Exploring Swayambhunath: all questions answered

Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, is one of Kathmandu’s highlights to visit. The beautiful temple was partially destroyed during the earthquake in 2015, but the main stupa luckily survived. It’s still a stunning place to visit.

I’ll walk you through it with photos, and I’ll shortly answer some frequently asked questions about this temple complex.

On my way to Swayambhunath. The surroundings are beautiful.

Swayambhunath temple

Where is Swayambhunath located? 

Swayambhunath is located on a hill, about 3km / 2 miles west of Kathmandu. It’s one of the holiest Buddhist temples in Nepal, with a main stupa and some surrounding monastries and shrines.

Swayambhunath temple

When was swayambhunath built / established?

The temple was built in the year 460, and by the 13th century it was a popular and important place for Buddhists. It literally means ‘self-built’ because the Nepali people believe the temple formed itself.

Swayambhunath temple

Swayambhunath temple

Who built the Swayambhunath temple / stupa?

It was built by the great grand father of King Manadeva, King Vṛsadeva.

Swayambhunath temple

My German travel companion for the day, posing in front of the steps.

Swayambhunath temple

Swayambhunath temple

How to get from Thamel to Swayambhunath? 

That’s an easy one: just walk! It’s only 3km / 2 miles from Kathmandu, and it gives you the opportunity to see other parts of the city which you might miss if you take a taxi. Of course it is possible to take a taxi there as well, if you’re not into walking. Anyhow, it’s definitely easy to make this temple a part of your Nepal travel itinerary.

Swayambhunath temple

How many steps to Swayambhunath temple?

Although I didn’t count them myself, reportedly it’s 365 steps to get up that hill.

Swayambhunath temple

Lovely old couple, walking the 365 steps to the temple. I really like this photo (if I may say so myself :))

Swayambhunath temple

Stunning view: Kathmandu as seen from the temple.

Swayambhunath temple

Why are there so many monkeys near the temple? 

It used to be a dense forest, but it gradually disappeared. The monkeys stayed and got accustomed to humans, because they often bring food. That’s why the temple is also known as the Monkey Temple.

Swayambhunath temple

Of course there are tourists, but I like the fact that there are a lot of Nepali people as well.

Swayambhunath temple

Swayambhunath temple

There are some nice back alleys which you can explore. If you choose the right moment, it’ll be an oasis of peace and quiet.

Swayambhunath temple

Swayambhunath temple

What are the Swayambhunath opening hours? 

It’s open 24/7, so you can visit every day of the week, either day or night. Whenever you like.

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