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Swayambhunath

The Most Enigmatic Holy Shrine

SwayambhunathThe Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath, situated on the top of a hill, west of Kathmandu, is one of the most popular, holy and instantly recognizable symbols of Nepal. The temple is colloquially known as the 'monkey temple' because of the large tribe of roving monkeys who guard the temple.

Fast Facts
Location Kathmandu Valley
Era Before 5th century
Unique Feature 365 steps lead to the Temple that is believed to be 'Self-Created' or 'Self-Existence'
Category Wold Heritage Site

Major Attractions
The Stupa
Swayambhunath Stupa is a golden spire crowning a conical wooded hill. It is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu Valley. It has a lofty white dome and a glittering golden spire that are visible from all sides of the valley. Historical records found on a stone inscription give evidence that the stupa was already an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination by the 5th century A.D. i.e. before the coming of Buddhism in the valley.

Area Surrounding The Stupa
The surroundings of Swyambhunarayan Stupa consists of chaityas, temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects.

Harati Temple
The temple is dedicated to the goddess of smallpox and other epidemics. The presence of the Harati Devi temple signifies the intermingling of the pantheons of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal.

Palace Of Peace
Atop Syambunath hill is another fascinating, though less visited temple, Shantipur, popularly known as the 'Palace of Peace'. It is said that inside the secret underground chamber of the temple lives the 8th century Tantric master, Shantikar Acharya. The master, it is believed, has lived through centuries and has full control on the weather and the King of Kathmandu must go to him in times of drought.

Architecture
Amazing to look at, the architectural beauty of Swayambunath Temple gives way to the feelings of reverence and adoration. The stupa consists of a dome at the base and a cubical structure with eyes of Buddha looking in all the four directions. There are pentagonal Toran present above each of the four sides with statues engraved in them. Behind and above the torana there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers, there is a small space above which the Gajur is present.

Mythology
SwayambhunathAccording to Swayambhu Puran, the entire Kathmandu valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a mystical Lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning 'Self-Created' or 'Self-Existent'. The Bodhistava Manjushri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it.

In order to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjushri cut a gorge through the mountains surrounding the valley. 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 become the Swayambhunath stupa.

Symbology
The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person gets free (represented by eyes of mercy and self knowledge) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state a bit higher. After that, the person has to cross thirteen stages represented by the tiers before attaining Nirvana (salvation).

How To Reach
There are two ways to reach the top of the monkey temple: the first and the most common is to get there with a car but the most beautiful way to reach the top of this amazing temple is to climb the 365 stairs of the temple.
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