This temple, a large stupa, is highly revered in Nepal, and one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country. It offers great views over the city, and has plenty monkeys. I took a taxi from Thamel, 250Rs (December 2008) and payed Rs 100 to enter.
It is quite a climb (steps) to get to the stupa. But, you will be rewarded with not just a visit to the stupa, but also great views of Kathmandu.
The main gate of the stupa leads to the steep stairs, this is indeed a traditional ancient pilgrim route. It's really wonderful to climb up the worn stone steps (365), that leads straight up to the top, where Swayambhunath's painted eyes peer down at you.
It was very hazy and overcast the day I visited, but I'm sure the views from here will be amazing on a clear day.
Swayambhunath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in the area of Kathmandu. It sits on a hill in the west of Kathmandu overlooking the city.
It is thought to have been built in the 5th century AD.
The meaning of the stupa is thus:
The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (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.
Each morning before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims will ascend the 365 steps that lead up the hill, file past the gilded Vajra and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa.
On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes. These eyes are symbolic of God's all-seeing perspective. There is no nose between the eyes but rather a representation of the number one in the Nepali alphabet, signifying that the single way to enlightenment is through the Buddhist path. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye, signifying the wisdom of looking within. No ears are shown because it is said the Buddha is not interested in hearing prayers in praise of him.
There are fantastic views across the Kathmandu valley. Its called the Monkey Temple because of the monkeys that roam wild there.
Be warned there are also a lot of beggars at this temple.
Swayambhunath, Known also as “The Monkey Temple” is a Must when visiting Kathmandu.
A Pleasant ¾ hour walk from Thamel or 70 NPR / $1 / 50p in a taxi or rickshaw.
There are a steep set of steps to climb up to the Temple and 1 100 NPR entrance fee, However IF you choose to avoid this Entry Fee get the taxi / rickshaw to drop you at the rear steps, There is No Toll Booth at the top of these !!
Local craftsmen do slate carvings and sell these on the steps for a few rupees, they make an inexpensive and unusual souvenir.
On a clear day the views over the Kathmandu valley are wonderful !!
Don’t miss this temple !!
Once you have reached the top of the steps you will be rewarded with all the small temples and the views from Swayambhunath,
There are lots of souvenir shops but it’s mainly tat, you can buy snacks and drinks too.
But the main thing is Not to forget your camera,
On of the most known landmarks of Nepal, the Swayambhunath temple complex is not to be missed: temples full of Buddhist symbols, responding even to the western imaginary on exotic hidden temples surrounded by vegetation and monkeys. Besides, an afternoon visit will be rewarded by panoramic views over the Valley and a religious ceremony at the Buddhist monastery (aka gompa).
According to Nepalese mythology, while the entire Kathmandu valley was once with an enormous lake, a lotus flower grew on this singular hill who rising above the waters. 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. Hence, the place is called Swayambhu, meaning the “Self-Created”.
Although often referred to by the foreigners as the Monkey Temple, this given name does not mean that the temple is dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey-god. This is the result of the many monkeys taking refuge around the complex and in its surrounding park.
More information and pictures on my Swayambhunath page.
The Swayambhunath Stupa is suposed to be the oldest stupa of Nepal and welcomes pilgrims of Hindu belief as well as of Bhuddist belief. Situated on a hill on the outskirts of Kathmandu, gives the best opportunity to enjoy the panorama over the complete city. So it is certainly worth to clim the steep and exhausting long steps all the way up - dont miss it!
BUT be aware of the monkey "gangs". They take what they can get :-)
Swayambhunath Temple is one of the most recognisble sights around Kathmandu and is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. The stairs up are quite long and steep (a good way to prepare for your trek) but it is all well worth it. Also watch out for the monkeys (which is how this place got its affectionate name.)
This is the Buddhist Temple on the hill in Katmandu. There are a lot of other tips on this.
I would add that I highly recommend you go early in the morning. This is when there are less tourists. The views of the Himalayaas at dawn, cloud permitting, are outstanding. The ambiance of the place is humbling.
The Swayambhunath stupa is one of the oldest in the world (VI centrury BC), decorated on all sides with the Buddha eyes.
