18th.Oct.18 Kathmandu 2
The day before had been another travelling day from Pokara to Kathmandu. Although we were only in a minibus we still started 90 min. late because it had been waiting for a delayed flight for its previous appointment. However once we started all went very well compared to when I was on the same route in April. It was a holiday day, I think comparable with our Christmas and there were no lorries on the road. Also the roadworks seemed to have finished or at least stopped. Despite this we were still too late to visit Swayambhunath straight away. I think we would have been too tired anyway, so it was better the next morning.
Some of us walked into town for an evening meal but it was quite a way and it might have been better to eat in the hotel. The hotel was quite old and built in a rustical style. The rooms round courtyards each had narrow double dark wooden doors and small windows. It apparently used to belong to a branch of the Nepalese royal family.
There were lots of people at Swayambhunath which added to the festive atmosphere, but it was nevertheless not too crowed. It is one of the major Buddhist shrines with a great Stupa with eyes on a small hill on the edge of the city. I remembered it quite well from long ago but we did not visit it in April of this year which I had thought a pity. There are lots of monkeys cavorting about and you have to watch out for them.
We then transferred to Thamel the tourist centre of the city and had an hour free for shopping. After lunch with the guide we rushed rather quickly through the vegetable market and back to the hotel. Then we went to Boudhnath where I had also been in April, see Boudhnath, which is the place of the other Stupa with eyes for a farewell dinner with the guide.
A golden spire crowning a conical wooded hill, Swayambhunath Stupa is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. Its lofty white dome and glittering golden spire are visible for many miles and from all sides of the valley. Historical records found on a stone inscription give evidence that the stupa was already an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination by the 5th century AD. Its origins however, date to a much earlier time, long before the arrival of Buddhism into the valley. A collection of legends about the site, the 15th century Swayambhu Purana, tells of a miraculous lotus, planted by a past Buddha, which blossomed from the lake that once covered Kathmandu valley. The lotus mysteriously radiated a brilliant light, and the name of the place came to be Swayambhu, meaning ‘Self-Created or Self-Existent’. Saints, sages and divinities traveled to the lake to venerate this miraculous light for its power in granting enlightenment. During this time, the Bodhisatva Manjushri was meditating at the sacred mountain of Wu Tai Shan and had a vision of the dazzling Swayambhu light. Manjushri flew across the mountains of China and Tibet upon his blue lion to worship the lotus. Deeply impressed by the power of the radiant light, Manjushri felt that if the water were drained out of the lake Swayambhu would become more easily accessible to human pilgrims. With a great sword Manjushri cut a gorge in the mountains surrounding the lake. The water, draining away, left the valley of present day Kathmandu. The lotus was then transformed into a hill and the light became the Swayambhunath Stupa.