Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhu (Devanagari: स्वयम्भू स्तूप; Newar: स्वयंभू; sometimes Swayambu or Swoyambhu) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Tibetan name for the site means 'Sublime Trees' (Wylie: Phags.pa Shing.kun), for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. However, Shing.kun may be a corruption of the local Nepal Bhasa name for the complex, Swayambhu, meaning 'self-sprung'. For the Buddhist Newars, in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudha.

The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddh...Read more

Swayambhu (Devanagari: स्वयम्भू स्तूप; Newar: स्वयंभू; sometimes Swayambu or Swoyambhu) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Tibetan name for the site means 'Sublime Trees' (Wylie: Phags.pa Shing.kun), for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. However, Shing.kun may be a corruption of the local Nepal Bhasa name for the complex, Swayambhu, meaning 'self-sprung'. For the Buddhist Newars, in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudha.

The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha's eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the fashion of a nose. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long staircase leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the south-west entrance. The first sight on reaching the top of the stairway is the Vajra. Tsultrim Allione describes the experience:

We were breathless and sweating as we stumbled up the last steep steps and practically fell upon the biggest vajra (thunderbolt scepter) that I have ever seen. Behind this Vajra was the vast, round, white dome of the stupa, like a full solid skirt, at the top of which were two giant Buddha eyes wisely looking out over the peaceful valley which was just beginning to come alive.

Much of Swayambhunath's iconography comes from the Vajrayana tradition of Newar Buddhism. However, the complex is also an important site for Buddhists of many schools, and is also revered by Hindus.

History

Swayambhunath is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. According to the Gopālarājavaṃśāvalī, it was founded by the great-grandfather of King Mānadeva (464-505 CE), King Vṛsadeva, about the beginning of the 5th century CE. This seems to be confirmed by a damaged stone inscription found at the site, which indicates that King Vrsadeva ordered work done in 640 CE.[1]

However, Emperor Ashoka is said to have visited the site in the third century BCE and built a temple on the hill which was later destroyed.

Although the site is considered Buddhist, the place is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. Numerous Hindu monarch followers are known to have paid their homage to the temple, including Pratap Malla, the powerful king of Kathmandu, who is responsible for the construction of the eastern stairway in the 17th century.[2]

The stupa was completely renovated in May 2010, its first major renovation since 1921[3][4] and its 15th in the nearly 1,500 years since it was built. The Swayambhu Shrine was re-gilded using 20 kg of gold. The renovation was funded by the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center of California, and began in June 2008.[5]

At around 5 a.m. on 14 February 2011, Pratapur Temple in the Swayambhu Monument Zone suffered damage from a lightning strike during a sudden thunderstorm.[6]

The Swayambunath complex suffered damage in the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.[7]

^ Cite error: The named reference Shaha, Rishikesh 1992 p. 122 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Lonely Planet Nepal (2005). Swayambhu. ^ Gutschow, Niels (1997). The Nepalese Caitya: 1500 Years of Buddhist Votive Architecture in the Kathmandu Valley. Edition Axel Menges. p. 92. ISBN 9783930698752. Retrieved 8 April 2014. ^ Shakya, Hem Raj. (2002) Sri Svayambhu Mahacaitya. Kathmandu: Svayambhu Vikash Mandala. ISBN 99933-864-0-5 ^ Utpal Parashar (14 June 2010). "Oldest Buddhist monument gets a makeover in Nepal". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 17 June 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2018. ^ Lightning damages Pratapur Temple of Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site, Nepal, UNESCO, 16 February 2011 ^ "Nepal earthquake damages Swayambhunath temple complex". BBCNews. 25 April 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
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65
Rank
1812
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