Located on a lovely little hillock Swayambhu Nath Stupa lies about 4 km west of Kathmandu city center. There are 360 steps leading all the way to the top commanding a magnificent view of Kathmandu valley and the breath-taking panorama of the snow-clad Himalayan range. The tradition in the Stupa follows the Vajrayana form of Buddhism which is a tantric variation of the Mahayana Buddhism (the great vehicle). The stupa seem to have been founded during the Lichchavi period. Religious and literary sources give numerous accounts of the establishment and the patronage of the Swayambhunath premises. Some literary work credit the Lichchavi King Mandev to be the founder of Swayambhu Stupa. It is also interesting to note that the stupa went a series of renovation during the Malla period in the medieval times with donations made by merchants, monks, pilgrims and Buddhist followers.
As the ancient legend goes Kathmandu valley was a lake long time ago. Right in the center of this lake was a full blown lotus with the divine light atop. When Maha Manjushri a saint from China heard about this he came all the way from China to the valley. He cut through the southern wall hill of the valley with his divine sword. The cleft made by the sword immediately drained the entire lake water making the valley floor ready for habitation. Hundreds of votive shrines and other historical monuments built in and around this stupa speak a lot about the significance and antiquity of this famed stupa. The stupa of Swayambhunath stands on a typically stylized lotus mandala base. The hemispherical part of the chaitya is made of brick and stone and on top of the hemispherical part lies the hermika which carries the eyes of Vairochana watching in all the directions and believed to have been painted in the Malla Period. The stupa is also laden with the 13 gold plated spires which symbolize the 13 stages to salvation. The spire is crowned by a golden umbrella supported by a pole from within the center. Devotees pour lime down the chaitya to cure illness of family members.
Harati Temple: It is a two-tiered pagoda temple dedicated to the primal mother-Ajima who is also known as the protective deity of children. Special prayers are offered on Saturday and Tuesday.
Anantapura and Pratapaura : These two temples dedicated to Vajrayana deities were built by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century. Anantapura temple was named after his consort and both these temples represent the Shikhara style of architecture.
Bajra Dhatu Mandala: The Mandala depicts 12 animals representing the twelve months of the Tibetan year. The gilt Bajra installed by King Pratap Malla in the middle of the 17th century represents the sword Chandahasa, Vajradhatvesvari, Mamaki Tara, Ratnasambhava, Pandara, Amitabha, Tara, Amogha Siddhi and Saptalochini.
The Vairochana is represented by the eyes painted on the hermika. Amitabha is the main deity of the chaitya.
Five Elements of Life: Temples and sacred sites representing the five fundamental elements of nature are said to have been founded by Shantikar Acharya. The five elements of life represented in the premise of the Stupa are Vasupura (earth), Nagapura (serpents, the lord of water), Shantipura or Akashpura (space or sky), Vayupura (air) and Agnipura (fire).
Important Days to Visit this holy sites:
1. Buddha Purnima, the birthday of Lord Buddha which falls on the full moon day of Baishakh (april_May).
2. Gunla the holy Buddhist month according to Newari Calendar (Aug-Sept, early morning).
3. Kojagrath Purnima (sept-oct) Samyak day of the Magh(Jan-Feb) (once in every twelve years).