At the invitation and with compliments of Mr Goh Teng Seng, we visited Nepal. Incidentally he is a lifelong member of Mangala Vihara Buddhist Temple and his maternal uncle, the late Fong Peck Kew, was the first Chairman of the Committee.
Nyanang Phelgyeling Monastery, Kathmandu
The trip was a pilgrimage to Nyanang Phelgyeling Monastery at Kathmandu. He is the benefactor who played a pivotal role in terms of effort and finance, towards its construction.
Nyanang Phelgyeling Monastery at Kahmandu, was originally located in Nyanang, Tibet not far from the Nepali border. It was during the 1959 crises with China that some of the monks fled to Nepal taking many sacred items with them. After staying at various monasteries in Kathmandu for many years a group of monks from the original Phelgyeling finally decided to lay the foundation for the new monastery in 1972 at the foot of the Swayambhu Stupa.
We also visited many holy sites, temples, stupas, pagodas, meditation centers, religious schools, bookshops as well as the enthralling sight of the Himalayan Mountain ranges with snowcapped peaks and the Phewa Lake of Pokhara Valley district some 270 kilometers away from Kathmandu.
Boudhanath Stupa is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is located in the town of Boudha on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. The ancient Buddhist stupa which dominates the skyline is one of the largest in the world. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Boudhanath. The stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha.
Pokhara Valley is the second largest valley in the hilly region of Nepal. The city of Pokhara is one of the major cities of Nepal, and probably among one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It is a place that is rich in natural beauty. Mount Machchapuchre (Fishtail) whose reflection falls on the crystal clear water of Phewa Lake, is to the north of the valley.
Pema Ts’al Sakya Monastic Institute
It is a unique and beautiful place, situated on a quiet hilltop near Nepal’s famous Phewa Lake and in front of the Fishtail Mountain. A non-profit educational monastery is a home to many young students from the inaccessible impoverished Himalayan region. Presently it has 30 students studying in the college and 56 in the school. Perma Ts’al provides a comprehensive educational programme that has been sanctioned by the Nepali government for all young monks. They are educated in Tibetan English, Nepali, Science, Social Studies and Maths.
Swayambunath is also known as the Money Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. It is said that Manjushri, the bodhisatta of wisdom and learning was raised in the hill which the Temple now stands. He was supposed to keep his hair short but allowed it to grow long and became infested with lice. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.
Srongtsen Bhrikuti Boarding High School
Srongtsen Bhrikuti Boarding High School was established in 1982 with only 100 students and a dozen staff member. It is one of the largest Tibetan schools in Nepal today with over 738 students and 56 trained staff members. Gradually, as the school started expanding over the years, boarding facility was added and it became a full fledged boarding school. The current principal Venerable Jampa Phuntsok took charge in 1989. During his tenure, the new school building and dormitory was constructed by funds from SOIR-IM and the school shifted to a new premise. When he retires in three years’ time he has the desire to return to Nyanang Phelgyeling Monastery, where he came from.
The most sacred site to the Buddhists in Nepal is none other than Lubmini.
The journey continues in the next episode: An enthralling trip to Nepal – Lumbini & Kapilavattu.
Contributor: Chin Kee Thou