Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)

When this temple was founded about 2000 years ago, Kathmandu valley was filled with a great lake. According to Buddhist legend, a single perfect lotus grew in the center of the lake. When the bodhisattva Manjusri drained the lake with a slash of his swored. The lotus flower settled on top of the hill and magically transformed into the stupa. Thus it is known as the self-created (swayambhu) stupa.

The earliest written record of the swayambhunath stupa’s existence is a 5th century stone inscription, but scholars belive there was probably a shrine here as early as the 1st centurry. Even before that, it is likely that animist rites took place on this hill. swayambhunath is one of Nepal’s oldest Buddhist temples and it has an ancient atmosphere especially when one approaches on foot with the pilgrims.

The two main festivals celebrated at swayambhunath are Buddha Jayanti ( in Apri or May) and losar ( in February or March). During these times, many pilgrims visit the temple and the monks create a lotus pattern on the stupa with saffron-colored point. Also important is the month-long Gunla celebration ( Auguet or september) marking the end of the rainy season.