Natural History Museum
Below Swayambhunath, on the road to the tourist bus park, this neglected museum offers a faded but quirky collection of exhibits,...
If you follow either path leading west from the main stupa, you will reach a smaller stupa near the car park for tourist buses. Just...
At the top of the eastern stairway is an enormous, brass-plated dorje (thunderbolt), one of the core symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. Known...
Didi’s Tibetan Tea Shop
If you need a break, you can grab a reviving cup of chiya (milk tea) at the hole-in-the-wall Didi’s Tibetan Tea Shop
Cafe De Stupa
You can get lunch at tourist-oriented Cafe De Stupa .
National Museum information
Lonely Planet review
Around 800m south of Swayambhunath at Chhauni, the walled compound here looks a little moth-eaten and overgrown, but there are some interesting treasures on display and the museum is never crowded.
As you enter the compound, turn left to reach the Judda Art Gallery , which contains some exquisite stone, metal and terracotta statues of Nepali deities and fabulous paubha cloth paintings. Look out for the 1800-year-old life-sized statue of standing Jayavarma, only discovered in 1992, as well as the statue of buffalo-headed Sukhavara Samvara with 34 arms, 16 feet and 10 faces! You can climb to the top of the mandala-shaped building for great views of Swayambhunath, but watch your footing as there are no guard rails.
At the back of the compound is the temple-style Buddhist Art Gallery . As well as Buddhist statues, votive objects, thangkas and manuscripts as big as coffee tables, there are some informative displays on mandalas (geometric Buddhist diagrams). A highlight here is the eighth-century stone depiction of the birth of Buddha, showing Queen Maya holding onto the branch of a tree.
To the north of the main compound, housed in a handsome Rana-era palace, is the Historical Museum , which displays a blood-thirsty collection of weapons, including the personal kukris (daggers), katars (punch-daggers), tulwars (curved swords) and khandas (hatchet swords) of such national heroes as Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of Nepal. Note the leather cannon seized in the 1792 Nepal-Tibet War.
In the same building, the Natural History Museum displays stuffed animals and old bones, including, bizarrely for this landlocked location, the jaws of a whale. Upstairs are the rather matter-of-fact Numismatic and Philatelic Museums.
Ticket sales stop an hour before closing time; bags must be left in the free lockers at the gate.