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The Legend of the Swayambhu Light

There are many myths and legends that surround the people of Nepal and their cultures as well as many of the physical features of the country as a whole. Nevertheless, there is one particular legend that is of great interest to us, based on the many travels of Bodhisattva Manjusri, a disciple of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. According to the tale it all begins with the discovery of Swayambhu or when translated, “the self-existent”.

As he made his way through a period of enlightenment and exploration Bodhisattva Manjusri made an amazing discovery. Lying in the centre of the lake known as ‘Kalidaha’ was a delicate lotus flower in all its brilliance. With much haste he cut into a hill facing to the south and drained the waters so as to worship the lotus, which was referred to as Swayambhu's Light. It was from there that people began to settle along the lake's bed, thus it was named Kathmandu Valley. As time passed so Swayambhu’s light was enclosed, for few could bear its strength. Thus by the 13th century countless layers were added in order to envelope the ‘lords power’ and so a dome-like shape has been acquired, forming an impressive hill.

To this day the hilltop of the ‘Self Existent Lord’ has been regarded as a sacred and holy resting place and is surrounded by temples built in honor of the Swayambhu's Light. Inside these structures you will find aged but important deities from both the Buddhist and Hindu heritage, living in harmony. Much of this can be observed by the diversity of religious worshippers who attend this ancient site on a yearly pilgrimage. They range from the Newar nuns and Brahmin priests, to Tibetan monks, lay Buddhists and Hindus, as well as the people of the world who stand for love and peace. Swayanbhu is a primary landmark in the valley below the Nagarjun hill providing an awesome view of the Kathmandu Valley.

Just behind this sacred hill lies a temple in memory of the Great Manjusri of Saraswati ,the goddess dedicated to learning. Much of the culture and natural heritage belonging to this hill is regarded with great value and prominence to the local people. However, there is no direct proof of its actual authenticity due to a lack of archaeological and historical evidence to prove the legend as otherwise. So until then may the legend of the Swayambhu carry on as it has for so long.


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