Swayambhunath Stupa / Monkey Temple
Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in Nepal, as well as a famous landmark of the country. This is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist stupas. It is believed this famed landmark existed for more than 2500 years old, for most visitors, it is known as the “Monkey Temple”. The stupa forms the main structure amidst the whole premises. It is constructed of a solid hemisphere of bricks and clay that supports a lofty conical dome-shaped spire.
It is capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt, and painted on the four cardinal sides of the spire; are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. Situated about 3 km. west of Kathmandu city, the whole Stupa and its interesting compound are located on a hillock. The lower side of the hill is covered in lush green vegetation and tall tree lines. Which is at 7 meters above the Kathmandu valley floor, the Stupa and its surroundings are a mosaic of monuments. Includes Chaitiya or Stupas and pagodas temples with a monastery treasures a tall bronze statue of Maître the future Buddha. An interesting place to visit is the monastery interior to observe the monks and priests in religious activities and prayers.
One can relax with the sound of monks, and priests chanting mantras/prayers with the rhythms of drums, cymbals, and trumpets. Inside the monastery, the main assembly prayer hall is adorned with large statues of Lord Buddha and important famous saints and gurus. Visitors can watch silently and feel the serene environment and take a short circuit of the monastery interior.
While visiting or paying homage to the saint and lord of Buddhism, various people from all walks of life; visit the Swayambhunath Stupa and its temples from all parts of Nepal, India as well as foreign tourists.
The most visited people are Buddhist pilgrims and devotees from all across South East Asia. A great spot for panoramic views of Kathmandu city and the valley, surrounded by tiers of green rolling hills.
On a clear fine morning and mid-afternoon, one can catch the views of the snow-capped peaks of Ganesh, Langtang Himal. As far as Jugal Himal in the North East direction, with a great contrast of white peaks against green hills.
The Swayambhunath Stupa and whole complex are also popularly named the ‘Monkey Temple’. Due to a large number of Rhesus monkeys that resides in the nearby thin forest, and dwells around Swayambhunath premises.
The name Monkey Temple is much easier and simple for outside visitors rather than pronouncing the word Swayambhunath.
The History And Belief Of Swayambhunath:
The history and beliefs of Swayambhunath are much older than the actual hemisphere dome stupa and monuments. The story and belief are based on King Manadeva of the 13th century, and way back to 460 A.D. King Manadeva built the large dome Stupa or Chaitiya, to mark the holy spot as an important center of Buddhism.
The other legend believes at one time Swayambhu existed naturally out of a Lotus flower. Which bloomed in the middle of a lake that once was Kathmandu valley, before it was drained. By the sword of an angel and saint Manjushree, who came from China, Tibet with the purpose to release the water to make a valley, where people could settle on the fertile land?
Swayambhunath then became an ancient religious complex atop a hill from the Kathmandu Valley floor. The Tamang ancient tribe migrated from Inner Mongolia and Tibet and named the site ‘Shingkun’ means ‘Sublime Trees’. Related to many varieties of trees that flourished Swayambhu hill which also means ‘self-sprung’.
The history and many old beliefs and legends are mentioned of Swayambhunath and its great Chaitiya.
The official name has come to be known as Swayambhunath Stupa, it was recorded in the first place; as Singru-Vihare-Caitya-Bhatjarika.
The Fact Of Swayambhunath:
The Lord Buddha is painted in orange, white, blue, and black around the four cardinal directions. The center of the eyes and marked as the nose is a divine figure, which resembles a symbol of a question mark.
Represents and signifies Buddha’s as from the old Vedic, making it different from other gods. The mystical eyes as eternal watchfulness over the people of the universe activities, on the top below the spire, are the thirteen cardinal steps to Nirvana.
On top of a spire stands an umbrella that represents the stages to Heaven.
The lower part of the Stupa with 211 prayer wheels surrounds the whole monument. Which is a religious instrument for chanting prayer as the pilgrims and devotees spin the wheel in a clockwise direction.
The prayers that people chants holds the holy Mantras “Om Mani Padme Hun” which means ‘Hail the Jewel in a Lotus’. The Buddhism pilgrimage has been based as early as when humans settled in the Kathmandu valley. The oldest mythology belief mentions the holy site by the great Buddhist monk and architect. Who built this big dome of a Stupa known as Chaitiya, the early king Brishadev of the Lichavi era had accepted the Buddhist religion.
How To Reach Swayambhunath Stupa:
To reach Swayambhunath from Kathmandu city one can take a cab for less than half an hour’s drive, with two options. The main entrance gate is on the east side of Swayambhunath Hilltop, a long steep climb on steps. Brings you to the complex of Swayambhunath in front of a big Dorje or Vajra. Resembles as a power like a Thunderbolt or Lightening, important religious items of the priest on prayers ceremony.
The next easy route is driving on the western side of Swayambhunath reaching a car park. Located close to the main entrance an easy walk on a wide path to the top of Swayambhunath premises.
Other than Nepal citizen, where visitors needs entrance tickets of NRS 200 per person. The price can differ every season of the year without prior notice; where your guide will be aware of the new fee price.
Seasons To Visit Swayambhunath Stupa:
Nepal for all seasons of the year-round, having four main seasons.
Namely, spring from March to May, summer / Monsoon starts from June to August, and autumn/fall. Starting from September to November and the winter months of December to February.
Travelers can visit within these seasons of the year except the summer/monsoon wet rainy months of mid-June to August. The rest of the seasons are mild with enough sunshine days for views and pleasant tours.