Swayambhunath Stupa is the oldest of its kind and one of the holiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal. Believed to be have built in 460 A.D. by King Manadeva. The stupa complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ list in 1979. Swayambhunath Stupa overlooks most parts of the valley, giving visitors panoramic views of the city. Its grand white dome and shimmering golden spire are visible from many kilometres away and from all sides of the Kathmandu Valley. The stupa has stood as a hallmark of faith and harmony for centuries with Hindu temples and deities incorporated in this Buddhist site.
Swayambhunath’s worshippers include Hindus, Vajrayana Buddhists of northern Nepal and Tibet, and the Newari Buddhists of central and southern Nepal. Each morning before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims will ascend the 365 steps that lead up the hill, however there is also a motor road going up almost to the top from where it is a short walk. Pilgrims taking 365 steps file past the gilded Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa (Newari Buddhists circle in the opposite, counter clockwise direction). On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes symbolising God's all-seeing perspective. There is no nose between the eyes but rather a representation of the number one in the Nepali alphabet, signifying that the single way to enlightenment is through the Buddhist path. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye, signifying the wisdom of looking within. No ears are shown because it is said the Buddha is not interested in hearing prayers in praise of him.
Visit Swayambhunath Stupa for an unmatched mix of religious, cultural and spiritual experiences. Located 3 km west of Kathmandu downtown on a hillock. The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines, temples, Tibetan monastery, museum and library.