The essence of visiting Swayambhunath
It is said that at one time the Kathmandu Valley was a lake in which Swayambhu Hill existed as an island. Residing at the top of this Hill was a natural crystal stupa, Swayambhu, meaning self-manifested or self-sprung. When Buddha visited this place, he affirmed that it was a wish-fulfilling stupa, and whoever is touched by the wind that passes over the stupa receives the seed of liberation from the cycle of existence.
Time passed and a Buddhist monk from China made the crystal stupa accessible to all people by draining the lake. For centuries myriad Buddhist masters from India, Sri Lanka, Tibet and China have since visited the stupa standing impressively in a Buddhist complex with several shines, statues and monasteries sprawled on the grounds. A temple dedicated to Manjusri or Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning, can be found behind the hilltop.
The famous stupa known as Swayambhunath Temple, and more recently referred to as the Monkey Temple with troops of the furry creatures running amok, is over 2500 years old, brims with Buddhist and Hindu iconography and offers a bird’s eye view of the city. An icon in Nepal it features a stark white dome topped with a golden spire. The painted eyes on four sides represent the all-seeing eyes of Buddha that are all-seeing and all-knowing.
This spiritual place of worship is an extraordinary experience with the air a fragrance of sweet incense and butter lamps and exquisite intricate carvings adorning every space. The mystical atmosphere is further heightened by local devotees and pilgrims who make a ritual circumnavigation of the stupa, recite mantras, make offerings, spin the prayer wheels set into its base and make wishes for the benefit of all beings devotedly every morning and evening.
Representing Buddha’s mind, to visit the stupa is said to be the same as meeting Buddha in person. A place offering peace, freedom and joy to the whole world and ultimately helping us to obtain perfect enlightenment.
Other attractions in the area include the gold plated Vajra ‘thunderbolt’ set in the east side of the stupa, the Buddha statue on the west side of Swayambhu, the Sleeping Buddha and the Dewa Dharma Monastery displaying a bronze icon of Buddha and traditional Tibetan paintings.