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Travel Photography | Destination: Nepal | Swayambhunath Stupa (The Monkey Temple), Kathmandu

Swayambhunath Stupa (The Monkey Temple)

 

Swayambhunath, is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples.  Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. From Thamel, it cost about Rs400 one way with tiny taxi ride. When you ride this kind of taxi, please don’t expect they will use the main road. When we use the taxi back in 2012, I felt like I was playing game which we run away from getting caught and there is an urgency to use your skills to go back side of the building passing local market, shops, residence area, temple, shops, and another temple and then the driver said, “Sir, this is Swayambhunath Stupa”. 

“I think we were scammed, there is no temple here”. But thats before we see a staircase leading to the temple. The entrance is Rs200 per person.

Federation of Swayambhu Management Conservation Ticket

 

Steps to Swayambhunath Temple, the point where you have to buy the conservation ticket & take your long breath. You don’t want to know how far is it from the bottom

 

I found this quote to express the experience climbing these steps:

We were breathless and sweating as we stumbled up the last steep steps and practically fell upon the biggest vajra (thunder-bolt scepter) that I have ever seen.” – Allione, Women Of Wisdom. 

Well this is true enough, one of our member even vomiting just about 5 minutes after reaching to the top.

A monk circling the Stupa

 

 

For the Buddhist Newars in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice, Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudhanath.

 

Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist (Vajrayana) and Hindu pilgrims ascend the 365 steps from eastern side that lead up the hill

There are carvings of the Panch Buddhas (five Buddhas) on each of the four sides of stupa.

Tibetan Praying Wheels

 

Visitor enjoying spectacular viewing of Kathmandu

Praying Candles

Praying Candles

Praying Candles

A women lost in her own world reading newspaper, neglecting people passing by or even being photographed

Portrait of women at Swayambhunath Stupa

Portrait of women at Swayambhunath Stupa

 

 

These set of images was taken during my first visit in 2012 and my recent 2014.

Thank you for your time viewing this post.

 

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Travel Photography With Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Destination: Nepal | Boudhanath Stupa

If you happened in Kathmandu and you have nothing in your plan for that day, I will suggest a visit to Boudhanath Stupa. The largest stupa in Nepal, ranked no. 3 interesting places to visit in Kathmandu written in Lonely Planet Travel Guide Book.

Located about 7km of east of the downtown Kathmandu, if you from Thamel, Kathmandu’s tourist spot, it cost you about Rs350 (in 2012) per way with a small, cramped sized taxi. It took about 15-20 minutes to reach here. Entrance fees applied at the gate with the cost of Rs150 per person.

Boudhanath Stupa Entrance Ticket

Boudhanath is both an eye of calm within capital’s dusty pandemonium and a sancutary of Tibetan Buddhist culture amid a nation dominated by Nepal Hindus. Throughout its narrow streets, you can see posters of smiling Dalai Lama, Tibetan folk-medicine stores, traditional artisans’ workshops, and restaurants. It has been announced as World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1979. Buddhists walk around the sacred monuments clockwise, the same direction a prayer wheel spins. The monasteries near the stupa have become a global centre of Tibetan Buddhism.

Prayers at Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa With Golden Layer At The Edge Of The Horizon

If you planned to make a visit, I suggest to go here arround 3-5pm. If you come earlier, the you will have all the time for visit all the shops inside, of have a cup of coffee or two at one of the roof top cafe surrounding the big stupa. I’m suggesting to visit at that time so that we are can target for the sunset and the blue hour. Well I don’t really mean that sunset but to have Boudhanath with nice golden layer at the edge of the horizon. During blue hour, when they started to lid the prayer candles and put it around the stupa is something not to be missed too. I didn’t manage to wait until all prayer candles fully completed arranged around the stupa, but for now, that will be in my “must-have” list on my next visit.

Boudhanath Stupa

A Lady Preparing Prayer Candles And Boudhanath Stupa

View From One Of Monastery Around Boudhanath

Prayer Candles getting lined up arround Boudhanath Stupa

Faces Of Nepal

It’s been almost 3 weeks after returning from our travel photography trip at Kathmandu. Back at home, I’d spent most of my time with my beloved family rather than looking or examining all photos taken during the trip. Just taking my time for a quick editing & upload to my flickr account so they will be ready when I’m about to write something in my blog. I’m using lightroom through my entire workflow until the selected photos uploaded in my flickr account with its provided publish service. Maybe I will share some tips about publishing photos to flickr via lightroom in another post.

