Swayambhu Mahachaitya or Swayambhu is the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site.
Swayambhu is a self-sprung, ancient religious complex atop a hill within walking distance of 3.5 km to the west of Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal. The temple complex has different names recognized to it including Swayambhunath, Svayambhu, Swoyambhunath, Swayambhu (स्वयम्भू/स्वयंभू in the Nepali Language) and Swayambhu Maha Chaitya. Swayambhu is the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site among Buddhists and followers of Tibetan Buddhism while Hindus call this sacred destination as Swayambhunath. Due to the large number of monkeys living there over the ages, Swayambhunaath Mahachaitya is also named "Monkey Temple".
The Swayambhunaath is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Nepal
The Swayambhunaath temple complex includes a magnificent domed stupa and other temples and shrines, some of which date back to the Licchavi era. A Tibetan monastery, museum, and library have recently been added to the site. Buddha's eyes, brows, and nose are painted on the major attraction stupa. The body part of the stupa is painted lightly with saffron, saffron is considered auspicious in both Hindu and Buddhist culture. Although each temple is incredibly magnificent and lavishly decked with gold and vivid prayer flags, it's not just the religious architecture that attracts tourists. Additionally, there are some stores and restaurants.
The main entrance to the swayambhu complex has a lengthy stone staircase from the road that leads directly to the swayambhu stupa. The first thing you see as you get to the top of the stairs is an enormous lightning bolt.
There is another way to reach the swayambhu stupa from the south, a motor road that leads to the southwest entrance. The first thing you see as you get to the second way is a world peace pond.
History of Swayambhunaath Mahachaitya
According to ancient scriptures Swayambhu Purana, the entire Kathmandu valley was once submerged with water, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning "Self-Created". The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame over which a stupa was later built.
Manjusri had a vision of the Lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley could be a reasonable settlement, and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, he cut a gorge at Chovar. 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 became the stupa.
Why Swayambhunaath Mahachaitya/stupa is called Monkey Temple?
This sacred Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage site is also home to hundreds of monkeys living in the northwest parts of the stupa. These monkeys are holy because Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning, raised the hill on which the stupa stands. He was supposed to leave his hair short, but he made it grow long and head lice grew. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys. And now this Swayambhunaath Mahachaitya is nicknamed "Monkey Temple".
Visitors can view a panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley from the top of the hill, Swayambhu, in addition to fascinating monkeys swinging from trees and prayer flags covering the vivid temple. It's worth stepping up 365 stone steps to reach the Swayambhunath temple complex.
Note: The complex Will be closed after 8 PM.