Everything You Want to Know About Swayambhunath Temple – Major Attractions in Monkey Temple of Kathmandu Nepal

Everything You Want to Know About Swayambhunath Temple – Major Attractions in Monkey Temple of Kathmandu Nepal: – Swayambhunath temple Kathmandu Nepal is known as monkey Temple of Nepal. Swayambhunath is the most glorious Buddhist Stupa.

Swayambhunath is the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal and it is also known as monkey temple is the most ancient in this part of the world.

The Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple, is a major tourist attraction in Kathmandu. The Swayambhunath Temple is located on a hill west of Kathmandu and offers excellent views of the city. The Swayambhunath Temple was named “Temple of the Monkeys” due to a large number of sacred monkeys that reside there throughout the temple.

The surrounding area of ​​the Swayambhunath temple has a Tibetan name, which refers to raised trees due to the large number of trees on the hill. The Swayambhunath Temple is also one of the oldest and most sacred temples in Kathmandu. The Swayambhunath Temple was an important destination for Buddhist pilgrimages and today it is still a very important destination for religious adventurers.

Its worshippers are diverse from Newar nuns, Tibetan monks and Brahman priests to lay Buddhist and Hindus.  Located on a lovely little rock hill, Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the most fascinating architectural jewels of the world. Swayambhunath temple Kathmandu Nepal is a World Heritage Site.

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Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
A Monkey is eating Icecream in Swayambhunath

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Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
Tourists are seeing monkey in Swayambhunath

Swoyambhu literally means ‘Self-Existent One.’ Swayambhunath is believed to have been established more than 2,500 years ago. An inscription dated 460 A.D. states that the construction was carried out by King Manadeva. By the thirteenth century Swayambhunath had developed into an important Buddhist learning site.

Painted on the four sides of the spire’s base are all seeing eyes of lord Buddha, keeping an eternal watch on the valley distinguishing between vice and virtue. Swayambhunath is a major landmark of the valley provides an outstanding view of the Kathmandu valley. Swayambhunath Temple Kathmandu Nepal is popular places to visit in the world.

It takes 45 min of walk from city centre to get atop a green hillock west of Kathmandu stands the great  stupa of Swayambhunath. It lies about 3k.m. west of down town Kathmandu. There are two different ways to reach this site.

One is from the west side which is relatively a short cut and the other is from the east side that leads to the main entrance with 360 steps all the way to the top, where the most venerated Swoyambhu Stupa stands-commanding a magnificent view of Kathmandu Valley and the breathtaking panorama of the north eastern Himalayan range.

The golden spire of Swayambhunath stupa crowns a wooded hillock and offers a commanding view of Kathmandu city. On clear days, one can even view a line of Himalayan peaks. The view is splendid at dusk as city lights flicker one by one, and even better when a full moon hangs in the sky. Visit Swayambhunath temple Kathmandu Nepal.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
Burning Deep light in Swayambhunath

History of Swayambhunath temple Kathmandu Nepal

The history of Kathmandu Valley is said to have started with the beginning of Swoyambhu. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the Stupa. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri of Saraswati – the goddess of learning. Statues and shrines of Buddhist and Hindu deities dot the Stupa complex.

The establishment of Swayambhunath Stupa goes back to the legendary beginning of the Kathmandu Valley. The legend says that when the bodhisattva Manjushri drained the waters of the lake to reveal the Kathmandu valley, the lotus of the lake was transformed into the hillock and the blazing light became the Swoyambhu stupa. As the ancient legend goes Kathmandu Valley was a lake a long time ago.

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Right in the centre of this lake was a full blown lotus with the divine light a top. When Maha Manjushri, a saint from China heard about this he came rushing all the way from China to the Valley. He cut through the southern wall hill of the valley with his divine sword. The cleft made by the sword immediately drained the entire lake water making the valley floor open for a close up view of the divine lotus light. Swayambhunath temple Kathmandu Nepal.

