Inside the main temple of Kopan monastery.

© FotoVSmirnov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Kopan Monastery


On a hilltop north of Bodhnath, Kopan is popular among foreigners for its courses in Tibetan Buddhism. Visitors are welcome to explore the monastery and join in the morning meditation sessions.

Kopan Monastery was founded by Lama Thubten Yeshe, who died in 1984, leading to a worldwide search for his reincarnation. A young Spanish boy, Osel Torres, was declared to be the reincarnated lama, providing the inspiration for Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Little Buddha. Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche no longer resides at Kopan (he recently renounced his vows to become a cinematographer in Ibiza!).

You can visit Kopan on the pleasant walk between Bodhnath and the Gokarna Mahadev Temple or even from Nagi Gompa in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. A taxi here from Kathmandu costs around Rs 600, or Rs 300 from Bodhnath.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Nepal attractions

1. Shechen Gompa

1.28 MILES

This huge complex was established by the famous Nyingmapa lama Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche to replace the destroyed Shechen Gompa in eastern Tibet. Today the…

2. Ka-Nying Sheldrup Ling Gompa


The handsome ‘white gompa’ is home to 225 monks and features ornamental gardens and a richly decorated interior with some fine murals. The main prayer…

3. Tharlam Gompa

1.35 MILES

This Sakya school monastery lies at the end of a long winding access road and has the normal combination of monk dormitories and colourful central prayer…

4. Sakya Tharig Gompa

1.37 MILES

Take the alley running northeast from the Bodhnath Stupa, past the small Gelugpa Samtenling Gompa, and turn right to reach the Sakya Tharig Gompa. This…

5. Pal Dilyak Gompa

1.39 MILES

Come to this Karma Kagyud school monastery in the early morning or afternoon to catch the monks' prayer ceremony.

6. Pal Nye Gompa


This Karma Kagyud school monastery was undergoing rebuilding at the time of research but the colourful interiors should reopen soon.

7. Guru Lhakhang

1.43 MILES

This prominent lhakhang (chapel) houses an impressive three-storey statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the 7th-century magician and holy man who…

8. Harati (Ajima) Shrine

1.44 MILES

This small shrine dedicated to Hariti (Ajima), the goddess of smallpox, marks the entryway to the upper levels of the Bodhnath Stupa.