Budhanilkantha Temple, located in Budhanilkantha, Nepal is a Hindu open-air temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Located at the foot of the Shivapuri hills in the northern-most part of Kathmandu Valley, Budhanilkantha is about 8 km from the city. The largest stone statue of Lord Vishnu in Nepal, it shows him reclining on a bed of Nagas or serpents in the middle of a small pond. A priest is usually in attendance at the foot of the image to receive offerings from devotees.
The Temple of Budhanilkantha is also known as the Temple of Narayanthan. The statue symbolizes Lord Vishnu, who along with Brahma and Shiva is considered one of the ‘Trimurtis.’
The remarkably intricate artwork that went into sculpting this magnificent 5th century stone image of the sleeping Vishnu is worth a close look. The 5m long granite image carved out of a single rock dates back to the Lichhavi period. The principal statue is a black stone frame built from a single black basalt base. The monument stands 5 meters tall (about 16.4 feet) and is positioned in the center of a recessed water pool which is 13 meters deep.
It shows the god reclining on the divine serpent, Shesha’s coils. He keeps in his four hands the Sudarshana Chakra, a Conch Shell, a club, and a gem.
He is well crowned with a crown decorated with several pictures of Kirtimukha and can also be seen alternating with a silver crown. A priest attends typically to accept offerings from devotees at the foot of the painting.
The Budhanilkantha Temple is a place of religious significance for followers of both Hinduism and Buddhism and is regarded as a perfect example of religious harmony.
The Lichhavis ruled the valley before being ousted by the Malla dynasty, who in turn were conquered by King Prithvi Narayan Shah. You could combine the trip with a visit to the Shivapuri National Park further up, provided you are up for a hike.
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The legend behind this temple
According to folklore, a farmer was working on his field one day when his plough struck a boulder, and to his surprise and alarm, blood started oozing out of the cut in the stone. Upon digging around the huge boulder, he unearthed the magnificent image of the reclining Vishnu that had remained buried in the ground.
How can we reach the Budhanilkantha temple?
There are many buses and vans providing transport from central Kathmandu, but you could also bike all the way to Budhanilkantha, or hire a taxi.
Belief related to Monarchy of Nepal
A legend states that there was a prophetic vision of King Pratap Malla (1641–1674). That vision led him to believe that if they visited the Budhanilkantha Temple, the kings of Nepal would die.
Nepali monarchs have never visited the temple in fear of prophecy, after King Pratap Malla.
Important Festivals Celebrated in Budhanilkantha Temple
The Budhanilkantha Temple has been the location where on the 11th day of the Hindu month of Kartika (October – November) Haribondhini Ekadashi Mela is conducted. It is attended by thousands of pilgrims and is the main festival of the temple in celebration of Lord Vishnu’s awakening from his long sleep.
Some interesting facts about the mesmerizing sculpture of the Budhanilakantha Temple:
1) Budhanilakantha is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Old Blue Throat’, a title of Lord Shiva that was given by gods after the Lord drank poison to save the world.
2) The temple houses the country’s largest and most beautiful stone-carved idol of Lord Vishnu believed to have been made with a single block of black basalt stone of unknown origin
3) The sculpture is 5 meters long and lies in a resting position in a 13-meter long pond also called as a ‘cosmic sea’
4) Vishnu idol in the lake was believed to have been built during the reign of the 7th-century monarch Vishnugupta, who controlled the Kathmandu valley, 1400 years ago
5) Records also show that the temple has been rediscovered later during the early Malla Dynasty period by a farmer and his wife
6) The water in Budhanilakantha is believed to have originated from Gosainkund, a lake formed as a result of Lord Shiva’s trident striking with the mountainside
7) Local legend describes the existence of the mirror-like image of Lord Shiva on the statue’s underside
8) The Lord Vishnu statue shares feature similar to that of Lord Buddha
9) Thousands of pilgrims visit the temple during Haribondhini Ekadashi that is held during the 11th day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October – November), every year
10) A big fair is also held at Budhanilkantha every year on the auspicious days of Ekadashis, Harishayani and Haribodhini, marking the 4-month sleeping period of Lord Vishnu as believed by Hindus