Last week we drove up to the Seto Gumba (Druk Amitabh Mountain)- The White Gumba in Kathmandu, locally referred to as Nepal’s Potala Palace. The trip up the mountain was a little fraught. The monastery only opens to the public on Saturdays, and is a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. The road up the mountain is narrow in places, and the traffic gets a little clogged.
However, it is well worth the effort. Entry is through the wide gate beautifully decorated with dragons and Buddhas, and from which there are spectacular views back across the valley. Entry to the site was free, which was surprising considering the huge expense it must take to maintain the monastery and sculptures. The White Gomba was constructed fairly recently, and on a grand scale. We walked around the beautifully landscaped grounds marvelling at the numerous huge gold statues of Deities including Padmasambhava, Tara, and several statues of the Buddha. The monastery itself is large and consists of a number of white buildings in Tibetan style. Approximately 300 nuns reside and practice in Seto Gumba. Everyday, they wake up at various Buddhist 3am and finish their day at about 11pm. The youngest nun is about 9 years’ old and the oldest, about 60 years’ old. They come from remote places in Tibet, Ladakh, Lahaul, Bhutan and Sikkim.
The main temple room is a wonder (no photos allowed here) with finely decorated ceilings and walls of copper statues, and another huge Padmasambhava statue. From the large open spaces around the white buildings you can look out over the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The White Gumba is a “must see” for visitors to Kathmandu.