The second most important stupa in Kathmandu for Buddhists is the Swayambunath. Its name – Swayambhu – means “self made” or “self created”.
The legend says that once the whole valley was filled with a lake out of which grew a lotus. After having a vision of it, Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning came here to worship the flower. He found the place good for pilgrims, so he cut it, so the water could drain out of the lake and leave the place inhabitant. People settled down in the valley, grounding the Kathmandu city, the lotus has been transformed into a hill and the flower into the Stupa.
Today it is a complex of small businesses, temple, hostel, stupa, monastery, Tibetan museum and many, many, many monkeys. That´s where its another name comes from – The Monkey Temple. You can reach it from two sides – either walking up the stairs (again) or coming from the side of the Buddha Park. Entrance is 20 rupees for SAARC countries and 200 for the rest of the world. If you don´t want to pay however, go from the side of the Buddha park, before the entrance there is a small path avoiding the ticket counter. Why it is like that, no idea.
It is said that the monkeys are holy as they are supposed to come from Manjushree. He was to leave his hair short, but he let it grow long, and the head lice transformed into them. Holy or not, you should always watch out, especially when you have food on you, the monkeys literally go bananas.