Swayambhunath Travel Guide

  • Swayambhunath
    by euzkadi
  • Swayambhunath
    by illumina
  • Things to Do
    by euzkadi

Swayambhunath Things to Do

  • Tibetan Prayer Flags.

    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.

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  • Crafts shops.

    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.

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  • World Heritage Site.

    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.

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  • Buddhism and Hinduism togheter.

    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.

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  • View from the back of the Main Stupa.

    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.

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  • Harati Temple.

    This multi-roofed temple belongs to the Goddess Harumati, and is specially devoted by parents looking for the protection of their chidren from diseases.

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  • Gilded Vajra.

    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).

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  • Shikhar style Temples.

    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.

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  • Butter Lamps.

    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.

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  • Main Stupa.

    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.

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  • Monkeys.

    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.

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  • Eastern Gate. Buddha Statues.

    After crossing the Main Eastern gate there are three statues of Buddha, they look new because are painted in bright colors, but the statues date back to the 17th century.

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  • Eastern Gate entrance.

    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...

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  • Tibetan Prayer Wheel.

    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.

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  • When to go

    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...

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Swayambhunath Transportation

  • getting there & away

    I arrived in Swayambhunath directly from Bodhnath stupa on the other side of Kathmandu, on a cab that was 220 rupees after a little bargaining. It was rush hour however, and it took 40 minutes to negotiate our way through the hectic traffic.Do not try to get a rickshaw from Kathmandu to Swayambhunath, as most of the journey is uphill and you’ll...

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  • The holy Sofa nr. 20

    To reach the monkey Temple there are some possibilities to choose from: the easiest is to take a taxi, that will cost you around 80 nepali rupees.The most cool one is to take the wellknown “Sofa” nr. 20 that leaves Thamel and take you to the stairs entrance. It would cost you only 7 rupees!

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Swayambhunath Warnings and Dangers

  • schlumpf's Profile Photo

    by schlumpf Written Feb 24, 2005

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

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Swayambhunath Favorites

  • Symbols of the buddhist philosophy

    The stupas are tipically Buddhist. From simple domed burial mounds, “build to hold relics of Buddha”, stupas they evolved over the centuries to become complex structures that represent Buddhist philosophy. The five elements characteristic to the Buddhist universe are represented in the stupa structure – the base symbolises the earth, the dome -...

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  • Symbols - the thunderbolt

    The thunderbolt (dorje) symbolises the male force or compassion, and the bell symbolises the female wisdom. Around the pedestal supporting the mighty thunderbolt are the animals of the Tibetan calendar.

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  • Symbols - the vechicles of Buddha

    The pairs of animals on each side of the steps as you climb towards the temples –lions, elephants, horses and peacocks are the vehicles of Dhyani Buddha.

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