The Sacred Monkey Temple, Kathmandu
The Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is popularly known worldwide as the “Monkey Temple”. It is a very old sacred stupa located on top of a hill in the West of Kathmandu. It is the home to many harmless and holy monkeys and hence derived its name of being the “Monkey temple”. It is known as the “Shing.kun” in Tibetan because of the assortment of various trees on the hills.
The temple is of lot of historical and mythological significance. According to the Puranas, once the whole valley was filled with a huge lake. A lotus grew out of it on its own and since then the valley got the name “Swayambhu” or “self-created”. Historically, it is one of the oldest sacred places in Nepal. It was built in the 5th century CE by King Mandeva’s great grandfather.
Even though the spot is a Buddhist stupa, yet it is equally popular with the Hindu pilgrims as well. It has been revered by several Hindu kings in the past. The complex has a stupa, and a lot of temples and shrines. Later on a museum, a library and a Tibetan monastery has also been included in the site. There are also a number of restaurants, hostels and shops for the convenience of the visitors.
An elongated stairway of 365 steps leads to the temple. A huge pair of eyes adorns all the four side of the stupa. This symbolizes the omnipresence of the all mighty. A third eye signifies the wisdom of looking inside ones soul. In place of the nose is a Nepali one, which is suggestive of the Buddhist path as the only way to enlightenment.
The best time to visit this place in during autumn or spring. The temple opens from 9.00am onwards. In order to witness the Nepali form of worship, Saturday is the best place to go. Buddha Jayanti and Loser are the two main festival celebrated here. To mark the end of the monsoon, Gunla is celebrated.