And Then There Were Monkeys

On Sunday, alongside my friends Ashmita and her niece Garmia, Sara, Kalpana, Samita and Thukten, I got to visit one of the most beautiful places in Nepal: Swayambhunath, or also lovingly referred to as "Monkey Temple." You know I had to. :) So, here's what it was like:

A selfie. From left; Samita, me, Kalpana, Sara holding Ashmita's niece, Ashmita, Thukten. 

A selfie. From left; Samita, me, Kalpana, Sara holding Ashmita's niece, Ashmita, Thukten. 

Swayambhunath, also called "Monkey Temple," is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of the city. The Tibetan name means 'Sublime Trees', for the variety of trees. It might be the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites, second only to Boudhanath.

Swayambhunath's worshippers include Hindus, Vajrayana Buddhists of northern Nepal and Tibet, and the Newari Buddhists of central and southern Nepal.

I read that each morning, pilgrims ascend the 365 steps that lead up the hill, file past the gilded Vajra and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa. 

On each of the four sides of the main stupa you'll see a pair of eyes, symbolic of God's all-seeing perspective.

You won't see a nose, but rather Nepali's number one, signifying that the way to enlightenment is through the Buddhist path. His third eye signifies the wisdom of looking within. He has no ears because it's said Buddha is not interested in praise.

Dearest Kalpana. Look at that beauty! :)

Dearest Kalpana. Look at that beauty! :)

And let me tell you, I've never seen such beautiful views. Well maybe I have, but I can't remember.

 I clearly couldn't stop taking pictures of the view at every stop along the way. 

Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple for its monkey tenants.

They are holy because Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning was raising the hill which the Swayambhunath Temple stands on. The monkeys sprouted from his head lice.

And from personal experience, they're not to be messed with. They're actually quite terrifying if they want to be. One almost lunged at me because I took too long to take his portrait. ha. But sometimes they can surprise you with their humor. Sara witnessed one monkey stealing a bottle of water from a tourist and not even drinking it, but pouring it out in front of the tourist's face.

I know, so sassy. :) 

The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples (some dating back to the Licchavi period), a Tibetan monastery, museum, library, shops, restaurants and hostels. 

Samita throws her coin into the wishing well. It was intense.

Samita throws her coin into the wishing well. It was intense.

We would look above us and it seemed like Tibetan flags were every where. I have expected monkeys to be dangling from them. 

It such a humid day, but that's because it didn't rain. For once, in the midst of monsoon season, there was no rain. Well, we got lucky. Blue skies definitely elevated these visuals. Wasn't me. ha.

Oh and also, if you're interested in watching a really beautiful 4K video on this place, check out Devin Supertramp's:

Alright guys, thank you for sifting through the photos. I was a tad trigger happy, I have to say. 

'Til the next post.

- B