Swayambhunath Stupa, Nicknamed as Monkey Temple

Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu is Known as the "Monkey Temple," it stands tall atop a hill with its majestic dome and stunning views of the city below. Visiting this awe-inspiring holy site will transport you back in time while captivating your senses with its vibrant colors, intricate carvings, and lively atmosphere.


The Swayambhunaath temple complex includes a magnificent domed stupa and other temples and shrines, some of which date back to the Licchavi era. A Tibetan monastery, museum, and library have recently been added to the site. Buddha's eyes, brows, and nose are painted on the major attraction stupa.

The body part of the stupa is painted lightly with saffron, saffron is considered auspicious in both Hindu and Buddhist culture. Although each temple is incredibly magnificent and lavishly decked with gold and vivid prayer flags, it's not just the religious architecture that attracts tourists.

What is the Swayambhunath Stupa?

Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal. It is also known as the "monkey temple" because of the large number of monkeys that live in the area. The stupa is located on a hilltop overlooking Kathmandu and is surrounded by prayer flags and prayer wheels. Visitors can walk around the stupa, spin the prayer wheels, and light candles or incense at the shrine.

The History of the Swayambhunath Stupa

According to ancient scriptures Swayambhu Purana, the entire Kathmandu valley was once submerged with water, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning "Self-Created". The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame over which a stupa was later built.

The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the most ancient and sacred Buddhist sites in Nepal. The stupa is said to have been built by the great emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. However, some historians believe that it was built even earlier, in the 5th century BC. The stupa has undergone many renovations over the centuries.

The Swayambhunath Stupa is situated on a hilltop west of Kathmandu. It is surrounded by several temples and monasteries, which makes it an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world. The stupa itself is a large dome-shaped structure with a central spire. It is covered with intricate carvings and paintings of Buddhist deities.

Prayer Flags
Prayer Flags

Inside the stupa, there is a small shrine where devotees can offer prayers and light candles. There are also many small shops selling Buddhist artifacts and souvenirs. Visitors can climb up to the top of the stupa for a panoramic view of Kathmandu city.

The Significance of the Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the most sacred sites in Nepal. It is situated on a hillock west of Kathmandu and is also known as the Monkey Temple. The stupa was built in the 5th century and is a symbol of faith and spirituality for both Hindus and Buddhists.

The stupa has great religious significance as it is believed to contain a relic of Buddha. It is also an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world. Every year, thousands of pilgrims visit Swayambhunath to offer prayers and receive blessings.

The stupa is also a popular tourist destination as it offers stunning views of the Kathmandu Valley. Visitors can also see monkeys roaming around the temple complex. The Swayambhunath Stupa is a must-visit when in Nepal.

Nicknamed as Monkey Temple

This sacred pilgrimage site is also home to hundreds of monkeys living in the northwest parts of the stupa. It is believed that the monkeys transformed from the head lice of Manjushri, one of the Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism. You will see those monkeys almost everywhere around the stupa. And now this Swayambhunaath Maha chaitya is nicknamed "Monkey Temple".

Monkey around Stupa
Visiter Taking Picture of a monkey

How to get to the Swayambhunath Stupa

The Swayambhunath stupa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kathmandu. It is situated on a hilltop west within walking distance of 3.5 km to the west of Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal, and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. There are several ways to get to the stupa, depending on your level of fitness and preferred mode of transport.

The easiest way to get to the Swayambhunath stupa is by taxi or private car. If you are staying in Kathmandu, your hotel can arrange a taxi for you. The journey from central Kathmandu takes around 30 minutes. You can also take a public bus from Ratna Park, which is located near Thamel, the main tourist area. The buses run regularly and the journey takes around 45 minutes.

If you are feeling fit, you can hike up to the Swayambhunath stupa. The hike takes around 1-2 hours depending on your pace. The route starts from Jyatha Tole, which is a 10-15 minute walk from Thamel.

The main entrance to the swayambhu complex has a lengthy stone staircase from the road that leads directly to the swayambhu stupa. The first thing you see as you get to the top of the stairs is an enormous lightning bolt.

365 Stone Steps
Lightning Bolt

There is another way to reach the swayambhu stupa from the south, a motor road that leads to the southwest entrance. The first thing you see as you get to the second way is a world peace pond.

World Peace Pond
Small Stupa Near World Peace Pond

 There are plenty of signs along the way so it's easy to find your way. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Kathmandu city and the surrounding mountains.


What to do at the Swayambhunath Stupa

When visiting the Swayambhunath Stupa, there are a few things that you should do to fully enjoy the experience. First, it is important to dress appropriately. Second, be sure to walk clockwise around the stupa three times. This is considered to be good luck. Third, take a moment to light a candle or incense at one of the shrines. Doing so will help you to connect with the Buddhist tradition. Lastly, be sure to enjoy the incredible views of Kathmandu from atop the stupa!


Major Attractions In Swayambhunath Stupa

  1. Magnificent Domed Stupa
  2. The Vajra (Lightning Bolt)
  3. Harati Devi Temple
  4. Shantipur,Pratapur and Anantapur
  5. Shree Karma Raj Mahavihar
  6. World Peace Pond

Opening Hours
5 AM-8 PM, throughout the week

When to go to Swayambhunath

Make sure you go to Swayambhunath before 9 am to enjoy the stunning sunrise and beautiful panoramic view of Kathmandu Valley

Entry Fee
For locals – Free
For SAARC citizens – NPR 50 per head

For foreigners – NPR 200 per head

Children below the age of 10 are free to enter


The lifeblood of Nepalese culture and religion, the Swayambhunath Stupa is a must-see for all visitors to Kathmandu. Its rich history, sacredness, and natural beauty make it truly unique and special. Whether you’re looking for a spiritual experience or just want to take in some stunning views, this iconic landmark is sure to be one of your most memorable experiences in Nepal. So plan your trip today and make sure that visiting the Swayambhunath Stupa is top on your list!