Temple, flags, and monkeys

Swayambhunath Stupa

The temple, among tourists known as “Monkey Temple” is a significant pilgrimage site among Buddhists, and also one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kathmandu.

Swayambhunath Stupa is located on a hillock in the Katmandu Valley in a complex of temples, shrines, a monastery, library, and even a museum. While Buddist pilgrims meditate or pray, tourists can purchase souvenirs, enjoy the panoramic view of the city, and capture it in the pictures. Four big pairs of eyes – every pair on every side of the main stupa (a place of meditation), called Wisdom Eyes, watch the site, foothill, and the valley. Mantras and prayers fill the air, souls of visitors, and create a meditative mood.

Prayer flags, colorful rectangular clots blow in the breeze. They adorn surroundings, grace and bless the nature, the people, every element of earth.

The flags always come in a particular order as they represent five elements of Buddhism. They are arranged from left to right: blue, white, red, green, and yellow. The colors represent (in the order): sky (and space), air and wind, fire, water, and the earth.

As Swayambhunath Stupa is known as Monkey Temple there have to be monkeys involved in a story. 😉 They’re around and most of the time they friendly ignore the visitors. But not always, as you may guess…

At the top of the hill I, unwillingly, got involved in a little scuffle with a monkey. While I was talking to my friend a monkey was trying to steal my mobile phone that was set on a tripod-like selfie stick for us to take a photo.

The big monkey (together with small monkeys) wandered around and my possessions simply got their attention. It didn’t matter that tall human beings were around. They came over and just hung out next to my things carelessly left on a base of a statue.

Red alert started in my head. Firstly I grabbed my backpack. I could lose everything but not my documents. I asked my friend to take my iPhone. She deftly did so, so the only thing left was my jacket.

“I could live without my jacket” I thought, but decided to grab it anyways. While I was doing it, the big monkey jumped on me. I froze shocked.

Luckily, the monkey didn’t attempt to hurt me. He jumped on me, I jumped back, they walked away and I didn’t lost a thing.

After enjoying the stupa experience, and the view from the top we made our way down the stairs — time for the last photo.

And that was where the monkeys attempted to steal my stuff one more time. They caught me by surprise. My sunglasses were they trophy but nothing more than that. As a matter of fact, I was the one who would use a pair of shades, not monkeys, however, I was also the one who wasn’t the best wrestler.

to be continued


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