Most of the trees around the complex are surrounded by these prayer flags. For years Tibetans have planted flags outside their homes, temples and other spiritual places, the wind carry the beneficent vibrations and spread it all over. Prayer flags bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter, family and friends.
Behind the main stupa there´s an area with some excellent crafts shops with masks, Tibetan paintings and wood carvings- I´m not shure if the prices were better than in Thamel ( there were less tourists) but for me it was a good place to buy handicrafts. There are also a couple of small cafes to relax and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the temple.
In 1973, the Kathmandu valley and seven of their landmarks were declared World Heritage Site by the Unesco. The seven include the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhunath and Bouddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan.
This temple offers a good example of sincretism, the two major Nepalese religions (Buddhism and Hinduism) are practiced here hand in hand. There are temples for Buddha and Hinduist deities, and most of the pilgrims visit and make offerings to both of them.
After visiting the Harati temple and behind it, there´s a huge platform with several small shrines and statues of Buddha and other deities. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, watching the pilgrims walking the clockwise circle of the stupa, and hearing Tibetan meditation chants coming out from one of the crafts shop.
The Vajra or Dorje (in Tibetan) is a ritual Buddhist object that represents a thunderbolt and spiritual power. After climbing the stairs and passing the Vajra, pilgrims begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa (Newari Buddhists cirle counterclockwise direction).
These two Indian Shikhar style temples are flanking the gilded Vajra or Dorje, is the first sight of the complex after climbing the eastern staircase. The temples were built by King Pratap Malla and date from 1646.
These lamps filled with butter, are one of the main offerings in most of the Buddhist temples, the lights of the lamps symbolized the wisdom of the awakening mind. Near the main Stupa is located a Path (Pilgrim shelter) with a Kargyud-school gompa in the second floor where the ritual of the lamps is celebrated.
The center of the complex is this huge white-washed stupa, surrounded by other buddhist and hinduist temples. Above the stupa a square block depicting the golden eyes of Buddha, the ek (number one) the symbol that resembles a question mark and the tird eye of Buddha.
The temple is known by the tourists as the Monkey Temple due to the large amount of Rhesus Macaque monkeys that wander and live in the forest near the temple. The monkeys are very friendly and used to the human crowds that visit the complex; there are also vendors of seeds to feed the animals.
The Main Eastern Gate is colorful painted, and are flanked by three Buddha statues from the 17th century. The place is a meeting point for vendors, beggars, saddhus, pilgrims and tourists. There are 365 old stairs to the temple, a nice climb through the forest with lots of monkeys playing around the old shrines and stones written with the universal mantra Om mani padme hum (Hail to the jewel in the lotus).
Near the gate of the eastern entrance of the temple, there is a small shrine that contains a huge Tibetan Prayer Wheel used by the pilgrims to send prayers to heaven while saying the mantras. There are also a row of small wheels around to began your spiritual preparation for the climb.
The panoramic views over the Kathmandy valley are best from early to late afternoons, otherwise contre jour. Try to arrive a little before 4 pm, to witness the religious service which takes place at the gompa school – a great deal of exotic crashing, chanting and trumpeting.
While views at dusk maybe cloudy, the Kathmandu by night views were somewhat dissapointing to the extent that....there is a controlled curfew.
Wait until after sunset, for the majority of tourists to leave and for the shops to close, and you’ll amuse yourself with the monkeys who, with fewer people around, suddenly become more active and start playing, quarrelling and rushing all around, as if all the temples were theirs.
I visited during winter time, so it got quite cold and windy, both for me and for the little monkeys, tired after too much fooling around.
The Swayambhunath a.k.a. the Moneky Temple, could be named as the “symbol” of Nepal, indeed, everyone looking at the wellknown “third eye Buddha”, would immediately think about Nepal.
The Monkey Temple is located on the top of a small hill and the views of the landscape that can be admired are simply amazing.
There are two ways to reach the top of the Monkey temple: the first one (and the most common) is to get there with the car or whatever else tranportation you took; but the most beautifull way to reach the top of this amazing temple is to take his stairs.
Take care once you decide to take the stairs as are really very deep, and is not so strange to see people falling down...
This temple is in one word amazing. The athmosphere, the rithm, the holy music, the architecture...all those things makes this place a very impressive one!
As usual, once a place is very famous, and gets into the toursitic circuit, would be definitely fullfilled of guides, stuffs seller and so on.
Indeed, also here in the monkey temple (moreover in the main entrance >>not the stairs way!!), you will find a lot of small street seller, a lot of woman with cry’ kids that will try to sell you something or will ask you to take some pics in order to get some tip.
Once you get in the temple, take the right side and get to the top, following the third eye Buddha. The views from the top, as said, are simply amazing.
The landscpae that will be opened to your eyes will be a moltitude of small stupas, little gompas, little sanctuaries and (lol!) some shops...
Beside the shops, the athmosphere is just great, with a lot of monks and people praying following their rituals.
The entry fee for this great temple is only 50 nepali Rupees.