ARE BUDDHISTS BETTER LOOKING? – Nepal

Thupten Chholing monastery, Nepal

Why does the sight of a buddhist priest or nun always fill me with an irresistible urge to pull out the camera? There is no scene, whether in a crowded city street or in pristine wilderness, that won’t be enhanced by including a robed figure with a shaved head.

Boudhanath, Kathmandu

Outside Boudhanath Temple, Kathmandu

The Presbyterian ministers of my youth never had this effect on me. If I ever met the pope, I might organise a happy snap, but I find his costume OTT and not particularly photogenic. Besides, it reminds me of the Dutch Sinterklaas.

And you wouldn’t expect to see His Holiness the pope swinging a pick like this. His Holiness the head lama has no problem with it.

Phungmochhe, Nepal

Buddhist temples and monuments usually add something to the landscape. Not that there aren’t some attractive churches under impressive mountains too, but few are quite as good as this…

Or this…

Stupa, Thyangbochhe Monastery, Nepal

To say nothing of this…

Stupa below Mt Everest (left peak) and Mt Lhotse


The writer was the guest of World Expeditions.

6 Comments

Filed under Himalayas, travel photography

6 responses to “ARE BUDDHISTS BETTER LOOKING? – Nepal

  1. Penny Azar

    Richard, Vashti Farrer wrote a picture book after seeing cats in a temple. The colour, the flavour are atmospheric. You are absorbing a higher degree of atmosphere being their. I wonder if it’s a little like perhaps the experience of seeing a shakespeare play at the original round theatre.

    Perhaps (?)

    • Interesting you should say that, Penny. I was surprised to see that some of Nepalese monasteries are built around square open courtyards, surrounded by covered balconies on the second floor, which make them very reminiscent of Shakespearean theatres.

      They hold ceremonies there of course, but also festive performances. Unfortunately, we just missed one by a few hours at Thyangbochhe.

  2. Don’t human beings do amazing things? These buildings are gorgeous in their incredibly beautiful settings. I’m still pretty fond of the Duomo in Siena – my favourite church in Italy. I don’t think I could be more impressed by them if I was a believer.

    • I like the Siena Duomo too, Debra – I think it’s those black and white striped pillars, apparently designed by the team that brought us the classic old Keystone Cops striped prison uniforms.

  3. Are there many bicycles in Nepal, Richard? If so, do many of the cyclists wear helmets? I’m told here in Melbourne we’ve solved the problem of bicycle hire by making helmets also available for hire free of charge. You’d want a good range of gears, wouldn’t you, to navigate the landscapes in these images!

    • Bicycles, Stephen? Gears? You’d need to make roads first. Out in the villages I didn’t even see a wheelbarrow. Everything gets carried in baskets and bundles by man, mule or yak.

      But in Kathmandu there are quite a lot of bikes, pedalled and motorised, and the few daring souls who brave the traffic sometimes even wear helmets. I should post a few photos of this – good thought!

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