Swayambhunath Diaries : A place of peace, sublime and religious admiration
The ancient vicinity of Swayambhunath is filled with rich Buddhist symbolism while antique artistry adorns all corners of the holy site. Numerous admirers of the wise and compassionate Buddha come to shower prayers of gratitude to the religious monument – also a designated UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. Stationed on top of a hill, like a precious jewel, the glimmering stupa stands guard fostering a peaceful aura upon its visitors.
There are various myths surrounding the existence of the Swayambhunath Chaitya. The name itself means ‘self-created’, a famous legend marks both the birthplace of Kathmandu and Swayambhunath. It is believed that a mystical lotus blossomed on the lake of the now Kathmandu Valley. The flower’s radiance drew the attention of the wise Bodhisattva, Manjushri. He cut a gorge on the hill to drain the lake and opened paths for other pilgrims to share the holiness of the lotus.
The enigmatic and enthralling landmark has had men of great importance visit this ancient monument. Kings, religious teachers, and holy men travelled from across regions to receive the path to enlightenment. Ashoka the Great is said to have visited Swayambhunath as well. Today thousands of devotees and tourists visit the devout site; other frequent visitors are the mischievous monkeys who scamper around the holy ground for food.
After ascending the 365 steps through the eastern gate, the sight of the gilded Vajra ‘thunderbolt’, the sublime whitewashed dome beholds you. A golden spire projects out from the roof of the stupa, while the meditative gaze of the Buddha is locked upon the valley below. Dozens of prayer wheels encircle the sacred stupa, inscribed upon the wheels are the holy words ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’-- a sacred mantra of the Buddhists. A Hindu temple dedicated to Harati also resides beside the stupa. Various small but significant shrines, temples, monasteries and religious objects are spread around the complex.
Everyday religious devotees walk around the spherical dome in clockwise motion and devotedly spin the prayer wheels while reciting mantras. As you pass around the Chaitya, you will notice five glistening Buddha statues.
Colourful souvenirs are lined in nearby shops, displaying the artistic craftwork of the Nepalis. From traditional craft to handmade jewelleries, many polished items lure many tourists into friendly bargains. While local paintings of the scenic mountains and villages of Nepal adorn the local art galleries.
Enjoy a warm evening from the edge of the hill and take pleasure upon distant view of the city below while watching the eternal sunset unfold. Let in a moment of quiet to reflect upon religious harmony of the people in Nepal and engulf its artistic beauty of the historic monument that stood the test of time.