Large numbers of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit Swayambhunath. Swoyambhu is perhaps the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal. The Stupa is atop a hill, and requires considerable walk. There is also a road that leads almost to the base of the statue.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
Peoples are riding ladders to the top of Swayambhunath Stupa

Generally a holy memorial site, the Stupa represents typical Buddhist architecture. Its main feature, the white dome, is identified with a spotless pure jewel of Nirvana and a thirteen tiered golden spire in conical shape surmounted on the dome. Underneath this towering structure is a pair of eyes of Buddha painted on all four sides of the Stupa. Swayambhunath Temple Kathmandu Nepal is popular Buddhist Stupa in the world.

The Stupa of Swayambhunath stands on a typically stylized lotus mandala base which a long time ago is believed to have originated from a legendary lake of Kathmandu Valley.

This holy site in fact is the massive stupa complex ever built in Nepal. Hundreds of votive shrines and other historical monuments built in and around this stupa speak a lot about the significance and antiquity of this famed stupa. Swayambhunath temple Kathmandu Nepal.

It lies about 3k.m. west of down town Kathmandu. There are two different ways to reach this site. One is from the west side which is relatively a short cut and the other is from the east side that leads to the main entrance with 360 steps all the way to the top, where the most venerated Swoyambhu Stupa stands-commanding a magnificent view of Kathmandu Valley and the breathtaking panorama of the north eastern Himalayan range.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
A tourist in Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhu, now a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, dates back to ancient times. The first written record of the Great Stupa of Swayambhu is an inscription from the fifth century. Honored by kings, monks and pilgrims alike, the stupa has been restored and repaired several times.

In 1349 it was damaged by an invading Muslim army and then repaired by King Saktimalle Bhalloka. In 1505, yogi Sangye Gyaltsen added the wheel and tower to the dome of the stupa. In 1614, the sixth Shamarpa had sanctuaries built in the stupa in four directions.

Some important lamas of Kagyu held a dedication ceremony in 1750 after a major renovation. The Swayambhunath stupa is also called the “temple of the monkeys” because hundreds of monkeys sneak through the temple at night after the pilgrims and priests leave.

Near Swayambhunath Hill there are other important temples such as the Shiva Jyotir Linga Temple in Pashupatinath, the Boudhanath Stupa, Changu Narayan, Dakshinkali and Budhanilkantha.

Every morning, before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims will climb the 365 steps that lead to the hill, passing the golden vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions that guard the entrance, and begin a series of circular rounds clockwise of the stupa (circle of Newari Buddhists) counterclockwise). On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are two large eyes.

These eyes are a symbol of the all-seeing perspective of God. There is no nose between the eyes, but a representation of the number one in the Nepalese alphabet, which means that the only path to enlightenment is the Buddhist path, which indicates the wisdom of looking inward.

No ears are shown because the Buddha is supposedly not interested in hearing prayers that praise him. On Swayambhunath Hill there is another fascinating temple, although smaller and less visited. This is Shantipur, the “place of peace”, in which the Tantric master Shantikar Acharya of the eighth century lives in a secret chamber, always closed and underground.

He practices meditation techniques that have preserved his life for countless centuries, and he is a great esoteric magician who has full power over the climate. If the Kathmandu valley is threatened by drought, the King of Nepal must enter the underground chamber to receive a secret Shantikar mandala.

Shortly after the mandala is taken outside and shown to heaven, it begins to rain. The frescoes on the interior walls of the temple show when this last happened in 1658. The small temple has a strong atmosphere; It is mysterious, severe and slightly threatening.

The famous Bhutanese master Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche (1918-2003), the last abbot of the Drugpa Kagyu Bhutan monastery on the western side of the Stupa, came to Nepal to help his uncle, the Drukpa Lama Sherab Dorje, restore and maintain Help to the stupa in the early twentieth century. The last renovation of Swayambhu Stupa was completed in May 2010.

Swayambhunath commands great view of Kathmandu valley and the Himalayas and a visit around sunset time will be highly enjoyed.

What is there to see at the Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu?

While the Swayambhunath Temple is a Buddhist temple, Hindus are also frequent visitors to the sacred sanctuary. The Harati Devi Temple is very popular among Hindu pilgrims and there are many other sacred temples and shrines around the Swayambhunath Temple.

The Shantipur Temple is not far from the Swayambhunath Temple and has an interesting feature: a holy man has been in meditation in the temple for approximately 1500 years.

