Of course, the two World Heritage Site monuments, that is, Swoyambhunath Stupa and Boudhanath Stupa, are the most celebrated Buddhist shrines in Nepal, but there are many other shrines that are also sacred to all Buddhists, both in Nepal and internationally. These are essential parts of the great Buddhist pilgrimage circuit in Nepal, as well as of joyous celebration during the most important days in the Buddhist calendar. Hiranyavarna Mahavihar, or the Golden Temple, as it is world-renowned, is situated very close to the famous Patan Durbar Square, another of Kathmandu Valley’s World Heritage Site monuments, in Lalitpur. This three-roofed shrine, built in the typical pagoda style, houses a large and shining silver statue of Sakyamuni Buddha inside silver embossed doors. It is a revered site for countless numbers of devotees, many of whom come here in the early hours of the morning every day, not only to pay homage and seek blessings, but also to imbibe and be uplifted by the serene spiritual ambience. The early hours is when you’ll see numerous butter lamps burning sparklingly bright, the sweet fragrance of many bundles of incense sticks, the rhythmic chanting of prayers, and the presence of a large number of fervent Buddhists bowing down low to the Buddha. There’s a smaller temple in front of the main one, which is also as intricately decorated with the traditional gilt roof and copper patakas (metal banners descending from the pinnacle). Inside is a silver replica of the great Swoyambhunath Stupa. As you enter the Golden Temple, you’ll come across a double lotus podium on which sits a Dharma Dhatu Mandala with a heavy vajra on top, and as you look around the courtyard, you’ll see figures of Namo Sangeeti, Vajra Satva, Mahankal, Guheswori, Tara, and Manjushree, all of them revered deities in Buddhism. Climbing up to the first floor, there’s a long gumba (prayer/meditation hall) where is located a tall statue of Amoghapasa Lokeswor (eight-handed Buddha), very ancient-looking pau:bhas (religious painting in scroll form), as well as a really big prayer wheel, which just invites you to give it a whirl. The Amitabha Sukhawati Bhawan is also on the first floor, and in it stands a large statue of Amitabha Buddha. In fact, so many are the important deities in the Golden Temple, that it is said you don’t have to visit the other shrines if you are visiting here. Another great monastery in Kathmandu is Dharmakirti Vihar, which is located at Shreega in Naghal, on the way to Thamel. It was founded in 1965 by the illustrious Newari businessman and philanthropist Bhajuratna Kansakar and his wife Jyan Jyoti Kansakar. Its primary goal is to propagate the tenets of Theravada Buddhism, also known as the "Doctrine of the Elders". This branch of Buddhism is based on the scriptural inspiration of the Tipitaka, or Pali canon, which is believed to contain the earliest surviving record of Gautam Buddha's teachings. Theravada is the predominant religion of countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. The monastery has twenty lifetime ordained nuns, who are known as anagarikas, along with the chief abbot, who is known as Aanagarika Dhammwati. While it conducts puja and Dharma Desana (preaching of Dharma) five days a month, during the month of Gunla (the month of prayer and fasting in July/August), puja are held daily. This important festival is to commemorate the so-called “rains retreat”, when Gautam Buddha led his disciples into solitary meditation some twenty-five-hundred years ago. The vihar runs regular meditation camps, spiritual classes, and ordination programs, aside from providing moral education to preschoolers though its educational foundation.