The Monkey Temple, formally known as Swayambhunath, is another big attraction in Kathmandu. It dates back to the 5th century CE, and is one of the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Along the way, it picked up the nickname of “Monkey Temple” because it’s overrun with monkeys (and it’s easier to say).
We first went to a place with huge golden Buddha statues, which we saw from the main road and assumed was the monkey temple.
Behind it was a room where people were making and lighting prayer candles:
It only took us about 5 minutes to walk around the whole thing, and we encountered a few monkeys, but not many. We did see this wonderfully sassy statue of a miniature Buddha, but was that it?
Thankfully, no. We walked around the hill to see if there was a way to get to the top, and came across a promising path.
That led up a massive temple complex, with shops, cafes, winding paths, and stretches of open space almost covered by rows and rows of prayer flags. Now THIS was the Monkey Temple.
With more monkeys, as expected.
On one side, I found a cafe with the smallest crack of a door, just visible in a corner between two shops.
It led to a rooftop with possibly the best panoramic view in all of Kathmandu:
And on the other side, we found a wedding photo shoot, a karate class, and little monks throwing dough balls at monkeys:
This is another one of those magical places that you can spend leisurely evenings exploring and come back to again and again. Glad we stumbled upon the real thing on the other side of the hill!