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The Temples of Kathmandu – part 2…………

October 22, 2009

Yesterday, I wrote about the Pashupati Temple in Kathmandu. If you have nothing but time on your hands today, you can read that post here.

If you are new here, I’ll catch you up. Last weekend, my family went to visit Kathmandu in Nepal. We saw Mt. Everest from the comfort of an airplane seat and soaked in the markets. It was an amazing experience! Today, I am going to continue to share our trip with you and today’s post will be about more of the temples we saw.

I have gotten a lot of positive feedback (thanks guys) from my last few posts and what I really want to say is – if you can ever go to Kathmandu – go. Go. GO. Go! Kathmandu really surprised me. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. And it hit me right in the soul. I have really had a hard time explaining why. It is a magical place. Really and truly magical.

There was such beauty in the tangible manifestation of prayer – the fact that something lingers even after the prayer has been answered or denied. Stunning. It is also humbling to see just how many worries are out there in the world. We are certainly not alone in our request for help and guidance. We all need it sometimes. I wonder how many of the flags represent prayers that have long gone out of consideration. Worries that are no longer worrisome.

It helps to put our concerns into perspective about what to really focus on. I know that if I had to put a permanent mark on the world for all of the prayers I have offered, there would have been far fewer of them. That truly helps define what really deserves our energy. I felt so lucky to currently just have global prayers like health for the world and peace for the world and nothing really immediately personal. I always pray for people who are alone in the world and anyone who is struggling in any way – so I included them. But my own heartache is simply being away from home – that can absolutely feel overwhelming at times – but going to Nepal was perspective changing. The sadness of being away from family and dear friends is lessened ever-so-slightly (and effectively) by the experiences my immediate family is sharing together. We only wish our friends and family were here with us.

The second temple we visited was the Bouddhanath Stupa. It is a Buddhist Temple. And it was the first place I had ever seen prayer flags and the prayer wheels. If you want to get a 360 degree view of the stupa, click here.

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There does not seem to be a clear understanding of who built this stupa and several different versions of its beginnings are offered. They are all very different and not seemingly connected. So, I won’t try to turn this into a history lesson.

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The walkway around the stupa forms a circle. Number One Hubby and I agreed that the “town” surrounding the temple felt very European. Of course the walkway is lined with merchants selling trekking gear and souvenirs.

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There are four sets of eyes on the temple. One set facing each direction. It is my understanding that they represent the fact that we are always being watched over for protection and that they watch for assurances that we are doing our best. They are the eyes of wisdom and compassion. Kind of brings new meaning to the mother’s claim that she has eyes in the back of her head. 😎

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This prayer wheel stood from floor to ceiling. It was massive. And there was a bell on it that rang every time it made a complete rotation. It was humbling to stand before it. Really, what kind of prayer calls for a wheel this big? I cannot imagine how heavy a heart must be with angst to call upon this wheel.

Then we went to the Swayambhunath Temple. It is also known as the monkey temple. There are monkeys everywhere! Both Buddhists and Hindus worship here.

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This is the world peace pond that greets you when you enter the site.

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When you come from a country that is just over 200 years old, it is amazing to see structures that have
lasted through so many generations. This temple is believed to have been created in the 5th century.

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There are prayer flags strewn all throughout the temples in Kathmandu. They are magnificent.

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The Tibetan name for this temple means Sublime Trees because it sits on the mountain side and is surrounding by a great number of different trees. The tree below is my favorite – it is a broken tree in the middle of such splendor and still it stands out with its own beauty. Maybe there is hope for me yet. 😎

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This temple is believed to be the most sacred of Buddhist pilgrimage sites. There is a stupa on the site and various shrines and temples. A Tibetan monastery, museum, and a library are more recent additions to the compound. Much of the symbolism at the site comes from the Vajrayana tradition of Newar Buddhism, but Buddhists of all schools find the site important. Many Hindus also revere the complex as well and come here to worship.

Swayambhunath, is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. According to the Gopālarājavaṃśāvalī Swayambhunath was founded by the great-grandfather of King Mānadeva (464-505 CE), King Vṛsadeva, about the beginning of the 5th century CE. This seems to be confirmed by a damaged stone inscription found at the site, which indicates that King Mānadeva ordered work done in 640 CE.

The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (represented by eyes of wisdom and compassion) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state a bit higher. The thirteen pinacles on the top of it symbolises that sensient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of enlightenment to reach Buddhahood.

On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes which represent Wisdom and Compassion. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. Saying goes that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which acts as message to heavenly beings, so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha’s teaching, however, the cosmic ray relieves their suffering when Buddha preaches. (Thanks again Wikipedia)

Okay, this one is getting l.o.n.g. too. So, I’ll check out for now. I will just leave you with this view of Kathmandu from the temple.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2009 3:20 pm

    What an amazing experience! I learn so much when I stop by. Love the pics, girl!!

  2. October 23, 2009 5:47 pm

    I can only imagine what a humbling experience it must have been. Beautiful.

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