Idea #763 – Exploring Swayambhunath Temple, one of Nepal’s oldest religious sites
Swayambhunath is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal. According to the Gopālarājavaṃśāvalī, Swayambhunath was founded by King Mānadeva’s great-grandfather, King Vṛsadeva, around the beginning of the 5th century. This seems to be confirmed by a damaged inscription on a stone found at the site.
Although the site is considered Buddhist, the place is revered by Buddhists and Hindus. Many Hindu kings are known to have paid homage to the temple, including the most powerful king of Kantipur, Pratap Malla. Restorations of the Swayambunath stupa were carried out in 1750, 1758, as well as 1825 and 1983 by kings of the Shah dynasty.
The most monumental part of the temple is a stupa, forming the base. Above the dome is a quadrangular tower bearing the eyes of Buddha, looking in all four directions. The site has other features, such as a pagoda-like temple with a golden facade, a monastery, several Buddha statues, and workshops.
Every morning before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims ascend the 365 steps on the east side that lead up the hill, passing the Golden Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of circum- ambulations clockwise around the stupa, turning the prayer wheels. By this gesture, they start the wheel of life.
Where is it ?
Swayambhunath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal