The co-existence of Buddhism and Hinduism

Nepal is a great example of the peaceful co-existence of different ethnic groups and people following different religions. There is a certain seamless transition between Buddhist followers and Hindu followers. Many newars of Kathmandu Valley in fact see themselves as being Hindu-Buddhist, as direct descendants of the Sakya-muni clan. You can visit both Pashupatinath, one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites and Boudhanath stupa on the same day due as they are about 30 minutes drive from one another.

Located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, Pashupatinath is one of the most important shrines of the Hindu God Shiva. The temple draws thousands of devotees from Nepal and India during the popular festival of Mahashivaratri that falls in spring (February/March). This is one of the largest temple complexes in Nepal. Tourists come to Pashupati to observe the cremations at Aryaghat where the Nepali people carry out funeral rites for the deceased. Besides the funeral ceremonies, Sadhus, the followers of Shiva who have given up their worldly desires, with their ash-covered skin and dreadlocks, are also tourist attractions and are commonly photographed by visitors.

Boudha Stupa is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for people following both Newar and Tibetan Buddhism. The stupa is the largest in Nepal and is completely surrounded by buildings housing shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels with a few monasteries. People are seen taking “a kora” (a full circle in the clockwise direction) around the the stupa at all times of the day. The neighborhood has a large Tibetan presence and many Tibetan festivals are held here, like Lhosar, the Tibetan New Year celebration. While you are at Boudhanath, don’t forget to see the view from the Terrace of the Roadhouse Café, Bouddha.