Prior to your visit to the remarkable holy Buddhism stupa, located about 3km east of the main tourist area Thamel, you need to get past two barriers: first of all, the pronunciation of ‘Swayambhunath’ and second, the 365 stairs up to the main stupa on top of the hill. But it’s worth the effort: hundreds of peaceful monkeys will accord a hearty welcome and a stunning view of the Kathmandu Valley with the surrounding mountains will provide your Lomo with breathtaking pictures.
The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the main and most interesting sights in Kathmandu and by the way, one of the oldest Buddhism temples in the world. Its most striking feature are the sleepy all-seeing Buddha eyes. So put on your hiking shoes and start climbing the steep stairways at the eastern entrance. This may take up to 15 minutes!
Just arrived at the base of the hill – breathless and sweating – it seems like you’ve entered a small village, dominated by the stupa and surrounded by numerous prayer wheels, little shrines, temples, monasteries, colorful prayer flags, painted images of deities and a range of other religious objects, not to mention a variety of shops and a restaurant.
Surrounded by the smell of joss sticks and incense, the area is full of children, old people and monks as well as men and women with offerings or dogs, pigeons and last but not least, countless monkeys. It’s a spectacular place you won’t forget!
Let me give you two handy hints for a comfortable stay at the Swayambhunath stupa:
1. Instead of taking the stairs you can reach the stupa by taxi through a car road around the hill leading to the southwest entrance.
2. Don’t take fruits into the temple if you want to keep a peaceful relationship with the hairy red fools!