Swayambhunath

Kathmandu, Nepal

Swayambhunath

9.2

Swayambhu (Devanagari: स्वयम्भू स्तूप; Newar: स्वयंभू; sometimes Swayambu or Swoyambhu) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Tibetan name for the site means 'Sublime Trees' (Wylie: Phags.pa Shing.kun), for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. However, Shing.kun may be a corruption of the local Nepal Bhasa name for the complex, Swayambhu, meaning 'self-sprung'. For the Buddhist Newars, in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudha.

The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha's eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the fashion of a nose. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long staircase leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the south-west entrance. The first sight on reaching the top of the stairway is the Vajra. Tsultrim Allione describes the experience:



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