Monkey Temple in Kathmandu

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.

Buddha statues on the other side of the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

Behind it was a room where people were making and lighting prayer candles:

Man lighting candles at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

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?

Sassy buddha statue on the other side of the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

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.

Path up to the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

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.

Prayer flags at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

Prayer flags at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

A wood worker at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

The monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

The stupa at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

With more monkeys, as expected.

Monkeys at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

On one side, I found a cafe with the smallest crack of a door, just visible in a corner between two shops.

The narrow entrance to the rooftop cafe at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

It led to a rooftop with possibly the best panoramic view in all of Kathmandu:

The view from the rooftop cafe at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

And on the other side, we found a wedding photo shoot, a karate class, and little monks throwing dough balls at monkeys:

Little monks throwing rocks at monkeys at the monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

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!

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