Swayambhunath (also called Monkey Temple) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu valley, west of Kathmandu city. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Nepal, second only to the great Boudhanath stupa, and a major tourist attraction.

The Swayambhunath stupa is a golden spire crowning a conical wooded hill. It is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. It has a lofty white dome and a glittering golden spire that are visible from all sides of the valley.

The stupa in its surroundings consists of chaityas, temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects. Located on a hill on the outskirts of Kathmandu, the temple offers magnificent views over the city and on a clear day to the mountains beyond.

At the heart of the temple complex is the stupa, topped by the painted eyes of Buddha, surrounded by prayer wheels and numerous smaller temples. Also an important Tibetan Buddhist site, the area provides a fantastic moment.

Amazing to look at, the architectural beauty of the Swayambunath temple gives way to feelings of reverence and adoration. The stupa consists of a dome at the base and a cubical structure with the eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions.

There are pentagonal Toran present above each of the four sides with statues engraved in them. Behind and above the Toran there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers, there is a small space above which the Gajur is present.

According to Swayambhu Puran, the entire Kathmandu valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a mystical lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning ‘Self-created’ or ‘Self-existent’. The Bodhisattva Manjushri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and travelled there to worship it.