Boudhanath Temple sits like a gilded, all-seeing mushroom in down town Kathmandu, its omnipotent eyes gazing over the unsettling collection of third-world paraphernalia that tends to surround holy monuments: stray dogs, begging mothers with borrowed babies, hawkers selling Boudhanath key rings and mounds of burning rubbish pumping black, plastic fumes into the smoggy streets.
Past the crowds however, the inner sanctum is simply stunning. The gates give way to a wide-open circular expanse, separated from the city’s melee by ticket stands and armed guards and ringed by multi-storey restaurants, shops and prayer centres. The azure sky stretches overhead, filled with lilting prayer music as a whirlpool of a thousand chanting pilgrims slowly circles Boudhanath, touching each one of its spinning prayer wheels and pressing an oath to their foreheads.
There’s no escape once you’ve entered the human vortex at the base of this monstrously beautiful mandala.
As you’re gently carried along the clockwise current, circumnavigating this Buddhist spike of pure energy, all you can do it reach out, spin the wheels and drink in this sonorous slice of Nepalese Tibet.