Originally Swayambhunath was destined to gather the Buddha remains. Swayambhunath is one of the seven world heritage sites all over the Kathmandu valley.
one of unesco's world heritage site, the swayambunath buddhist temple is a breathtaking stupa sitting on top of the hill.. while it's not too far away from the rush of kathmandu city though there is a sense of peacefulness prevailling over the place.. any time, any day, the temple will be bustling with activities.. pilgrims walking around muttering the mantra om mani padme hum.. visitors turning the copper prayer wheels in clockwise direction.. colourful prayer flags waving high from the top of the stupa.. this is definitely a place that will leave everyone awestrucked..
situated at the top of the stairs at the swayambhunath temple, sits a huge varja which represents the thunderbolt, a symbol of the power of buddha.. this is a magnificent piece that is as important as the stupa itself..
The Sacred stupa of Swayambhunath is located on hill which is said to be the cradle of the Kathmandu valley. According to the legend, the valley was a lake in former times when the god Swayambhu appeared on the lake in the form of a lotus. A holy man from Tibet who wanted to get closer to the god split the hills with his magic sword and the water disapeared, leaving the lotus on top of a hill in the now dry valley.
Swayambunath sits atop a hill covered with two things: inanimate statues and hundreds of highly animated monkeys. You climb a long stone staircase, passing statue after statue of sitting Buddhas, generally about 15-20 feet high, painted in startling yellow, red, and blue. Once past these massive Buddhas, there are still more statues--of elephants, peacocks, horses, garudas (man-birds), and lions, arranged in pairs.
Swayambunath is said to be the oldest Tibetan Buddhist shrine in the world. Though the present shrine dates from the late fourteenth century, it has been a religious site for at least a thousand years. It sits, like a crown, atop a hill several miles west of the city proper in Katmandu Valley. In the morning and again in the early evening, Buddhist pilgrims gather to walk clockwise around its base. Hindu pilgrims join them because the grounds of the stupa contain a number of temples and other shrines sacred to Hindus. Sitting atop the stupa's rounded base is a square golden-brown block perhaps ten feet square and as many high, each face decorated with Buddha's all-seeing eyes. On top of that is a fifty-foot high pointed cone of thirteen equally spaced bronze rings, topped with a highly decorated crown or parasol. And from the peak of the crown run a few dozen strings of prayer flags. Like the prayer wheels, these colored flags are printed with prayers which flutter their way heavenward with the wind.
Wow...little did I know it would take me almost a half hour just to climb close to 400 steps to get to the top of this famous temple.
We started out from the Thamel district - on foot. The walk is easy enough and makes for interesting sight-seeing along the way. It's the climb up the stairs that throws you for a loop - but the reward is a fantastic view of Kathmandu city and the surrounding valley. Once you've reached the top, you find yourself surrounded by small temple-like structures and a reverent, peaceful ambience.
The stupa itself dates back as early as the fifth century, and is based on the legend (and scientific theory) that the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake - with the hill upon which the Swayambunath Temple sits, an island in the middle of this lake. The stairway leading up to this magnificent stupa was constructed under one of the Malla kings in the 1600's.
Swayambounath is also known as "Monkey Temple", for the ubiquitous residents (the monkeys). It's when you reach the top of this place that you finally shake yourself and say, "I'm really here....I really made it to Nepal." It's an extraordinary feeling.
Swayambhunath, otherwise known as the monkey temple, is located on the top of a little hill overlooking Kathmandu and the Kathmandu valley. The stupa at the top of the hill is extremely impressive (the famous Buddha's eyes are located on this stupa). To get up to the stupa you must walk 300 steps. The bottom part, with the steps, is covered with Buddha image statues, Tibetan Mani stones, and monkeys (that's how it got its nickname: the monkey temple). There are a bunch of monks around, and it is an interesting place to check out. At the top there is a temple complex (which was almost completely destroyed the day after I visited it by a fire August 2003, I don't know if that building is open yet). There is also a small artifact museum at the top. Feel free to spin the prayer wheels at the base of the stupa, just remember to go clockwise.
Note that there is an entrance fee at the top of the steps of 40 N.Rs.