Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra -2012 -5



The Eastern steps leading to Swayambunath

Our next hop was on this day of  Kathmandu tour and acclimatization was to Swaymbunath stupa. This stupa is situated on a Hill west of Kathmandu and on all the four sides of the stupa   we can see eyes of Buddha,  as He  is watching  the city of  Kathmandu  from a vantage point.  Of the stupas in Kathmandu Swayambunath and Boudhanath are most impressive  and most visited monuments.   Swayambunath is also called temple of monkeys because of the battalion of monkeys on the hill. 

A small replica of Swayambunath Stupa

It is believed that Emporer  Ashoka visited this monument 2000 years ago. According to the inscriptions King Manadeva ordered construction at this site in 460 AD, by 13th century this was an important pilgrimage place, it was desecrated by Mugals,  later in 17th century  King Pratap Malla restored the stupa to its present state and also built the eastern stairway. at the beginning of the steps you have Ganesha and Murugan and also on the way you can see stone images of the birth of Buddha. At the final stretch one can see the vehicles of Dhyana Buddha namely Garudan, lions, elephants, horses and peacocks.

The beautiful pond at the base of Swayambunath 

The all - seeing Swayumbunath 

The lowest level of the stupa is the plinth, which is a square platform  on the top of the plinth is the hemispherical Kumbha  which is normally white washed. This dome represents the four elements namely earth, fire , air and water.   Immediately on the top of the dome is harmika, a square base usually painted on each side with a pair of eyes which Buddhists believe represent the all-seeing nature of the Buddha. The question mark like 'nose' is actually the Nepali number  ek (one) and is a symbol of unity. Between the two eyes you can also see the third eye of Buddha  which represent His clairvoyant powers.  On top of the harmika is a tapering section of 13 stages concentric  rings on the spire   which represent the 13  degrees of knowledge  and 13 steps  one has to  attain nirvana . At the top is  the gilt parasol which symbolises nirvana. 

Golden Parasol representing Nirvana 

 Dhyana Buddha in the niche 

Two Dhyana  Buddhas facing east

One can reach the top either by vehicle or by steps in the eastern side . The vehicle  route to the  stupa  is lined with beautiful chortens brilliantly painted and is a treat to ones eyes. Around the dome are the Dhyana Buddhas  namely  Amogasiddhi facing north  his mount is Garuda, Akshobya faces south and his mount is Elephant, Ratnasambhava faces east and his mount is Horse, Amitabha faces west  and his vehicle is Peacock. The fifth one Vairocona whose mount is Lion, he is  usually installed on the stupa and is difficult to see  but  in swayumbunath  you can see  him facing  east near to   Akshobya. 

As in Pasupathinath you can see lot of replicas of the stupa nearby may be many built these after their prayers have been fulfilled. There are also lot of shops which sell jewellery  and curios where you can pickup souvenirs. There is also a museum  where you see lot of Buddhas in all sorts of poses. 


There is a Gompa  in which this 6 ft tall gilted  image of Avalikiteshvara is installed and the service with trumpeting and chanting  everyday service is held at 4 PM  every evening. 

 Buddhists normally circumbulate the stupa clockwise , while doing so they spin  the series of  prayer wheels. Each prayer wheel carries the sacred mantra " OM  MANI PADME HUM " . The  prayer flags fluttering from the lines leading to the stupa's spire  also carry mantras and each wave in the breeze  carries the words away.

Dorje - the thunderbolt 

 The Giant bell

Pratap Malla who built the eastern stairway also  added  a pair of Shikaras and the stone lion and Dorje, which one can see immediately upon reaching the top of the stairs.  Dorje is the Tibetian word for this thunderbolt symbol in sanskrit it is Vajra. Dorjes are also accompanied by bell, the thunderbolt represents male force and the bell symbolises female wisdom. Around the pedestal supporting the  mighty Dorje are the animals of the Tibetian calender. The Dorje is flanked by two white temples in the Indian Shikara style. They are Pratapura shikara and Anantapura shikaras. They are being renovated now.  The gold plated  beautiful  pagoda style temple  is dedicated to  Hariti (Ajima) , the Goddess of  small pox.  You can also see the bronze images of Ganges and Yamuna. 

Hariti temple ( Front side)

Kani madam lighting lamp at Hariri temple

                                                           Hariti temple (Back side)

From  Swayambunath  you can have a fantastic view of the city of Kathmandu and the valley.  It's particularly striking in the early evening when the city is illuminated. It is also very attractive under the soft glow of moonlight.

Our group at Swayambunath
( you can see the beautiful view of Kathmandu in the background)

                                                                                                   The holy  yatra continues.  .   .   .   .   .    .

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