Swyambhunath stupa is one of the 7 world heritage site inside the Kathmandu valley. It lies west from the main tourist center Thamel. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist site in Nepal. It is said that it was made in 5th century era. Its origins are linked to the founding of the valley by draining the water of the lake by boddhiasttva manjushree. Swyambhu manifested in the lake as a brilliant light emanating from a lotus and manjushree let the water out by slashing a passage through the surrounding hills to facilitate paying homage to swayambhu, thus making the valley inhabitable. Due to many monkeys around there it is also called Monkey Temple.
Swayambhunath Stupa is a golden spire crowning a conical wooded hill. It is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu Valley. It has a lofty white dome and a glittering golden spire that are visible from all sides of the valley. Historical records found on a stone inscription give evidence that the stupa was already an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination by the 5th century A.D. i.e. before the coming of Buddhism in the valley.
Area Surrounding The Stupa
The surroundings of Swyambhunarayan Stupa consists of chaityas, temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects.
The temple is dedicated to the goddess of smallpox and other epidemics. The presence of the Harati Devi temple signifies the intermingling of the pantheons of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal.
Palace Of Peace
Atop Swyambhunath hill is another fascinating, though less visited temple, Shantipur, popularly known as the ‘Palace of Peace’. It is said that inside the secret underground chamber of the temple lives the 8th century Tantric master, Shantikar Acharya. The master, it is believed, has lived through centuries and has full control on the weather and the King of Kathmandu must go to him in times of drought.
Amazing to look at, the architectural beauty of Swayambunath Temple gives way to the feelings of reverence and adoration. The stupa consists of a dome at the base and a cubical structure with eyes of Buddha looking in all the four directions. There are pentagonal Toran present above each of the four sides with statues engraved in them. Behind and above the torana there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers, there is a small space above which the Gajur is present.
According to Swayambhu Puran, the entire Kathmandu valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a mystical Lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning ‘Self-Created’ or ‘Self-Existent’. The Bodhistava Manjushri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it.
In order to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjushri cut a gorge through the mountains surrounding the valley. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower become the Swayambhunath stupa.
The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person gets free (represented by eyes of mercy and self knowledge) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state a bit higher. After that, the person has to cross thirteen stages represented by the tiers before attaining Nirvana (salvation).
How To Reach
There are two ways to reach the top of the monkey temple: the first and the most common is to get there with a car but the most beautiful way to reach the top of this amazing temple is to climb the 365 stairs of the temple