Chusya Bahal – An Intriguing Buddhist Shrine
Situated in the Kathmandu Valley near the bustling town of Thamel in Nepal, Chusya Bahal is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of bahal architecture in the area. Two majestic lions carved from stone flank the entrance of Chusya Bahal, while above the entrance the Buddhist deity Prajnaparamita – the goddess of transcendental wisdom – is beautifully portrayed on the torana (carved arched entranceway).
The ground level or the two-storied buildings open into the courtyard, which is covered with well preserved, traditional brick paving. The building to the right contains a shrine devoted to Mahakala – a prominent guardian or protector. The building to the left contains a shrine to Ganesh – the elephant headed deity who is worshiped as the god of wisdom, eliminator of obstacles and destroyer of sorrows.
Magnificent 14th century roof struts support the roof of the two-storied temple that faces the entrance-way. The roof is topped with an elegantly simple finial. All the various deities depicted at Chusya Bahal are also named. In the courtyard there are two votive stupas standing side by side, one being an image of the Hindu goddess Tara and the other being a statue of the Buddha of purification, Vajrasattva.
Chusya Bahal is an excellent example of architecture from the Malla Dynasty, part of the Newari Dynasty which ruled Nepal between the 12th and 17th century AD. The order of priests who were originally given the responsibility of caring for Chusya Bahal has disbanded, however, efforts are being made by members of the local community to preserve the beauty of this ancient building for future generations.
Visitors to the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal will have many interesting places they can choose to visit and will have the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the local people and their way of life. The town of Thamel is ideally situated to be used as a base for visitors to explore the Kathmandu Valley. Places of interest such as Ason Bazaar, Durbar Square and Swayambhunath are within walking distance of Thamel. Of course, a visit to Kathmandu Valley in Nepal would not be complete without taking time to see Chusya Bahal.