3 min read

Sacred Monkeys Rule Over Temple In Nepal

The Swayambhunath Temple sits atop a very large hill in Kathmandu, Nepal, and to get there, you have to navigate a whopping 365 steps. But that's not what makes this temple unique - it's the hundreds of free-roaming sacred monkeys that traipse along the grounds. Often referred to as the "Monkey Temple," the complex's animals are considered holy by Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus, as legend has it that the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushree, was building the temple on the hill when the lice from his hair sprung forth and turned into monkeys.

Because the dense forests surrounding the temple are protected by the locals' religious beliefs, the rhesus macaque populations in Nepal have flourished. Filmmaker Devin Graham traveled to the country and filmed a day in the life of the monkeys who reside in and around the temple.

Many of the monkeys have babies who enjoy playing on the temple's prayer flags.

(YouTube: devinsupertramp)

The monkeys seem totally unperturbed by the presence of humans at the temple.

(YouTube: devinsupertramp)

Some of the monkeys take leisurely naps in the sun ...

(YouTube: devinsupertramp)

... but sometimes roughhousing is more fun.

(YouTube: devinsupertramp)

Graham's film manages to highlight the communal nature of these monkeys who have, amazingly, come to call the temple home.

(YouTube: devinsupertramp)

It is important, of course, that visitors at the temple avoid feeding or touching the monkeys. Even though these are not enforced rules and the monkeys are accustomed to humans, they are still wild animals, and it is best to enjoy them from a distance.

You can watch Graham's full video of the temple experience below: