An afternoon around Swayambhunath

Yesterday there was another earthquake in Nepal (7.3 on the Moment Magnitude Scale). When i saw the headlines, I burst in tears.

I cannot comprehend what has happened and why it is happening again.

So, I want to show you the Kathmandu I saw before all of this happened. The beautiful people I met and places I visited. I am sure those people need our help. To rebuild will take years and an incredible amount of money. Money that Nepal and its people don’t have.

I spent 5 full days exploring and shooting around Kathmandu during the workshop with Maciej Dakowicz. It was a first time visit to Nepal for all of us. I loved the idea of scouting Kathmandu and then returning with Husband for trekking. I had a list of places I wanted to go back to and spend more time during my three free days after the workshop. Today I want to introduce you to Swayambhunath, the place where in the first few minutes I felt that this was the Nepal I had expected/imagined for long time before visiting.

We spent our first afternoon around Swayambhunath known as Monkey Temple. It is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal and dates back to the 5th century. It lies on the hill overlooking Kathmandu Valley.

We climbed the hill in hot temperatures and were rewarded with a great view of the valley and the smell of burning incense and butter lamps.

There were lots of Buddhists and Hindu devotees climbing to the top. Many young people socialise there, spending their time watching others (and it its a great place for people watching). There are entire families spending their afternoon there. Some people have their fortune read. Saw several very fit men running up and down the 365 steps. Local people go up there every day to pay homage. On top of the hill there is impressive Swayambhunath Stupa and many smaller religious structures and temples. Monkeys are everywhere. Jumping up and down the stupa and buildings and playing around with prayer flags.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-6Climbing up.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-4

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-5Socialising on the way to the top of the hill.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-25The Stupa of Swayambhunat in full glory and afternoon sun. Beautifully decorated with gold and prayer flags.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-7Monkeys are in charge around there. They go wherever they fancy. It is basically their playground.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-8Buildings on one side of stupa. Apart from many shrines and temples there are several shops selling souvenirs and religious artifacts.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-3

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-10Devotees turn the prayer wheels to bring good fortune.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-26Eye’s of Buddha known as Wisdom Eyes. Looking out from four sides of the tower of the top of the stupa. They symbolise the omniscience (all-seeing ability) of the Buddha) . Iconic of Nepal.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-13This monk spent the entire afternoon around the Stupa.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-14

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-21Panorama of Kathmandu valley.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-23Prayer flags hang everywhere around the top of the hill. Between and on the many trees, buildings and above the staircase.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-19

Swayambhunath - Monkey TempleOne of the devotees praying.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-22

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-20Prayer wheels surround the stupa. Devotees walk around (always clockwise) and set the wheels in motion. Buddhists were chanting the mantra: ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’  (Hail to the jewel in the lotus).

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-24Monkeys playing with prayer flags on the top of Swayambhunath Stupa. Monkeys are actually considered holy in Nepal.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-30Lovely couple.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-29Admiring the view of Kathmandu Valley.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-27

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-11Puppy basking in the afternoon sun.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-28This lovely girl was selling butter candles.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-12Reflection of the Buddha’s Eyes in an old mirror.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-16Smile of the day.

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-9There are shops and vendors selling souvenirs, music cd’s, singing bowls, paintings and jewellery all around the temple. 

Swayambhunath - Monkey Temple-17Looking down the Eastern Staircase.

Swayambhunath is open to visitors again. Most of the Monkey Temple stood strong during the quakes and sustained only minimal damage.

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