The Legends of Kasthamandap
Legend tells us that the Kasthamandap pagoda was constructed through a deal made between a tantrik priest and a Machhindranath disciple centuries ago. The disciple (also said to be a god of wood, in some versions), Gorakhnath, morphed into human form to attend a chariot procession and festival that was held in Nepal. Unfortunately, a tantrik recognized him and cast a spell on him so that he was unable to leave the settlement, now known as Kathmandu. Gorakhnath was desperate for freedom and asked to make a deal in exchange for being set free. The tantrik agreed and told Gorakhnath that his only desire was to have enough materials to build a temple. Soon, the tantrik found a massive tree that was growing on his property. It was big enough to build the entire temple from its wood, and the Kasthamandap came into being.
Some might say that the legend is far-fetched, but the truth be told, no one really has any idea exactly how old Kasthamandap is. It is also believed that the name of Kathmandu was derived from the famous temple’s name. If one is to believe that the plaque that is found inside the temple was placed there during construction, it would still make this magnificent three storey pagoda the oldest wooden structure, not only in Nepal, but in the world. But many believe that the building was erected long before 1048.
Another legend is told in regard to the temple not having a pinnacle. It is said that the builders of the temple promised the gods that as soon as the price of oil and that of salt became an equal amount they would erect a roof ornament in the form of a pinnacle. But as the pricing of these two commodities remained varied, the pinnacle was never erected.
Over and above the colourful legends and folklores, the temple is truly an architectural masterpiece of its time. On the site of Kasthamandap, on Durbar Square, are four other breathtaking guardian shrines, namely the Jal Vinayak, Surya Vinayak, Karna Vinayak and Chandra Vinayak. Kasthamandap itself is a magnificent sight, with its decor of brass and spectacular lions. The shrines add to the spellbinding beauty of this Nepalese attraction. From gilded lions to stone statues of Gorakhnath, engraved brass sheets, gilded shrews and the immortalisation of Ganesh, visitors can see it all at Kasthamandap.
Even though some of the legends might cast some doubt in visitors’ minds as to the origins of this mysterious temple, it is undeniably one of Nepal’s most breathtaking attractions and historical sites.