Swayambhunath Stupa and Temple Complex
Swayambhu is a Buddhist stupa set on a hill northwest of Kathmandu, and surrounded by a complex of other temples. More than 2,500 years old, this ancient landmark is connected to the visit of the bodhisattva Manjushree who created Kathmandu - a lake then - by draining its waters with his magical sword. The sage saw a celestial lotus in bloom on the top of this hill and sanctified it.
The earliest legends and chronicles mention the site, and the name means Self-Created Lord." The site probably was sacred from the first habitation: Stories tell of a dazzling radience that poured off the hill, and historians speculate that either an outcropping of crystal that refracted light or a natural gas vent ignited by lightening could have been the original object of worship. The current stupa was built in the early 5th century CE, on the site of an earlier stupa according to the records.
In addition to the mound's symbolism - the Buddha's burial mounds - site sumbolizes the five elements of earth, fire, wind, water and spirit. The 13 gilded rings of the spire mark the 13 steps of the path to nirvana, the final salvation.
The pilgrim's progress to Swaymbhunath's holy premises is a climb through a sylvan path of 365 steps. The entrance is graced by a huge vajra (symbol of thunderbolt). Statues of Buddha are on the four corners of the stupa. Statues of goddessses Ganga and Jamuna guard the eternal flame behind it. The terraces around the hilltop are ideal for viewing Kathmandu and the valley.
The Magnificent Seven - The World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley
The Valley of Kathmandu is fertile, flat and compact. It is situated at the altitude of between 1,200 to 1,500 meters (between 4,000 to 5,000 feet).
The valley is also small, with an area of only 220 square miles (570 square kilometers). Yet in its smallness, there are record seven World Heritage Sites declared by the UNESCO - a fact unrivalled anywhere in the world! The seven man-made wonders are the milestones of Nepal's past and a living museum of high culture.
Unesco World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu