Newest Review: ... of the road and all the traffic going round it. The temple area is fascinating - there are so many in such a small area but there are l... more
Member Name: WendyMacc
Date: 09/08/00, updated on 09/08/00 (38 review reads)
Advantages: Tibetan monks
Disadvantages: the people in trance
During our first week in Kathmandu, we did manage to do some sightseeing in spite of our daily ritual of changing guest houses (four times -a trip record.) In the end, we found ourselves at the famous and very clean (but more expensive) Kathmandu Guest House, home to many world-renowned authors, journalists and mountain climbers during their stay here. We made a little pilgrimage to Swayambunath, the famous "monkey temple" on top of a hill overlooking the valley. It serves as a holy stupa to both Buddhists and Hindus alike. People of all sorts make the climb up to spin the prayer wheels and send their prayers up to heaven. Everyone is in a reverent semi-trance state chanting "om mane padme hum" while they circumnavigate the stupa clockwise, spinning the wheels, making offerings, lighting oil lamps and incense. Tibetan monks from the monastery there, wander around fingering their wooden prayer beads quietly blessing all the people and offering their own prayers. In the monastery, we spun an enormous 5 foot prayer wheel (you need a big wheel for big prayers!) While we were there, a distressed woman went into a trance state, shaking and mumbling and drawing quite a crowd. Of course meanwhile, large families of monkeys jump from rooftops to trees, overseeing it all. And what a scene it was. We sat back and watched it all for a bit, mesmerized.