The meaning of Swayambu is “self-created”.Swayambhunath is an ancient and Hindu-Buddhist religious complex situated at the top of the Kathmandu Valley. It is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist stupa. Though there is no concrete proof of the establishment of this stupa it is believed to be more than 2000 years old. It is built of a solid hemisphere of bricks and earth supporting a lofty conical spire covered by a pinnacle of copper, which is glited with gold and painted on the four sides of the spire bases are all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha which represent the Wisdom and Compassion.

Visitors for whom the name was a tongue twister generally called it “Monkey Temple” since the 1970s. Being situated at the top of the hill, Swayambhu offers a panoramic view of the entire Kathmandu Valley. The civilization of Kathmandu city is said to have started from this point.


According to the legends, the ancient river suddenly had a lotus flower blooming in the middle of the Kathmandu valley. As time-lapse, the flower started to spread in such a way that starts to cap Kathmandu Valley. A huge illusion of Siddharth Gautam Sakyamuni (Gautam Buddha) was started to see on the top of the lotus by Manjushree (A bodhisattva of learning and wisdom). Manjushree had that illusion and traveled to worship there. Manjushree thinks that valley could be a good settlement, and for the access of the human pilgrims to that lotus, he cut a gorge at chovar. The water drained out of the lake and starts to flow leaving the valley which Kathmandu lies now. In the end, the lotus transformed into a beautiful hill and the flower transformed as Stupa.


The base of the Swyambhunath stupa is in cubical shape. On each of the four sides, there is a pentagonal-shaped Toran and a pair of lord Buddha’s eyes. On each side of the stupa, there is five Buddha locally known as “Panch Buddha”. Just after crossing the stairs, we approach the entrance gate of Swyambhunath stupa where two lion statues are in the position of guard. The most popular and recommended route to visit the stupa is the front staircase otherwise; pilgrims can reach another entrance gate through the drive from where they have to walk less. At the very bottom of the staircase on the eastern side, there is a large 12 feet tall Tibetan prayer wheel that would take two or three strong people to move. In order to perform prayers, there are numerous small wheels near the gate. Just right before the stairs, you will find the 17th centuries Buddha’s statues which are worshipped by women. Along the stairs, you can spot many small shops where merchants sell the inscribed Tibetan stones replicas to tourists. The staircase takes you through the jungle/forest belt inhabited by numerous monkeys.

Tourist Attraction Places

Before the sunrise, you’ll find many pilgrims walking through the 365 step stairs to the top of the hill where the stupa is situated.

  1. Harati Devi Temple:

    Harati Devi Temple is well-known and notable temple in Sawyambhu area. This temple is offered to the Hindu goddess Harati Devi (Eradicator of smallpox). This temple is specially visit by women and children to seek blessing. As a deity the temple holds 19th century statue.

  2. Vajra

    Dharmadhatu Mandala lies side of the stupa where you can find priestly symbol , the gold plated Vajra is placed. It is considered as important because Vajrayana is the iconic symbol of Buddhism.

  3. Pratapur and Anantapur

    The ruler of Kathmandu from Malla Dynasty, King Pratap Malla has built two temples in the shape of the bullet. The both temple was built in the victory over Tibet in 17th century which is in scripted in the bells in front of temple.

  4. Shree Karma Raj Mahavihar

    Shree Karma Raj Mahavihar is the attraction point of the many pilgrims and tourist because every evening 3 pm to 4 pm the rituals were present here by the monk of the monastery.

  5. Shantipur

    Shantipur is a box-shaped temple, which is said to contain a living man inside the temple from 1500 years to now. It is said that once King Pratap Malla visited this chamber, and according to him he had to go through several underground rooms filled with frightening elements like snakes, hawks, ghosts, and so on in the last of the chamber the king found that one saint was still alive and deeply in the meditation. That saint name is Shanti Sri who has locked himself inside the vault under the temple since 5th century.

Entry Fee to visit Swyambhunath Stupa

NationalityEntry Fees in NPR.
SAARC Citizens50
Entry Fees for LocalFree
Note: Children below the age of 10, from any country are free to enter.

Best time to visit Stupa

It is good to visit the temple before 9 AM in the morning because in the daytime many pilgrims and other tourists perform touristy activities. Also, try to skip Saturday’s visit to this stupa because Saturday is the public holiday in Nepal and many locals and internal tourist comes to visit, so you have to face the crowd on the day.