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Swyambhunath Stupa

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Swayambhunath is one of the holiest Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal. Swayambhu literally means “self-existent one”. According to translations from an inscription dating back to 460 A.D., it was built by King Manadeva and by the 13th century, Swayambhunath had developed into an important center of Buddhism.


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Swayambhunath is one of the holiest Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal. It is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than 2,000 years ago. This stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises. 

Swayambhu literally means “self-existent one”. According to translations from an inscription dating back to 460 A.D., it was built by King Manadeva and by the 13th century, Swayambhunath had developed into an important center of Buddhism.

The stupa sits atop the hill and the exceedingly steep stone steps leading up to the shrine is quite a challenge. However, there is also a road going up almost to the top and you can drive up. A large number of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit Swayambhunath through out the day. Swayambhu is perhaps the best place to observe religious harmony in Nepal.

 Mobbed by monkeys and soaring above the city on a lofty hilltop, the ‘Monkey Temple’ is a fascinating jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography. It is also reknown as “Monkey Temple”.

Legend has it that Swayambhu was born out of a lotus flower that bloomed in the middle of a lake that once spread across the Kathmandu Valley once was. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal sits on a pedestal on the western boundary of Swayambhu. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri or Saraswati – the Goddess of learning. Chaityas, statues and shrines of Buddhist and Hindu deities fill the stupa complex. The base of the hill is almost entirely surrounded by prayer wheels that were recently installed. Devotees can be seen circumambulating the stupa at all times.

The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the fashion of a nose. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long staircase leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the south-west entrance. The first sight on reaching the top of the stairway is the Vajra.

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