Kathmandu’s Monkey Temple and Pashupatinath Temple

Monkey Temple, or Swayambhunath

Located 365 steps about the city, Swayambhunath is a Buddhist and Hindu temple that is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal, possibly founded at the beginning of the 5th century CE. 

Mythically, the entire Kathmandu Valley was once filled with water. In the center grew a lotus. A holy man named Manjusri had a vision and traveled to the lotus. Seeing that the valley would be good for human settlement, he cut a gorge at Chovar and drained the lake. The lotus was transformed into the hill on which Swayambhunath sits and the flower became the Swayambhunath stupa (a stupa is a rounded structure containing Buddhist relics; the white in the image below is a stupa). 

The stupa has Buddha Eyes, or Wisdom Eyes, painted on it. They symbolize the omniscience of Buddha. The curly “nose” is the Nepali character for “1” representing uthe unity of all things as well as the path to enlightenment. The dot represents the third eye, another indicator of wisdom.

The same holy man who drained the lake let his hair grow long, and he developed head lice, which were then transformed into the monkeys that still live at the temple. 


Pashupatinath Hindu Temple

Pushupatinath is dedicated to the god Shiva and it one of the largest and most important Hindu temples in Nepal. The temple is closed off to non-Hindus. There is a viewpoint from on top of the hill, but there were two cremations going on and it seemed insensitive to photograph a funeral rite.
We were there on a day that was astrologically auspicious for weddings, and so got to witness this wedding procession:




And of course no temple is complete without monkeys:

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