Dashain mini-trek – 4: Dhulikhel to Panauti via Namo Buddha

The fifth and final day of our mini-trek saw us set off from Dhulikhel (gratefully leaving our heavy packs at the guesthouse for a change) heading up another steep flight of steps at the beginning of a route known as the Namo Buddha pilgrimage. “From the Buddhist point of view, Namo Buddha is one of the most important religious sites in Nepal.”

#1 Not long into our journey we came across this 25metre tall statue of Buddha just to get us in the mood;

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#2. We arrived at the Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery “located at the sacred pilgrimage site of Namo Buddha, Nepal… home to more than 250 monks” just in time for lunch and very much enjoyed a hearty monk-cooked lunch with this for a view;

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#3 We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours wandering around the extensive monastery grounds. For my first experience of a Buddhist monastery I was amazed by the amazing wealth of paintings, carvings, embroideries and general bling. Though photos were not allowed of the most sacred religious areas here are a few examples from just the entrance halls;

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#4 A short way on past the monastery at the pinnacle of the hill is the site of “The Ancient Story of Namo Buddha – A long time in the past, many immeasurable eons ago, our teacher the perfect Buddha was practicing on the path of learning… the story of how he was overcome with compassion when he saw a tigress tormented by starvation and offered his body to her without a moment’s hesitation.” The immense number of prayer flags strung around the highest point of the hilltop, fluttering in the breeze, and the banks of candles ready to be lit in honour or remembrance made the spot really magical;

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#5 Afterwards we headed downhill slightly from the monastery to the main Stupa which was looking glorious in the sunshine;

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#6 And onwards downhill through woodland and then out into open paddy fields with the late afternoon sunshine catching the distant Mahabharata hills;

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#7 And last but not least (another 18km completed this day) the track brought us into Panauti the final destination on our mini trek. As it was still a big day of the Dashain holiday the paths were still full of Nepali walking to and from visiting relatives and the few buses we saw were jam packed and piled high with people heading home. Of course this meant our short bus journey back to Dhulikhel was a very cosy affair…

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#8 But we made it back to our rooftop in time for a well deserved, cold beer to accompany our final sunset over the Himalaya – cheers!

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