Tag Archives: swayambhunath stupa

Namo Buddha : Nepal

Namo Buddha is about 40km away from the heart of Kathmandu City. It is in Kavre District towards the southeast of the valley. Driving from Kathmandu, it took us around 2 hours to get there. We left the paved road and drove on dirt road after an hour. After about 45 minutes we caught a glimpse of the temple through the clouds.

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Namo Buddha is a beautiful place far from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, with no pollution, and the air is so fresh and cool. Situated at an elevation of 1750 m above sea level, Namo Buddha is a great tourist destination around Kathmandu valley. From the top of the hill you can see the snow-covered Himalayan ranges which look so pure and amazing.

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From the Buddhist point of view, Namo Buddha is one of the most important religious sites in Nepal. There are three major Buddhist pilgrimage sites: Boudha Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa and Namo Buddha.

I went there with my parents and an aunty.Once we parked the car, we had to go through a big gate to reach the stupa. The stupa was not as big as Boudha Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa but has high significance.

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According to history around 6000 years ago prince Great Being (Ngingdui Tshenpo Mahasatwo), found a tigress lying near a rock at the top of the hill, overlooking the jungle. Very quickly, he realized that she was going to die. Her five babies were still little and their survival depended on their mother. Ngingdui Tshenpo,  was a young man who had his own kingdom but he decide to give his life to the tigress in a bust of love and compassion. The tigress refused. When the tigress refused to eat him, he decided to cut his arm to feed his warm blood to the tigress. The taste of blood gave the tigress an appetite and finally she accepted the sacrifice from the prince. The tigress left only the bare bones of the prince which were brought back in the village and buried in a tomb which became the actual stupa of Namo Buddha. Some 3500 years later, the Gautam Buddha came to the village of Sange da Fyafulsa; he went around the Stupa three times and declared that he was the reincarnation of Prince Ngingdui Tshenpo. It was that moment that Gautam Buddha renamed this village and henceforth the name of Namo Buddha which means First Buddha.

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My mum and my aunty bought the butter lamps and offered it to the Buddha and we prayed and went around the Stupa. There were a few kids begging money. At first I didn’t wanted to give money to them and spoil their habit but later I felt sorry for them and gave them 10 rupees each.

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Once we were done, everyone was hungry at this point so we went to a local restaurant. Everyone had rice, dal, vegetable (meat is not available in the local restaurants as Buddhist doesn’t eat meat) but I ordered my favourite Wai Wai instant noodle soup. After lunch we all were recharged and went back in the car to go to the monastery.

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The Thrangu Tashi Yangtse monastery looked really beautiful up-close. As there was specific time for the opening of the monastery we waited for it to open.  As we waited, we saw there were more people coming to visit the place.

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The inside of the monastery was impressive but pictures are not allowed inside. There were about 10-15 painters working on hand painting the walls.  The walls and ceiling were very colourful with Buddhist paintings. The place is really silent and I could easily imagine why people came there to meditate.

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As we walk out from the monastery, there are prayer wheels all around it.  We rotated the prayer wheels and walked around the monastery. A prayer wheel is a cylindrical “wheel” on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. According to the lineage texts on prayer wheels, prayer wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and merit (good karma) and to purify negativities (bad karma).

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From the monastery, we walked to towards the top of the hill. There is a big statue of the Buddha at one place made out of brass.

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As we walked towards the top of the hill, we reached a stone sculpture that depicted Buddha himself feeding a hungry tigress and her cubs. It is believed that the place is where Buddha gave up his body.

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Following the ridge to another summit on the same hill, there is another small Stupa which is said to be the spot of the den of the tigress. There, we saw pilgrims lying down on the ground as if offering their bodies to the place. Pieces of cloth hung on the branches of the tree for protection. It was such a beautiful place to be at.

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When we reached the top of the hill, we could see the monastery and the view of the village. On one side we could even see some part of the Karve District forest. The top of the hill is surrounded by colourful prayer flags and there were a few people enjoying their picnic around the area.

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I really liked this side of Kathmandu and it will be a great place for anyone to go for a day or more to enjoy the peace you can find so close to busy Kathmandu.

