Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath is a Buddhist stupa atop a hillock at the north western part of the Kathmandu city at an altitude of 1,450 m. This is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. The Swayambhunath has a huge stupa, number of shrines and temples dating back to the Licchavi period in around 5th century. Tibetan monastery, museum, library are of new addition. Though Swayambhunath is a Buddhist site, it is visited by both Buddhists and Hindu. The stupa consists of a dome at the base; above the dome, there is a cubic structure with the eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions. Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’, for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. Swayambhunath occupies a central position in Nepali Buddhist community. Swayambhunath is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudhanath.

One gets to have a magnificent clear view of entire valley from top of Swayambhunath where you reach from a stairway with 365 steps representing 365 days of a year. The Swayambhunath Stupa has a dome at the base representing the entire world. There is large of eye in all four side of stupa which symbolizes Buddha looking in 4 directions. Third eye is above each pair of eye. When Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which acts as message to heavenly beings.

Every morning before dawn hundreds if not thousands of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims ascend the 365 steps from eastern side that lead up to the hill, passing the gilded Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the holy stupa.

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