SwayambhuTours & Activities
A little to the west of Kathmandu, planted like a lotus on woody Swayambhu Hill, the gold-covered Swayambhunath Stupa (often called the "monkey temple") can be seen from the city, flinging off the rays of the sun. One of Nepal's oldest religious sites, Swayambhu is of huge significance to the country's Buddhists but is also revered by Hindu worshippers. The Buddha's eyes, painted on the four sides of the stupa tower, gaze out across the Kathmandu Valley in four directions, and he's got quite a view, with the soft green of the tree-swathed hill slopes, the city panorama beyond, and in clear weather a glimpse of the distant Himalayas.
"The monkey temple" is, of course, called that for a reason: the trees and stupa surrounds are dotted with golden rhesus macaques, and their impossibly cute babies, all quite unfazed by their human visitors. Hang onto your sandwiches! If you're feeling energetic, climb the 365 steps up the eastern slope of the hill; or for a more restful journey, a handy car park just at the foot of the stupa complex will save you some calf strain. Then make your three circumambulations around the great stupa, a chance to put your karma in good stead while also enjoying the magnificent architecture and views from the holy place. And don't forget to bring a packet of Oreos for those monkeys!