Last April I went to Nepal. The morning of my first day, I went to Swayambhunath (the monkey temple). It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kathmandu and also an actively used place of worship. I went soon after dawn, so that I had the rest of the day ahead of me. This proved a good idea, as there were very few tourists when I arrived, mostly people praying. The photo above was taken after I had been there a while and you can see lots of other tourists have arrived. I really enjoyed getting there before everyone else as I got to see a lot more of the how the temple is used. At the same time, I did feel a bit intrusive walking around with my camera. I avoided taking pictures of people and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible – I also had to remember to walk clockwise around everything!!
The architecture and buildings were a massive draw for visiting. I had never been further east than Abu Dhabi before and the styles of building in Nepal are so different from anywhere else I had been. You can see from the photos it was very pretty BUT…. the most interesting part were the Rhesus Macaques which inhabit the temple.
They have the complete run of the temple complex and can be found all over the place. Because of this, you could get pretty much as close as you wanted – although I was very wary of the teeth.
What I really liked was the characteristics you could see in all the different individuals. So many of them had features which defined them from the pack, like the one above with the damaged eye. This one seemed to be a lot calmer being near people than some of the others, which would get a bit restless if there were too many people around. I can imagine that studying them long-term would reveal a really complex picture of interactions between the macaques themselves and between humans and macaques.
The photo above reminds me of ‘youths’ hanging around on streets, what with the concrete surroundings and a look of intent.
This photo makes me smile, because you can build this grand temple incorporating all the wealth and labour you can muster, but monkeys will still come and sit on it like it is a pile of rocks:
Obviously the monkeys needed a place to swim!
I saw the macaque below looking out over the city in the valley below. Unfortunately, I got too close for the photo and he(?) turned round and confronted me. After a brief stand-off, where he faked lunging at me a couple of times, I took a few steps back, took my photo and left him alone.
You can see photos of monkeys smoking and praying at the temple in some of my other posts. I would have stayed longer but it began to get very busy with people and then began absolutely tipping it down, so I left!