Swayambhunath is the oldest religious site in Nepal which lies in the northwest part of Kathmandu valley (the capital city of Nepal). It is also known as Buddha’s temple and monkey temple. It is one of the oldest temples listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
So, it carries a long history. It is a holy place where mainly Hinduism and Buddhism followers come for worship. Plenty and varieties of trees and plants are found on a hill; due to that reason, the Tibetan name for the site is Sublime Trees.
It is located at a high altitude where visitors can see the view of Kathmandu valley and around its site. It can easily be accessible by any means of a vehicle. Anyone can hang out by seeing those beautiful heart-touching panoramic views from the top of a hill.
This stupa symbolizes the shrines and monasteries building. It is the holy or sacred place of Hindus and Buddhists. In the 13th century, it was declared the main center of Buddhism because it was made from Buddha’s stupa. In the world, it was known as a monkey temple.
How Monkey Temple existed
In the 17th century, king Pratap Malla (one of the mighty kings of Kathmandu valley) enchanted architecture and added a stairway to get to the stupa. Emperor Ashoka built a temple on the hill, which was destroyed in the 3rd century.
About 2000 years ago, it was developed after draining out all water from Kathmandu valley. Because in the ancient period, Kathmandu valley was covered by a lake. It is said that when the valley was a lake, the lotus grew in the same water.
So, the valley is called Swayambhu, which means self-created. That name came from an eternal self-existent flame over which a stupa was built.
One day Manjushri saw a dream about the lotus which grew in the lake, and after that, he went there for worship every day. Going every day for worship, he had a vision of the beautiful valley in it. So, he cut the gorge at Chovar with his magical sword and freed all the water. After draining out all water, the lotus was transformed into a hill, and the flame became the stupa where the lake was turned into a reasonable settlement for people.
People began to live in the valley, and they started to cultivate fertile soil for livelihood. The stupa consists of a lower base vault representing the entire world of wisdom and compassion. A large pair of eyes are printed on every four sides of the main stupa, which represents the eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions.
According to myths, The entire Kathmandu valley was once filled with water, and there was no human settlement there. A lotus grew out of the water, and that valley was known as Swayambhu. The name came after the self-existing flame over which the stupa was built later on. Manjushree had a dream to make a settlement in this beautiful valley. He cut a gorge at Chovar through which all the water drained out, and Kathmandu valley got built. The lotus turned into the Swambhunath hill and became a stupa.
Swayambhunath is one of the hundreds of sites of a nation that sets Nepal apart from the rest of the world. It has not only religious importance but tourism value as well. We all should work towards protecting and promoting such ancient architecture of the Nation.
Swayambhunath – Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
Swayambhunath temple of Kathmandu valley is often known as the monkey temple, especially among tourists. The reason behind this is the number of monkeys living in that area. The monkeys living in the Swayambhunath temple are supposed to be holy. It is believed that Manjushri, the God of wisdom and learning, was taking care of the hill where Swayambhunath stands.
While taking care of the hill, he was supposed to keep his hair short, but it grew long to a point when he grew head louse. Those lice later turned into these monkeys. However, these days researches show that most of these monkeys living in Swayambhunath are infected with HIV aids, and their one bite can also infect humans.
Further, the name Swayambhunath is known as a monkey temple because we can find many monkeys around the hill. Due to its small area of it, monkeys are found in dense numbers. Some monkeys are seen carrying a baby monkey on their back. And some monkeys are found feeding their baby. Some are busy taking off their baby lice.
Even dogs are barking at monkeys because of their crazy movement. Some monkeys troubles and teases people, but more of them are friendly. Monkeys have a lot of fun than the people who come to visit there. Monkeys are believed to and treated as our ancestors.
These monkeys are regarded as holy because monkeys were made of Manjushri’s head’s lice. People were supposed to put their hair short at that time, but he made it grow long, and head lice eventually grew. It is believed that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.
The monkey temple in Nepal is also a Free Tourist Destination in Nepal.
