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The 3 large Buddha stand above the worshipers and tourists below.

The 3 large Buddha statues stand above the worshipers and tourists below.

When I visited this park, I had no idea that it was only a small part of a large complex of Buddhist temples and shrines called Swayambhunath. Consequently, due to my ignorance – I was only able to see the “environmental park” and missed out on much, much more. Nevertheless, what I saw here was awesome and unforgettable. Tourists commonly call Swayambhunath, the “Monkey Temple,” probably due to the large monkey population here.

I will likely return in a few days to see the entire site, but for now, I will tell you about what I did see during my visit. Swayambhu means self manifested or “that which is created by its own accord.” When this temple was founded nearly 2000 years ago, the site – Kathmandu valley – was a large lake.  According to legend, a large perfect lotus grew in the middle of the lake. When the bodhisattva  Manjusri drained the lake with a slash from his sword, the lotus settled on top of a hill and transformed into a Stupa. Thus, it is known as the “self-created” (swayambhu) Stupa.

A large prayer wheel which takes 2 people to turn.

A large prayer wheel which worshipers turn while repeating prayer mantras.

Prayer wheel observed from outside the entrance.

Prayer wheel observed from outside the entrance.

Shrine inset into stone wall.

Shrine inset into stone wall.

Another shrine.

Another shrine.

Chhiring Sherpa, who runs a small shop. I bought a small gold Tibetan Om medallion from her and she threw in a small hand made bag, that Nepalese and Tibetan people normally use for carrying their money.

Chhiring Sherpa, who runs a small shop. I bought a small gold Tibetan Om medallion from her and she threw in a small hand-made bag, that Nepalese and Tibetan people normally use for carrying their money.

The Om medallion with Tibetan script; bag with ingenious drawstrings to close and open the bag; and, a very small prayer wheel that my friend, Ursina, gave me.

The Om medallion with Tibetan script; bag with ingenious drawstrings to close and open the bag; and, a very small prayer wheel that my friend, Ursina, gave me.

The flip side of the Om medallion, with intricate Buddhist markings.

The flip side of the Om medallion, with intricate Buddhist markings.

When I first entered this park, I came upon a large prayer wheel, with smaller prayer wheels surrounding a larger shrine. You go up the stairs and to your right, is a small gift shop, with Buddhist and Hindu religious souvenirs. I haven’t purchased too many things from any of the countries I have visited. Why? Trying carrying that stuff around in a small 45 liter back pack. I am still a bit upset about having to purchase a transformer in my first country visited, New Zealand. It easly weighs as much as a small brick and if I could get rid of it, I would. Unfortunately, I need it to charge my tablet.

Entrance to temples and shrines.

Entrance to temples and shrines. Notice the small stupas surrounding the entrance.

In any event, I have only purchased this medallion; another Buddhist necklace with a coin medallion, denoting wealth and good fortune; and a small jade and cat eye bracelet. That’s it folks. I will probably purchase a few more of those bags, albeit, a bit larger than the tiny one I got free. For the rest of this post, I will let the photos and their captions tell the rest of my visit to this site. Take care, Steven . . .  🙂

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A large gold stupa.

A large gold stupa.

One of the three Buddha. Incense burning below the statue.

One of the three Buddha. Incense burning below the statue.

The other Buddha.

The other Buddha.

Inside Chhiring's shop.

Inside Chhiring’s shop.

If you look carefully, this is a map of the entire site, showing the stairs I should have accessed through the forest up the hill to the rest of the religious site.

If you look carefully, this is a map of the entire site, showing the stairs I should have accessed via the forest and which go up the hill to the rest of the religious site.

Temple.

Temple.

Interesting figures which are located around the base of the Buddha statues, almost as if they are holding up the "heavens."

Interesting figures which are located around the base of the Buddha statues, almost as if they are holding up the “heavens.”

I think this is a dog, but not certain.

I think this is a dog, but not certain.

Elephant doing its part to hold up the world.

Elephant doing its part to hold up the world.

Gold stupa, one of many dotting this temple site.

Gold stupa, one of many dotting this temple site.

Prayer wheel.

Prayer wheel.

Buddhist deities.

I believe this is the Hindu Goddess, Lakshmi.

Another stupa.

Another stupa.

The main reason this place is called the Monkey Temple by tourists.

The main reason this place is called the Monkey Temple by tourists.

Another shot of the 3 Buddhas.

Another shot of the 3 Buddhas.

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