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.
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.
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.
Who built the Swayambhunath temple / stupa?
It was built by the great grand father of King Manadeva, King Vṛsadeva.
My German travel companion for the day, posing in front of the steps. It wasn’t the best season to visit Nepal (rainy season), but we had no rain whatsoever that day!
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.
How many steps to Swayambhunath temple?
Although I didn’t count them myself, reportedly it’s 365 steps to get up that hill.
Lovely old couple, walking the 365 steps to the temple. I really like this photo (if I may say so myself :))
Stunning view: Kathmandu as seen from the 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.
Of course there are tourists, but I like the fact that there are a lot of Nepali people as well.
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.
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.