When should you visit the Swayambhunath Temple?

On most weekends, the Swayambhunath Temple is full of people. During the Losar Festival between February and March and the Jayanti Buddha Festival in April and May and the Gunla Festival from August to September, there will be large crowds in and around the Swayambhunath Temple. Since these are great festivals, the Swayambhunath Temple will be quite crowded.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
Swayambhunath Stupa

The legend of Swayambhu.

Legend has it that the Kathmandu valley was once a lake where Swayambhu hill existed as an island. A natural crystal stupa stood on this hill. When the Buddha visited the place, he explained that it was a stupa that fulfilled the wishes, and that anyone who was touched by the wind blowing on the stupa received the seed of the liberation of the cycle of existence.

Swayambhunath Stupa is a golden tower that crowns a conical tree-lined hill and the oldest and most enigmatic sacred sanctuary in the Kathmandu Valley. The high white dome and the bright golden tower are miles away and are visible from all sides of the valley. Historical records on a stone inscription show that the stupa was an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination as early as the 5th century AD. C.

However, its origins are found long before, long before the arrival of Buddhism in the valley. A collection of legends about the site, the 15th century Swayambhu Purana, tells of a wonderful lotus planted by an ancient Buddha and flourishing of the lake that once covered the Kathmandu valley.

During this time, Bodhisattva Manjushri meditated on the sacred mountain Wu Tai Shan and had a vision of the blinding light of Swayambhu. Manjushri flew with his blue lion over the mountains of China and Tibet to worship the lotus.

Manjushri was deeply impressed by the power of radiant light and felt that the water of Lake Swayambhu would be more accessible to human pilgrims. With a great sword, Manjushri cut a ravine in the mountains surrounding the lake.

Wastewater left the Kathmandu valley today. The lotus became a hill and the light became the Stupa Swayabhunath.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
A baby is watching Buddha Pokhari at Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal

The Stupa functions

The stupa represents the mind of the Buddha. Visiting a stupa is meeting a Buddha in person. It offers peace, freedom and joy to everyone and, ultimately, helps us achieve perfect enlightenment.

Just seeing, listening, thinking or touching a stupa promotes peace and even spiritual liberation. The stupa relieves physical and mental difficulties, such as illness, famine and conflict in all areas and directions.

Spiritual exercises are more powerful when performed near stupas than in other powerful places. Visitors and pilgrims walk around the stupa clockwise, recite mantras, make offerings, turn prayer wheels and make wishes for the benefit of all beings.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
a couple selfie at Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal

The area around the stupa

The Swayambhu Stupa or Chaitya is located at the highest point of the twin summit, which rises in the middle of the Kathmandu Valley. If you go up the long staircase on the east side of the hill and go up the last section of the stairs, you will directly see the Buddha’s eyes painted on the top of the stupa.

The fifth Arocena Buddha is located next to the sanctuary of Akshobya. The sanctuaries among them contain various forms of female bodhisattva tare. The surroundings of the Stupa are full of chaityas, temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects.

There are many small shrines with statues of tantric deities and shamans, Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels, Shiva Lingams (now dressed as Buddhist Chaityas and adorned with the faces of Dhyani Buddhas) and a popular Hindu temple dedicated to Harati, the Holy Spirit. Goddess of smallpox and other epidemics.

The presence of the Harati Devi temple means mixing the pantheons of Hinduism and Buddhism in the development of Nepal’s religious tendencies. Since the Buddhists did not have a deity in their own pantheon to protect themselves from the dreaded smallpox, they accepted the Hindu deity as support.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
Statue of Lord Buddha in Swayambhunath Temples

The Karma Raja Maha Vihara Monastery

The Shri Karma Raja Maha Vihara Monastery is located on the north side of the Stupa and is the headquarters of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in Nepal, led by Abbot Sabchu Rinpoche. The current monastery has been continuously improved since its foundation with the support of many Buddhist donors.

In the early 1970s, the 16th Karmapa stayed here for several months to practice special teachings, teach and give audience to hundreds of disciples. Thereafter, the monastery continued the traditional monastery curriculum and meditation practices under his direction.

