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Originally published Friday, March 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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Pigeons and pilgrims flock to sacred site in Nepal

Tibetan monks and nuns flock to Bodhnath Stupa, a Buddhist temple that's one of the most important, and most visited, religious sites in Nepal.

NW Traveler editor

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Nepal tourism office: welcomenepal.com

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DON'T FEED the pigeons.

Try telling that to a Tibetan Buddhist monk on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal, who cheerfully doles out treats to a swarm of birds.

For their part, maroon-robed Tibetan monks and nuns flock to the nearby Bodhnath (also known as Bouddhanath) Stupa, a Buddhist temple that's one of the most important, and most visited, religious sites in Nepal.

Believed to be about 700 years old, the stupa draws locals and Tibetan Buddhists, in exile from their land since China's takeover of Tibet in the late 1950s, for prayer and meditation.

With its gleaming white masonry bedecked with prayer flags, sculptures and prayer wheels, Bodhnath rises above the narrow-street neighborhood of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, shops (yak butter, anyone?) — and pigeons.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times' NWTraveler editor. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.

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