Syambhunath Stupa

Located on a lovely hillock 4 km west of central Kathmandu, it is one of the holiest Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal. It is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than 2,000 years ago. This stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises. There are 360 steps leading all the way to the top commanding a magnificent view of Kathmandu valley.

Syambhunath 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 direction. The tradition in the Stupa follows Vajrayana form of Buddhism which is a tantric variation of Mahayana Buddhism.

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 of enlightenment. The thirteen pinnacles on the top symbolize that sentient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of spiritual realizations to reach enlightenment or Buddhahood.

There are carvings of the Panch Buddhas (five Buddhas) on each of the four sides of stupa. There are also statues of the Buddhas at the base of the stupas. Panch Buddhas are Buddha in metaphorical sense in Tantrayana. They are Vairochana (occupies the center and is the master of the temple), Akshobhya (faces the east and represents the cosmic element of consciousness), Ratna Sambhava (faces the south and represents the cosmic element of sensation), Amitabha (He represents cosmic element of Sanjna (name) and always faces the West) and Amoghsiddhi (He represents the cosmic element of conformation and faces the north).

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