After the death of the sixteenth Karmapa, the fourteenth Kunmar Shamar Rinpoche (the second highest lama of the Karma Kagyu lineage, whose duties include the identification of the reincarnations of Karmapa) took over the monastery and then handed it over to SH on 17. Gyalwa Karmapa continues. Trinley Thaye Dorje. There are currently 60 monks in the monastery.

Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal Monkey Temple Buddhist Images Photos
BuddhaPark at Swayambhunath Stupa Kathmandu Nepal

Major points of Swayambhunath Temple

  1. The complex consists of a stupa, several shrines and temples, some of which date from the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, a museum and a library are new additions. Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows are painted on the stupa. Among them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted as a nose.
  2. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long staircase that leads directly to the main platform of the temple, which extends from the top of the hill to the east; and a road around the hill that leads from the south to the southwest entrance.
  3.  The first view of the stairs is the Vajra. Tustin Alline describes the experience: To the northwest of the main stupa there is another important sanctuary associated with a fascinating legend. Shantipur is a small, simple and box-shaped temple that contains a great treasure: a holy and living man who has been meditating there for 1500 years.
  4. Legend has it that Shanti Shri, who lived in the fifth century, locked himself in a vault under the temple and promised to stay there until Kathmandu Valley needed him. Having entered a mystical state, he has achieved immortality and remains there to help the locals when necessary.
  5. In 1658, King Pratap Mela went down alone to seek refuge from the drought of Shanti Shri. The king reported that he had gone through several underground rooms more frightening than the previous one. The first contained large bats and hawks, the second host hungry ghosts clung painfully to him, and the third was full of snakes chasing him until he calmed them with milk. The king found the saint in the last room, thin as a skeleton but still alive and meditating. Shanti Shri gave the king a mandala that brought the necessary rain.
  6. You can visit the outer sanctuary of the sinister temple. It is adorned with faded frescoes of the Swayam Purana, a 17th-century fountain that tells the story of the creation of the Kathmandu Valley. Shantipur is also called Akashpur (Sky Place) and is the fifth element. The story of her success is inscribed in the twin bells before her.
  7.  Local monks sing daily at 3 or 4pm. In the northwest corner is Agnipur, a neglected sanctuary of the ancient Hindu god of fire Agni, which offers burnt offerings to the heavens. Between these two is north of the main Nagpur stupa, a small tank with a snake idol on the ground. This helps calm the notorious snake spirits of the valley.
  8. We were out of breath and sweating when we stumbled upon the last steep steps and practically found the largest vajra (scepter of lightning) I’ve ever seen. Beyond that vajra, the wide round white dome of the stupa was like a solid skirt, with two giant Buddha eyes on the top, looking wisely at the quiet valley that had just come alive.
  9. The main entrance to the temple is from the east side, where 365 ancient steps lead to the steep wooded slope. The base is about 20 minutes’ walk from the center of Kathmandu. These stairs are the only route that pilgrims would consider, and for each visitor, the most memorable way to experience the stupa. However, an alternative is to take a taxi or a car to the west side, where there are only a few steps to get to the top.
  10. At the bottom of the eastern staircase there is a brightly painted door with a huge Tibetan prayer wheel almost 3 meters high. It takes two people to turn, and one bell rings every time. Around the door are dozens of smaller wheels. Followers turn the prayer wheels to say goodbye to prayers and mantras in heaven; Visitors are also invited.
  11. On the stairs there are three 17th-century painted Buddha statues near the pedestal (women prostrate early in the morning). Another group above is from the early twentieth century.
  12. Along the stairs there are numerous Mani stones, which are labeled with the Tibetan mantra Om Mani Padme Hum (“Healing the jewel in the lotus”). Merchants sell smaller versions of the stones to tourists. The staircase leads through a beautiful forest where hundreds of monkeys live, giving the temple its nickname.
  13. The central buildings and decorations of Swayambhunath are rich in Buddhist symbols. The whitewashed dome of the main stupa represents the lap of creation, with a phallic complement in the quadrangular tower. From the tower rises a tower of 13 golden discs that represent the steps towards lighting. The umbrella above symbolizes the illumination itself; Some say it contains a shell of gems.