In November 2012, when I first travel to Nepal, I have already taken what I call “established” photo. With those “established” photo already in hand, I’m now put more effort to get portraits. A portrait with permission, not just a candid. This is where our communication skill get tested, it really pumped up my adrenaline most of the time simply because of just asking a stranger whether it’s okay to take photo of them. For most of you, maybe this is just an easy task but you got to believe me that it really hard on me. Maybe it really hurts me when I get rejected, feeling of upset and stressful moment when you really found someone with the characteristic features you wanted but refused to be photographed. I’m using Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm lens, it means I will shoot just about 3-4 feet away from them just to get their portrait, I know they will feel awkward but this is where “trust” plays its role. When we get trusted, there is a good possibility that they will accept your request.

Below are portrait series of Nepal (Kathmandu – Nagarkot – Bhaktapur – Pokhara)

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Sarangkot – Pokhara | Fujifilm X-Pro1

Portrait of lady above was taken when we about to leave from Sarangkot after spending 3-4 hours for the sunrise viewing. We were the last group leaving Sarangkot that morning. While waiting for our friends at our meeting point, I see this lady inside her shop. So i made some contact with her, investing few rupee for a bottle of Coke. I can’t deny the lighting that moment, and I said to myself, the worst thing I could get is just a rejection. Suddenly I speak before my mind even made decision yet, can I photograph you? She nodded.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Bhaktapur | Fujifilm X100

The Smoking man is Mr. Bhubanashur, 60 years old and a Newari Hindu. We met at Bhaktapur while I’m waiting for my phone sim to get activated, I don’t expect the activation of new number will cost such amount of time. This guy, his is selling CDs of Nepal Traditional Music. He looks approachable to me, so I made my move to start a conversation. We talked about 5 minutes and he started to light up his cigarette and you know whats next.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Bhaktapur | Fujifilm X-Pro1

A guy with nice blue fleece. The are about 3 mens were talking when we passed by, then one of the member asking where we come from, knowing that we all come from Malaysia, he spoke Malay with us and sharing some of his work experiences in Malaysia not long ago. My eyes actually fixed to his friend with blue fleece. I told him how good looking he was with that fleece and made a request for taking his portrait.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Tibetan Refugee Camp – Pokhara | Fujifilm X-Pro1

61 years old Tibetan Lady at Tashi Palkhiel. She is one of the villager selling tibetan handicraft near the Tibetan Refugee Camp. I bought few pieces of “friendship bracelet” and ask for a quick portrait shoot before leaving. 

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Nagarkot | Fujifilm X-Pro1

This beautiful girl above is Ms. Barsha, a 17 years old Tamang living at Nagarkot. She study in a boarding school somewhere in Kathmandu. That day, is a special day for Tamang which Lhosar Festival was celebrated. Actually, this shooting location is not in our list of destination that day, but as we passed by the village, I asked our driver to stop after seeing so many village gathering like having some kind of celebration. I have never regret of stopping by this village.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Swayambhunath – Kathmandu

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Swayambhunath – Kathmandu | Fujifim X-Pro1

I took these two ladies photo at Swayambhunath Stupa or also known as The Monkey Temple. There were about 5-6 ladies in the same spot, when I was following my friend Wazari Wazir. I’m grateful he made his move communicating with them, a short warming up session and I took this opportunity to photograph some of them.

As he wrote in his blog:

“I simply could not resist photographing them, the light was so wonderful. I’m sure, I  will be haunted by this moment if I didn’t get the shot, well, at least I should try to ask them. Photographing strangers, isn’t easy, nobody ever said it was” – Wazari Wazir (read more here)

He did mention too about his experience being rejected after asking permission to take someone’s portrait, getting “NO” is not the real big thing but thats what keeping us to explore more and take it as challenge to make a portrait of a stranger. Follow your heart, your instinct are telling you something. You need to trust yourself first to be trusted.

“A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. Like a wood fire in a room, photographs – especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past – are incitements to reverie.” – Susan Sontag

Tashi Palkhiel – Tibetan Refugee Camp at Pokhara (Portrait Series)

Tashi Palkhiel, is a Tibetan refugee settlement which established year 1965. Located about 25 minutes driver from Riverside Pokhara, Nepal.  Jangchub Choeling monastery is one of the main landmark near it. The Settlement of about 800 Tibetan at this camp is now running Traditional Tibetan Carpet, which was 1 of the 4 original Tibetan carpet production centre that was established in 1964 in Nepal. Below is the portrait series of women that i met at the Tibetan Carpet weaving industry.



