Swayambhunath Stupa, Nepal. Photograph by Kurt Behrendt
«On our first day in Nepal we visited the Swayambhunath Stupa, a monument that, while founded in the fifth century to house the relics of the Buddha, has since undergone many restorations funded by the devout.» These bodily remains charge the site with the Buddha's enlightened presence, making the stupa a key place of pilgrimage in the Buddhist world. Characteristic of Nepal, the Buddha's eyes look out in the four cardinal directions, while sets of Buddhas in the plaques above show the pure lands where a worshipper can hope to be reborn. This site is famous for the many monkeys that inhabit the wooded mountain atop which this stupa presides over the Kathmandu Valley.