The Holy Budhanilkantha Temple
Deep below at the base of the Shivapuri Hill within the Kathmandu Valley on the northern end, lies the mystical Buddhanilkantha Temple, meaning “old blue-throat”, just 9 km away from the main city. It is at this location that you will find one of the three images of the deity Lord Vishnu or in full Vishnu (Narayan) Jalasayana which is regarded by the local people as the principal deity.
It is with the sacredness of this particular god that a deep-seated belief was created by King Pratap Malla through a prophetic dream. It was his strong belief and fear that should the King of Nepal visit the Buddhanilkantha temple, death would be imminent upon his departure. The two other images of the deity which were carved during the same time lie at two particular destinations: the Balaju Gardens where public viewing can take place and the beautiful Royal Palace in Kathmandu. It is here at Budhanilkantha Temple, however, that public viewing is not permitted.
The Deity of Lord Vishnu lies prominently at 5 meters in length inside a tank 13 meters long giving the impression of floating. It is thought that the Deity is approximately 1500 years old and is believed to have been sculpted during the Licchavi period, around about the 7th or 8th century. A fascinating feature of the Lord Vishnu Deity is his large frame carved out of a single block of stone, black in nature and foreign to the valley planes. When described he embodies many fascinating features and all symbolic in their own right. But it is through the four hands that you will find four symbols of Vishnu which are the: chakra or disc, conch-shell, lotus flower and the club. His legs are crossed with his sleeping body resting on the coils of Ananta: the cosmic serpent and his 11 hooded heads.
It is alleged in times past that a farmer and his wife occupied a farm in this area and while cultivating the land they struck the Deity and immediately afterwards blood began to filter from the ground and thus the lost deity of Budhanilkantha was recovered and placed in its rightful position. It is a common practice for the Hindus to walk down to Vishnu’s feet to touch them but it is forbidden for foreign visitors to do the same. Budhanilkantha has become the site on which Haribondhini Ekadashi takes place during late October or the beginning of November. It is the principle festival for the year in celebration of the awakening of Lord Vishnu from his long sleep; a notable time for thousands of people. Today the formidable temple of Budhanilkantha, interestingly enough, even provides a guest house, unthought-of till now.