Monkeys Rule at the Swayambhunath Temple

Traveled: April 2014

 

Coming from my early morning visit to Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur, I opted to take the bus to Swayambhunath temple from Lagankhel bus station.  Lagankhel is just about 10 minutes walk from the Patan Durbar Square, where buses going around the Kathmandu valley are parked.  The station is quite chaotic, but the simple solution is to ask around from a local. Nepalese are a bunch of friendly people, in general.

The bus took the Ring Road, crossed the bridge over Bagmati River, and in a few minutes, it was time to get off at the Swayambhu, specifically at the Buddha Park.  The trip from Patan took me 30 minutes.  The bus stop is hard to miss because three large welcoming Buddhas can be seen from the road.

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

I started my journey up the Swayambhunath complex from the Buddha Park, by walking the road uphill from the right side of the Buddha Park.  I was waiting to see stairs that would lead me up to the stupa but after what felt like 5 minutes of ascending on a paved road, I was beginning to doubt if I’m taking the right way, especially that I don’t see anyone else heading towards where I’m heading. Until finally, I saw stairs cutting across the hill in a semi-forested area, a few small vendors and locals also on their way up the hill.

view of Kathmandu valley

Giving myself an excuse to rest from climbing by taking photos of views overlooking the Kathmandu valley

I’m glad I took this route to the hilltop, as it offered me panoramic views of the Kathmandu valley.  I climbed for 20 minutes, I think, while stopping a few times to catch a mouthful of air.  After all, the only warm-up I had was the climb up to my homestay room in the 4th floor.

World Peace Pond, Swayambhunath

The World Peace Pond, before the entrance to the temple complex

I was surprised to realize I’m already at the temple complex, because I did not pass through any ticket booth.  The main attraction is the large white stupa, with the symbolic “all-seeing” Buddha eyes like that in Boudhanath.  The stupa is surrounded by smaller stupas and shrines.

Swayambhunath Temple

Swayambhunath Temple

Swayambhunath Temple

(Note: Sadly, the Anantapur shrine, the white tower on the right, was destroyed during the April 2015 earthquake)

Swayambhunath Temple

Swayambhunath Temple

Swayambhunath temple is also known as the Monkey Temple because of the presence of naughty tailed creatures, called…monkeys, no less.  I didn’t dare stand too long in front of them for fear of them grabbing my cherished companion hanging around my neck (my camera).

monkeys at the Swayambhunath Temple

Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple

Monkey, monkey, Annabel, how many monkeys did you see? And a rikitikitik in a blue black sheep.  Is-pell yes, Y-E-S.  Is-pell no, N-O. A-lis!  Okay, I’ve just revealed my age by reciting these lines.  If you’re a Filipino and you know this game, then you’re in my not-so-old generation.

Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple

Watch your banana, the monkeys might steal them.

Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple

Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple

Colors everywhere

overlooking Kathmandu valley

From the hilltop, you can also enjoy the view of the Kathmandu valley…Can you spot the monkey? 🙂

As to be expected in any major tourist site, souvenir vendors abound in the area.
souvenirs at Swayambhunath Temple or Monkey Temple

souvenirs at Swayambhunath Temple or Monkey Temple Trinkets overload! 

souvenirs at Swayambhunath Temple or Monkey Temple

souvenirs at Swayambhunath Temple or Monkey Temple

souvenirs at Swayambhunath Temple or Monkey Temple

I stayed for more than an hour in this UNESCO World Heritage site just going around and people-watching, while quietly in fascination of the unfamiliar.  I know not much about Buddhism and Hinduism but I think that this place represents the fusion of these two cultures, as I saw Hindus (I assumed they are Hindus because they have red tikka dots on their forehead) also paying reverence in the temple.
365 step staris at Swayambhunath Temple or Monkey TempleAs Sarita, my homestay’s host, suggested, I exited the temple via the 365-step stone stairway, the end of which will be my take-off point to my next destination: Kathmandu Durbar Square.

The strong earthquake that shook and caused grief and damage in Kathmandu happened a year after I traveled to Nepal. Hence, this and my other upcoming posts about Nepal are pre-2015 earthquake time. Let us continue praying for Nepal’s recovery.

One thought on “Monkeys Rule at the Swayambhunath Temple

  1. Pingback: Inside the Historic Kathmandu Durbar Square - Finding Jing

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