Monday, August 25, 2014

Nepal: Swayambhunath Stupa (aka The Monkey Temple)


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Friday, 09 May 2014





It was 4:00 PM of the day when I have decided to visit the Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप). To save the Taxi fare I started walking from the Thamel (ठमेल) to reach the Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप). It was a long, dull walking under the hot sun of Spring in Nepal (नेपाल). I had to walk unnecessarily a long way as my GPS wasn't working for a several minutes. But there was a very short-cut route available from Thamel (ठमेल) and I have missed that.


My tiring walking ended at the bottom stair of the eastern gate of the temple. Initially I didn't know that the stairs were so long and steep. But still I was climbing slowly. I was taking rest (as I grew older? and do not have much stamina?) frequently and enjoying the bargaining of local vendor and the white-skin foreign tourists. One of them was trying to sell a handkerchief for 5000 rupees and the clever tourists just called him a crazy vendor.


After few initial steps, three 12 feet tall statues of Buddha are placed in an array. I was observing those statues and also was taking photo using my cell phone. I was disguised amongst the local people and none of the irritating vendors paid any attention towards me. Lucy me!





It took a while (actually more than expected time) to reach at the top of those stairs. Lot of tourists along with local visitors were occupying the top. I was standing a side at the top from where the whole Kathmandu valley was open in front of me. After taking a break on there I started to explore the temple premise.


It has few small temples around it. Few more statues of Buddha were around the other sides. It also had few roof top restaurants and the souvenir shops around. I was hungry (starving the whole day) and wanted to have my meal from one of those. But unfortunately I didn't find any tourists over there. So I have controlled my mind from going there.


There were a small pond named World Peace Pond located at the western side of the temple. It has a brass made statue of standing Buddha (on Lotus flower) at the middle of it. It has a bucket in front of it and the people were trying to throw the coins of one and two rupee on that bucket. Local people were selling the coins beside that place. I enjoyed others who were throwing coins, but I didn't throw any.


I have left the place at around 6:40 pm after observing the premise. I exit the temple through the gate of the Southern side. I didn't buy any ticket as I have entered through the eastern side, and also I do not like an outsider. Also, I wasn't carrying any bag, camera or anything that can make others to feel I am a tourist.





About Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप):

Swayambhunath (स्वयम्भूनाथ) temple (mainly known as Swayambhunath Stupa) also known as The Monkey Temple is located at the Western side of the Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ) valley of Nepal (नेपाल). It is located at the top of a small hill and it is a very sacred place for the Buddhist devotees. According to the mythology, a Lotus flower converted into a Stupa (स्तुप) atop of the hill by itself. That's why it is known as Swayambhunath Stupa (means self created in Nepali language).


The temple is also known as Monkey Temple because the holy monkeys were living there. Those monkeys were actually transformed from the lice of Manjushree's (मञ्जुश्री) hair (he who raised the mountain on that the temple is standing). While visiting the temple, you must have to be beware from the monkeys before they snatch or steal things from you.


Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) has two main entrances, one is at the eastern side that has 365 high steps which leads you to the top of the temple. Another one is at the southern side (most people reach there by car) with a ticket counter. If you are young and enthusiastic then you must enter the temple by climbing the steps. This is tiring, but you'll enjoy it at the end.





This temple is sacred for both Buddhist and the Hindu religion. The powerful Hindu king of 17th century named Pratap Malla (प्रताप मल्ल) along with other Monarchs used pay their homage to this temple. The king Pratap Malla (प्रताप मल्ल) built those stairs at the eastern side of the temple.


From the inscription it is found that the Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) was built during the 5th century. But lot of people use to believe that it is even before that. They believe it is standing since 1st century. During this period the temple was renovated only 15 times (unbelievable in 1500 years). Even the last one was during 2010 which was first after 1921. That time the dome was re-glided with 20 kg of gold.


At the top, beside the Stupa (स्तुप) you'll find lot of souvenir shops, roof top restaurant, hotels, etc. The souvenirs are crazily costly. So before buying anything from there, make sure what you are exactly doing.





How to Go:

Shombhunath Temple (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) is very easy to access as its inside the valley of Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ) in Nepal (नेपाल). You'll just need to ask a Taxi driver to drop you there. From the tourist area Thamel (ठमेल) it will be around 120 to 200 Nepali rupees taxi fare. Alternately, you can have a walk as well. Its not too far from Thamel (ठमेल). A 15/20 minutes of short walking will lead you towards the temple. GPS coordinate of the temple is (27°42'53.42"N, 85°17'25.48"E).


Best time to visit the Stupa (स्तुप) is before 9:00 am at morning when you'll find only the pilgrims instead of the chaotic tourists.


The 365 stairs begin from here.



Where to stay:

Tourism is one of the main incomes of Nepal in recent days. That's why there are plenty of hotels and resorts all over the country. Here is a list of hotels near Kathmandu for you. It is always better to reserve your room before traveling anywhere.


A beautiful statue of Buddha beside the stair.



Believe me, I was tired even at this stage!



Still long way to go. This is probably the best view of the stairs.



The view of the Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ) valley from the top of the Swayambhunath (स्वयम्भूनाथ).



I do not know what this things. They can rotate around the center and people use to push them so that it can circle on it's center.



A Brass made statue of an animal. May be a Lion!



A small temple is beside the Stupa (स्तुप).



The Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप).



Few small shrines.



A Statue of Dipankar Buddha from 7th century. It is made on a shingle stone.



This small temple resides at the western side of the temple.



View of the western side of the temple.



Statue of standing Buddha on Lotus at the World Peace Pond.



Watch closely the nose under the eyes. It is basically the digit one in Nepali script.



Another Shrine. Not sure how it is functioning.



Are these the statue of the Holy monks?



What does it look like?



View of the Swayambhunath Stupa(स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) from the down at southern side.



Swayambhunath Stupa(स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप),
Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ),
Nepal (नेपाल)
List of hotels near Kathmandu


This article is written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog http://icwow.blogspot.com/



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