Great Thunderbolt

Buddhist monument in Swayambhunath & Around


Swayambhunath & AroundKathmanduNepal


At the top of the eastern stairway is an enormous, brass-plated dorje (thunderbolt), one of the core symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. Known as the vajra in Sanskrit, the thunderbolt is a symbol of the power of enlightenment, which destroys ignorance, but is itself indestructible. In rituals the dorje is used to indicate male power, while female power is represented by a ceremonial bell.



Around the pedestal supporting the symbol are the animals of the Tibetan calendar. The plinth was formerly flanked by the Anantapura and Pratapura temples, two slender, Indian-style shikhara towers built by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century, but sadly the Anantapura temple collapsed in the 2015 earthquake. Nearby is a viewpoint and a raised area with telescopes for hire.