Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal. Where Gumbo Was #55

 Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Congratulations to MAD Travel Diaries for recognizing the Swayambunath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal!  It's also known as the "Monkey Temple" because of the large number of (mean spirited) monkeys that have all but taken over this complex (and are said to be "holy monkeys").

 

Swayambhunath At Night. Courtesy Wikimedia, Jean-Marie Hullot

Kathmandu viewed from the Swayambunath Stupa. Courtesy Wikimedia, Ester Inbar

 

Swayambhunath is an ancient complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley.  Most approach it via a long uphill climb of 365 steps (one for each day of the year), past thousands of Buddhist prayer flags that set the atmosphere for the complex ahead.  Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims ascend these steps and begin a clockwise walk around the stupa at the center of this ancient site.  

 

Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal.

 

The Swayambhunath complex dates to at least the 5th century AD (some say a temple build in the 3rd century preceded it) and consists of a huge Buddhist stupa and an assortment of shrines and temple.  There are statues of Buddha and prayer wheels in the complex, and a small commercial village adjoins the temple and offers shops, restaurants and hostels. 

 

Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal.

 

The large stupa has a base with a rounded dome (which has many ancient artifacts in it)  and a cubical structure above which has Buddha's eyes and eyebrows painted on all sides. Between the eyes, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the style of a nose.  I believe all aspects of the complex are symbolic but I don't understand these well enough to write about them with any authority.  

 

Although the site is primarily Buddhist, the place is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. Numerous Hindu monarchs have paid homage to the temple.   It was a fascinating place to see and certainly is a recommended destination.

 

Tomorrow a new travel puzzle...

 

Prayer Wheels at Swayambunath Stupa. Courtesy Wikimedia, Peter Akkermans

Vairochana Buddha, Swayambunath Stupa. Courtesy Wikimedia, Kamal Ratna Tuladhar

 

Prayer flags, Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal.Prayer flags, Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Steps leading to Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu

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"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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