Swayambhunath with the important stūpa of Bodnath in the east, is one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. It is located on a hill west of Kathmandu overlooking the city.

Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple because there are saints living in the northwestern parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and erudition, raised the hill on which the stupa rests. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he grew it and the head lice grew. It is said that head lice have turned into these monkeys.