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Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhunath Stupa (5th century) is a UNESCO World Heritage (1979 AD) on a forested hill (0.6 sq km) viewpoint called Monkey Temple, 3 km west of Kathmandu city centre. Swayambhu describes self-existent from the Lotus-root of Serpent Lake as Buddha's avatar in the valley. The single-plinth stupa has beautiful architecture with a sanctum, dome, Harmika, Buddha eyes, 13 spares, and a pinnacle. Five Dhyani Buddhas (Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi, Akshyovya, Vairochana) unite their partners (Mamaki, Pandara, Green Tara, Locana, White Tara). Buddha's eyes (wisdom and passion) watch in all four directions.

The Golden Swayambhu Maha Chaitya (20 kg gold in 2011) offers exceptional views of Kathmandu, Langtang (7245 m), Ganesh Himal (7429 m), and Dorje Lakpa (6988 m). The east 365 steps, one for each day in the year, suggest a 15-minute climb. The road reaches the west gate with a ticket counter, car parking and bathroom. Swayambhunath Temple entrance is 200 Rupees (foreigners) and 50 Rupees (SAARC). Daily, countless tourists visit the landmarks of Kathmandu, with a museum, restaurant, souvenir shop, monastery, Vasubandhu Chaitya (5th century), world-peace pond, Manjushree temple, monkey swimming pool, prayer wheels and flags.

Pilgrims turn prayer wheels and chant invocation. Lotus pattern saffron colour paints the stupa. Fifth-century 5-temples in  4-directions are Shantipur (sky element), Agnipur (fire), Basupur (earth), Bayupur (wind), and Nagpur (water element). The east white Shikhara-style temples Pratappur and Anantapur (1646), the golden Bajra Dhatu Mandala and 12 different animals specify the Tibetan calendar.

Agama Chen is in the south with eight good-luck symbols. The 17th-century pagoda-style Harati Temple (Sitala Devi) is to the northwest. Goddess Harati once was an ogress Buddha converted later her into a child protector. Hindus and Buddhists worship Sitala Devi. The temple owns exquisite bronze art, statues, golden roofs, metal banners, prayer wheels, bells, and pinnacles.

The north Karmraja Mahabihar (1954) - Kagyupa-sect temple has a golden statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, photos of Dalai Lama (14th incarnate) and Karmapa (17th incarnate). There is a Lichhavi Chitya (7th century), Dipankar Buddha (7th century), Devadharma Mahavihara (Kagyupa-sect), Jyotikirti Mahavihar, Peacock and Bell, Pawan Bhairava, Gyanmala Bhajana Khala, Abhayamudra (7th century), Green Tara, White Tara (18th century), and Mangal Bahudwar (Tashi Gomang Stupa). 

Manjushree Temple on the western hill is the creator of Kathmandu Valley, Goddess of Learning, which celebrates the annual festival in February. The Natural History Museum is nearby, and the Buddhist crematory is 200 meters northwest of the Bhagawan Pau. The Swayambhu forest (0. 6 sq km) has 27 flowering plants, 64 species of birds, six types of mammals, 300 Rhesus macaques and 109 vascular plants. Devotees celebrate Buddha Jayanti (April-May), Gunla, the holy month of Buddhism (Aug-Sept), Losar (Jan-Feb), Kojagrata Poornima (Sep-Oct) and Samyak, the day of the Magh (once in every 12 years held in Jan-Feb). The Buddha Amideva Park with huge Avalokiteshwar, Amitaba, and Padmasambhava statues is near the ring road, 13 minutes walking from the Swayambhunath Temple. The thirteen steps of the Buddhist Stupa symbolise 13 levels of perfection.

1. Ratnaparamita - Jewel

2. Dana paramita - Giving

3. Shilaparamita - Morality/Righteousness 

4. Ksantiparamita - Forbearance/Tolerance 

5. Viryaparamita - Vigour/Energy 

6. Dhyanaparamita - Meditation

7. Prajnaparamita - Wisdom/Intelligence

8. Upayaparamita - Skill in means

9. Pranidhiparamita - Aspiration/Ambition

10. Balaparamita - Strength

11. Vajraparamita - Diamond and action

12. Gyanaparamita - Knowledge

13. Nirvana - Liberation