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Hotel Potala, Thangsyap Village, Nepal

Pengusaha penginapan berketurunan Tibet sedang memasak untuk hidangan sarapan pagi di rumah tumpangan milik mereka di “Thangsyap Village”, Nepal pada suatu pagi yang dingin berbekalkan stok makanan yang terhad. Selain kayu api, najis Yak yang telah dikeringkan juga turut digunakan sebagai sumber bahan api.

Hotel Potala merupakan salah sebuah tempat penginapan yang disediakan di Thangsyap Village. Ia merupakan salah sebuah tempat penginapan buat pengunjung sebelum meneruskan perjalanan ke Langtang Village dan Kyanji Gompa selepas seharian merentas hutan di banjaran Himalaya, Daerah Resuwa, Nepal.

Hotel ini penyediakan kemudahan asas seperti tempat tidur dan tandas. Bekalan elektrik yang terhad pada masa-masa tertentu menyebabkan pengunjung berada dalam kegelapan pada waktu malam. Setiap bilik hanya dibekalkan dengan sebatang lilin. Perkhidmatan sewaan selimut tebal juga disediakan bagi pengunjung yang tidak selesa dengan suasana suhu sejuk yang boleh mencecah sehingga -11°c pada waktu malam. Pengunjung boleh makan di ruangan yang disediakan seolah-olah sebuah restoran dengan pilihan makanan berdasarkan menu yang disediakan. Di ruang inilah biasanya pengunjung akan berkesempatan untuk berinteraksi dengan pengunjung lain, pemandu pelancong (malim gunung), dan “porter” selepas makan malam kerana hanya ruangan ini disediakan pendiang (Fireplace) kayu api untuk memanaskan badan.  Rungan ini akan bertukar menjadi bilik tidur bagi keluarga ini selepas semua pengunjung masing-masing berada di bilik mereka.

Selain penginapan, mereka juga memiliki 2 ekor kuda yang boleh disewa oleh pengunjung yang mengalami kecederaan otot atau ingin merasai pengalaman menaiki kuda di sana.

Soft Silence Morning In Nepal

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” 

Marcus Aurelius

Swayambhunath Stupa, Katmandu, Nepal

After we had our first lunch on Day 1, we decided to go Swayambhunath Stupa after suggested by Wazari Wazir. The cost to Swayambhutnath Stupa from Annapurna Guesthouse is arround 300 rupee.

Swayambhunath Stupa  is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. It is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’ for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, there is something painted which looks like the nose – but is the Nepali symbol of ‘unity’, in the main Nepali language dialect. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long stairway, claimed to have 365 steps, leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the southwest entrance. The entrance fee for tourist is 200 rupee.

Part of 365 Steps to the Syayambhunath Stupa | Photo taken near the ticket counter

Swayambhunath Stupa also known as Monkey Temple

Tibetan Praying Wheel at Swayambhunath Stupa

Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist (Vajrayana) and Hindu pilgrims ascend the 365 steps from eastern side that lead up the hill, passing the gilded Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa.

Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu

Shops & hostel at Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhunath Stupa & a monk

Swayambhunath Stupa at dusk

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

It was Day 9 of our amazing journey at Nepal. We leave Syafru Bensi early in the morning and reach back at Kathmandu around 2pm. After we had our lunch, we decided to go to Boudhanath Stupa as suggested by Wazari Wazir.

“Boudhanath (Devnagari: बौद्धनाथ) (also called BoudhaBouddhanath or Baudhanath or the Khāsa Caitya) is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu(Yambu), Nepal. It is known as Khāsti in Nepal Bhasa Jyarung Khasyor in Tamang language or as Bauddha by modern speakers of Nepali.[1] Located about 11 km (6.8 mi) from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.[2]

The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with Swayambhunath, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area.

The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu in the northeast corner, passes by Boudnath Stupa to the ancient and smaller stupa of Cā-bahī (often called ‘Little Boudnath’). It then turns directly south, heading over the Bagmati river to Patan – thus bypassing the main city of Kathmandu (which was a later foundation).[1] Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Bouddhanath. The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha.” – Wikipedia

Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa

Lady at praying Boudhanath Stupa

Lady at Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa

 

“To Travel Is To Discover That Everyone Is Wrong About Other Countries” – Aldous Huxley

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