  14. The famous eyes of the Buddha, who look sleepy from each side of the tower (in the four cardinal directions), are those of the primordial Buddha who sees everything. Between each of the pairs of eyes there is a symbol that looks like a question mark: this is the Nepalese number “1” and represents the unity of all things. The gold plates that rise above the eyes like a crown show the five Dhyani Buddhas associated with the five senses, the four cardinal directions plus the center and many other symbolic groups of five.
  15. The Five Dhyani Buddhas are also honored with special shrines at the foot of the stupa. They face the four main directions, and one is slightly to the left of the east to represent the middle direction. Among them are shrines for four wives of the Buddhas. The nine shrines are connected by a chain of prayer wheels and butter lamps. The five main sanctuaries are surrounded by a beautiful gilt copper deposit, known as the Kathmandu Valley.
  16. On the platform around the main stupa there are many other sanctuaries and votive buildings, most of which have been donated by kings and lamas in the last four centuries
  17. These include the Harati Devi Temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess of smallpox and other epidemics, as well as a child protector. The small brick pagoda is popular with Hindus and Buddhists, especially mothers seeking blessings for their children.
  18. The petitioners throw petals, rice, gunpowder and holy water on the image of the Harati and then receive a Tika from the resident priest. Monkeys, stray dogs and pigeons discuss rice and food and contribute to the chaotic atmosphere. The image of the goddess dates back to the 19th century; He replaces the original that mistreated King Frog Bahadur Shah after his wife died of smallpox.
  19. The food supply for Harati (usually stew, rice and bread) is prepared in a kitchen on the ground floor of a gompa (monastery prayer room) on the west side of the complex. Visitors can climb steps to the Gompadach, which is similar to the eyes of the Buddha. From here you have a beautiful view over the Stupa and the Kathmandu valley.
  20. The base of this stupa is shaped like a cube. On all four sides there is a Toran in a pentagonal shape. There are two eyes on each side of the stupa. This indicates that God is omnipresent. On each pair of eyes there is another eye, the Eye of Wisdom. On each side of the stupa there is Panch Buddha (five Buddhas). Pass the stairs to the temple and you will find two statues of lions guarding the entrance. However, if you are ready to drive to the west side of the Stupa, you will find another entrance. With smaller steps.
  21. At the east end of the stairs there is a large door with a twelve foot Tibetan prayer wheel. Each bell rings a bell. Near the door there are numerous small wheels on which tourists can turn and pray. Directly in front of the stairs you will find three 17th-century Buddha statues. These statues are adored by women. Along the stairs you will find many Tibetan stones inscribed. You can also see small shops where merchants sell stone replicas to tourists. The staircase takes you through a forest area where numerous monkeys live.
  22. The main stupa building is a white dome. The stupa is full of numerous statues and artifacts. From the tower you can find a golden tower with 13 steps. On the roof of the tower there is a bowl of precious stones. Around the main building there are many other sanctuaries. All were donated by kings and other political figures.
  23. It is better to visit the temple early in the morning before 9 o’clock. This is the time when you can find many rituals and pilgrims in the complex. During the day, you will be surrounded by tourists who take pictures and do other tourist things. If you visit on Saturday, the temple will be full of locals and tourists. Saturday is the day of rest in this country and you can find many main activities during Saturday in this temple.
  24. In terms of weather, spring and autumn are the best times to visit Kathmandu. September to mid-May is the right time to visit the temple.
  25. In terms of religious holidays, Buddha Jayanth of April / May and Losar of February / March are the best time to visit this temple. The Gunla Festival in August or September is also a good time to visit. However, during the rainy season, it would be more difficult for tourists to enjoy sightseeing and other activities.

Swayambhunath Temple Kathmandu Nepal – Monkey Temple of Nepal

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With Shishir Acharya

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Jitendra Sahayogee

I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a writer of 12 Nepali literature books, film director of Maithili film & Nepali short movies, photographer, founder of the media house, designer of some websites and writer & editor of some blogs, has expert knowledge & experiences of Nepalese society, culture, tourist places, travels, business, literature, movies, festivals, celebrations.

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