Pashupatinath – Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
One of the biggest and most famous temples of Nepal is Pashupatinath, situated near the side of the Bagmati river. Here we can find many species of birds and animals with lots of mindblowing architecture and a statue of God and goddess in the Pashupatinath area.
One of the animal monkeys is easily found in every step of people. That’s why Nepalese people don’t panic about seeing monkeys in these areas. It is just a simple thing in the area. Monkeys come every day to eat fruits that people are offering in a temple.
As Nepal is a secular Hinduism country, most people think that the monkey is one of the incarnations of God. So, people feed monkeys various food. Most of the day, people visit this temple for a different purpose. Hundreds of Hindus came here every day to worship.
Every day there is a crowd of people. Likewise, groups of monkeys are also found in every nook of temple areas. We can see the amazing behavior of monkeys if we visit there. Some are playing in a group, Some are resting, and Some are entertaining the people with their crazy movements.
Why should you visit Monkey Temple?
So, What are the similarities between Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath? Why should we visit there, and for what reason? Why is this place also called the land of monkeys? These questions may arise in every visitor’s mind. The answer to this question is that visitors would enjoy sightseeing. They can spend their time seeing the crazy movement of monkeys. And they have a great chance to research monkeys if they are interested.
Visitors could entertain themselves by taking a photo. These places are also famous for monkeys, and monkeys are holy, and it is treated as a god in Nepali tradition and culture. And both are included in the UNESCO world heritage site, which makes it proud of every Nepalese people. April 2015 earthquake damaged the monastery. But it will be reformed soon because it is necessary to conserve for our future generation.
At last, Swayambhu and Pashupatinath temple is the oldest and most famous in other South Asian countries. In both places, monkeys are living for a long past and are also known as monkey places. People can spend their time seeing the funny and eye-catching movements of monkeys. We can see that monkeys are jumping from one place to another or one tree to others. This shows that humans and monkeys have a good relationship.
If we treated well in return, monkeys treated well too. Humans also believe that the monkey is our ancestor. Many research committees inside or outside the country came to research monkeys in various fields.
Being Nepal is a secular Hinduism country, people thought that a monkey was an incarnation of God. People feed monkeys themselves. Thus it is one of the better places to visit for various reasons. If you didn’t come here till now, you must see one time in your life to play with beautiful nature and animals.
Importance of Monkey Temple
Swayambhunath is a perfect example of religious tolerance. You will find the ideal blend of Buddhism and Hinduism simultaneously on the temple premises. There are the stupa and the temple that marks the religious tolerance in Nepal. It is an ancient religious architecture on the top of a hill in the Kathmandu Valley. It stands peacefully on the hill and is one of the oldest architecture in Kathmandu Valley.
Swayambhunath has a special position in the lives of the Newars of Kathmandu valley. And it is also a sacred pilgrimage for Buddhists all over the country. It is second to Boudhha in terms of value in Buddhist people. Swayambhunath consists of a stupa, different monuments, and temples. It is believed to be originated in the Licchavi period. The stupa has Buddha’s eyes marking peace. The temple has a statue of the god Swayambhunath marking Hinduism. This marks the harmony between the two religions.
Swayambhunath is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. The best thing about this site is that although the site is considered a place for Buddhists, the place is valued by both Buddhists and Hindus. It occupies a special position in the heart of numerous Hindu followers.
If you are traveling to Nepal, read Is Nepal safe For a female to travel alone in Nepal?
You can reach the temple through two access points. A long staircase directly leads to the central platform of a temple. You may be out of breath while climbing the stairs but believe me, the experience as soon as you reach the top is magical. You will get a view of the entire Kathmandu valley, and the positive energy you receive from the blend of Hinduism and Buddhism is out of this world. There is another car road through which you can explore the hill as it goes around the hill.
In recent years Swayambhunath temple has gained popularity as a tourist destination. Proper hotels, restaurants, and street shops will allow you to buy souvenirs for your loved ones.