Located in a lovely little hill rock Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the most fascinating architectural jewels of the world. This great Stupa is said to have been built around 250 B.C.
Generally a holy memorial site Stupa represents a typical Buddhist architecture. Its main feature the white dome is identified with a spotless pure jewel of Nirvana and a thirteen tiered golden spire in conical shape surmounted on the dome. Underneath this towering structure is pair of all seeing eyes of Buddha painted on all four sides of the Stupa.
The Stupa of Swayambhunath stands on a typically stylized lotus mandala base-a long time ago believed to have originated from a legendary lake of Kathmandu Valley.
As the ancient legend goes Kathmandu Valley was a lake a long time ago. Right in the centre of this lake was a full blown lotus with the divine light a top. When Maha Manjushri a saint from China heard about this he came rushing all the way from China to the Valley. He cut through the southern wall hill of the valley with his divine sword. The cleft made by the sword immediately drained the entire lake water making the valley floor open for a close up view of the divine lotus light.
This holy site in fact is the massive Stupa complex ever built in Nepal. Hundreds of votive shrines and other historical monuments built in and around this Stupa speak a lot about the significance and antiquity of this famed Stupa.
It lies about 3k.m. west of down town Kathmandu. There are two different ways to reach for this site. One is from the west side which is relatively a short cut and another is from the east side where it leads to the main entrance with 360 steps leading all the way to the top, where the most venerated Swayambhunath Stupa stands-commanding a magnificent view of Kathmandu Valley and the breathtaking panorama of the north eastern Himalayan range.
Other important things to be seen here include a magnificent two tiered golden temple dedicated to Harati. She is the grand mother deity of children and small pox who was said to be the Ogress until Lord Buddha converted her to be the great caretaker of the children.
Not to far from this temple is Dewa Dharma monastery-noted for a bronze icon of Buddha and traditional Tibetan paintings.
The huge gold plated Vajra ‘ the priestly symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism set on the Dharmadhatu mandala at the side of the Stupa is worth a close look.
Important days to visit this holy site:
1. Buddha Purnima, the birth day of Lord Buddha which fails on the full moon day of Baishak (April-May)
2. Gunla the holy Buddhist month according to Newari calendar (Aug.-Sept., early Morning).
3. Kojagrath Purnima (Sept.-Oct.)
4. Samyak day of the Magh (Jan.Feb.) (Every twelve years)