Till next post, take care!

M from nepaliaustralia

XOXO

P.S.: I am going to Bryan Adams concert tonight and very excited. I will update more soon. Happy weekend everyone!!!

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Swayambhunath: Kathmandu, Nepal

Going regularly to a temple is big part of Nepali culture. You will often see people of all age going to a temple early in the mornings. While in Nepal, we tried to go to different temples as well. For us it was more of going to see the place than for religion but if we were to get blessed while we were there then even better :). One of the temples we visited was Swayambhunath, also know was Monkey Temple by tourist in Kathmandu.

One day we were invited for lunch to our aunt’s house, which is near to Swayambhunath, so we decided to visit the temple before we went for lunch. Swayambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. Even though Swayambhunath is a Buddhist stupa, yet it is equally popular with the Hindu pilgrims as well.

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Legend has it that Kathmandu Valley was once an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning “Self-Created.” The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame (svyaṃbhu) over which a stupa was later built.

Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning was raising the hill which the Swayambhunath Temple stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he made it grow long and so head lice grew on them. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.

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The Bodhisattva Manjusri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley could be a good place for settlement and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjusri cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower became the Swayambhunath stupa.

As we were driving to the hill where Swayambhunath stupa is, we could really see how beautiful the temple is.  Around the bend of some roads, the temple comes into full view, and we can see the large Buddha’s eyes, sitting below a golden roof at the peak, keeping watch over the valley.

These large pair of eyes, which represent Wisdom and Compassion, on each of the four sides of the main stupa. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. It is said that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which act as messages to heavenly beings, so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha’s teaching, however, the cosmic rays relieve their suffering when Buddha preaches.

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The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (represented by eyes of wisdom and compassion) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state of enlightenment. The thirteen pinnacles on the top symbolize that sentient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of spiritual realizations to reach enlightenment or Buddhahood.

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When we reached the gate leading to the steps, there were many monkeys all over the place. Some people were feeding monkeys which were running everywhere. I am scared of monkeys as a monkey had snatched a bag from my hand when I was kid so I went and hid behind my husband and brother when I saw them running towards us. I have to say they are pretty well behaved as they don’t bother you unless you annoy them.

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On the side of the gates, there were ladies selling Puja items like candle, flowers and souvenirs.

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There are 365 steps and it is believed that there’s a step for each day of the year, starting at the gate and ending at the stupa. We started to climb the stairs and more monkeys emerged. I stayed close to AS and I was fine. We took a few photos as we climbed up and as we went higher the view got even better. There were many beggars sitting on either sides of the stairs as well and some of them I felt really sorry for as they had small children with them.

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As we reached the top, we could see more monkeys everywhere. There were also stalls selling the usual touristy items. There were many interesting, well-done acrylic paintings of the Himalayas, Nepali hand puppets and other handicrafts.

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There were also lots of people worshipping in the temple with diyo and candles. I could see prayer flags around the stupa and lots of diyo lit in front of the temple next to stupa. The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period as well as a Tibetan monastery, a museum and a library.

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 As we walked around the temple, we rotated the prayer wheels. A prayer wheel is a cylindrical “wheel” on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. According to the lineage texts on prayer wheels, prayer wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and merit (good karma) and to purify negativities (bad karma).

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At one end of the temple area, there is a viewpoint from where you can see the entire Kathmandu. I remember coming there when we were young and we used to try to find our house from there but these days due to population and pollution, you can’t see very far. I felt really sad to see how Kathmandu has changed in the last decade and definitely not for the better in terms of the environment.

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After looking around for a few more minutes, we decided to back down to the car. As you come down, there is a golden statue of Buddha surrounded by water. People were throwing coins into a bucket there and it is believed if your coin enters the bucket, it will bring good luck. My brother and SIL were trying their luck so AS asked me to throw some coins as well. It reminded me of the Trevi fountain when we were in Italy. There were lots of coins lying around the statue there as well but I am sure, the amount of money thrown here is nowhere near the amount in the Trevi fountain.

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After our visit to the temple, we were really hungry so we went to our aunt’s house for lunch 🙂

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