It’s no wonder why they nicknamed Swayambhunath Temple in downtown Kathmandu the temple of monkeys.
It was prevalent as they hopped from statue to statue, squabbled amongst themselves and snatched anything shiny from the travelers passing through.
In a way, they reminded me of Abu from Disney’s classic movie Aladdin; just barely making ends meet and taking anything shiny that peaked their interest.
It was almost comical too…but I didn’t dare make eye contact with them as I ascended the steep stairs leading to the top of the mountain where the main temple was based.
Along the way, monkeys perched themselves atop a variety of different Buddha statues and ledges, cleaning themselves while lying around lazily. Yup, I definitely made it to the Monkey Temple of Nepal.
The Monkey Temple of Swayambhunath
Similar to the Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai, the stairs leading up were rather steep but, when you took your time, the climb wasn’t too strenuous. Your mind is easily distracted with ancient architecture, locals selling a variety of different items and, of course, the plethora of monkeys running around.
Surprisingly, there were even a few dogs who got along with the other wildlife who also lied lazily in precarious places, sniffing around for scraps of food that could be salvaged.
Once we reached the top of the stairs, we paid a small ticket price or 200 RPS ($3.26 USD) to enter the temple. From there, we found more statues, tables of souvenirs and other objects working alongside the many monkeys.
Call me typical, but I think what I enjoyed most was not only the monkeys (although this was a huge characteristic of the location) but mostly how intricate the designs were on all of the statues, stupas, and bells.
Similar to the temples I found in Thailand, I’ve always found Asian culture fascinating. This goes even more so for the Nepalese language.
To my surprise, there was even a small cafe at the top sitting alongside the Stupa itself with a spectacular view of the city as well as the surrounding rainforest. It was good to see that, unlike the weathered and aged statues outside, the upkeep for the shrine inside was well kept and had a freshly lain coat of paint to keep it shining beautifully.
Stepping back outside the interior doors, I continued taking in the view as well as the fascinating statues. Prayer flags were strewn across different parts while the dogs & monkeys continued to lye around lazily.
At the end of the tour, I took in one last final view of the main golden stupa and made my way down the stairs. Visiting the fabulous Swayambhunath Temple was definitely worth the climb up, just remember that if you decide to visit keep a wary eye out for frisky monkeys! 🙂
Have you ever had a close encounter with a monkey?