around the world and also some ambassadors to Nepal from other countries. Together with locals and other invited guests they were gathered in a covered area outside of the barrier round the mani wall, not on the Stupa. The numbers of local people were noticeably down on the previous days. The proceedings were relayed on loudspeakers and various Buddhist leaders, and others made speeches. The lighting of a ceremonial butter lamp by the Nepal Prime Minister marked this 'official' reopening and shortly after this all the various VIPs were taken to a Hotel outside of Boudha for lunch and this brought the proceedings to a close.

On my next visit four days later all the covered areas on the Stupa had been dismantled and we could once again walk on the main Stupa. This was the first time in 19 months since the earthquake of 25 April 2015 we could walk on the Stupa and a very special time for all the Sherpa people. All the scaffold poles were being collected in trucks and groups of Lamas were moving all the various items of tables, benches etc. that had been used in the four areas for the Pujas. Other volunteers, many from the Sherpa community, were dismantling and moving the barrier and other items, the covered areas had been removed to once again leave the mani walk way clear.

During the following days after the Stupa was cleared the prayer flags were changed several times and the sacred covers on the spire were covered over with the covers that are also changed at intervals with the prayer flags, the sacred covers remaining under these.

The rebuilding of Boudha Stupa was funded by Sherpa and other Buddhist communities from around Nepal and in other countries. 30 kg of gold was also donated; the majority of this was from one of the Buddhist Rinpoches (reincarnate high Lama) and his section of the Buddhist community. Generous donations were also received from many organisations and individuals, Nepali and foreigners, all of this making the rebuilding of Boudha Stupa possible. There was no assistance or finance from the Nepal Government.

On 08 December I made my last visit before my departure on 09 December. It was a very special moment to see Boudha Stupa open again and to join with many Sherpa and Tibetan people, early in the morning, walking on the main Stupa again with everything almost back to normal.

The restoration of Boudha Stupa is now complete. With my long association I look forward to being able to continue to join with the Sherpa people at this special place, Boudha Stupa.

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
Dec 2016

 

Photos, taken by Denis, showing the progress of Boudha renovation on my first visit during November 2016:

No. 1 shows the finished spire and the new gold plated panels glowing in the sun, workers preparing to repaint the main dome and scaffolding for the covered areas.
No. 2 shows the detail of the top of the spire.
No. 3 shows the reconstructed small structures and preparations to remove the workshops.
No. 4 shows the detail above the eyes that is usually covered.
No. 5 shows workers painting the lower part of the dome.

 

 

 

Photos, taken by Denis, showing the ongoing work in preparation for the reopening November 2016:

No. 1/2/3 show people still being able to make the walk round the outer mani wall and the preparation of the covered areas for the lamas during the pujas.
No. 4 shows the repainted dome.
No. 5/6/7 show the sacred covers and prayer flags replaced for the first time after the restoration.
No. 8 shows the area with the workshops now removed.
No. 9/10 Show the construction of the barrier and one of the boards displayed round the outer mani wall

 

 

Photos, taken by Denis, on the first of the puja days on 18 November 2016

No. 1 shows the lamas assembling for the puja in the covered areas on the stupa.
No. 2 shows the stupa with the eyes now covered.
No. 3 shows one of the many processions round the stupa on the puja days.
No. 4 shows a wider view of the pujas.
No. 5 shows the barrier with one of the covered areas and the people restricted outside.

 

 


Photos, taken by Denis, on the second of the puja days on 19 November 2016

No. 1 shows the lamas receiving Kattas and gifts from guests.
No. 2/3 show the cover on the spire disturbed by the wind in a rather intriguing way.
No. 4/5 show the continuing pujas and lamas walking round the mani wall now with many katas hung over the mani wheels.


Photos, taken by Denis, on the third of the puja days on 20 November 2016. This day was the blessing and the consecration day for Boudha Stupa after further ceremonies around the dome the cover was removed from the eyes with the Lamas blessings, marking the consecration and the reopening of Boudha Stupa on 20 November 2016

No. 1 shows stupa eyes covered and ready for the reopening.
No. 2 shows again the wind causing the cover to slide down.
No. 3 shows the first procession by lama, the cover is still down.
No. 4/5 show one of the Rinpoche (high lama) conducting a special puja.
No. 6 shows the cover replaced on the stupa.
No. 7/8 show a helicopter dropping flower petals over the stupa area.
No.9 shows the lama procession for the reopening.
No. 10/11 show the covered eyes open again marking the consecration and reopening of Boudha stupa, and also the cover now being removed.
No.12 Boudha stupa now complete and open once more.



Photos, taken by Denis, on the day of the 'official' reopening on 22 November 2016

No. 1/2/3 show the covered area outside of the mani wall with some local people to the rear and the VIPs and stage area up at the front. There was no activity on the stupa on this day.



Photos, taken by Denis, all covered areas being removed and once again 19 months after the earthquake of 25 April 2015 we could walk on the Stupa again, a special time for the Sherpa people. 26 November 2016

No. 1/2/3 Show the removal of scaffolding from the covered areas on the stupa, also the barrier round the mani wall and all the various equipment used by the lamas.
No. 4/5/6/7 show people walking on the stupa once again 19 months after the earthquake of 25 April 2015



Photos, taken by Denis, during the following days, after the Stupa was cleared, the prayer flags were changed several times and the sacred covers on the spire were covered over with the covers that are also changed at intervals with the prayer flags, the sacred covers remaining under these. 08 December 2016

No. 1/2/3/4 show some of the changes to covers and prayer flags.
No. 5/6 show the last change on the day of my last visit to Boudha before my departure