Home Culture Changu Narayan Temple: Oldest Hindu Temple
June 19, 2019

Changu Narayan Temple: Oldest Hindu Temple

World heritage site briefing - 9

Changu Narayan Temple: Dedicated to Lord Vishnu
Changu Narayan Temple: Dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Photo by Lala Gurung/highlights Tourism

Changu Narayan temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples, dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu and his incarnation Narayan. It was built in the 4th century during the Licchavi era and was rebuilt in 1702 after an inferno.

About 22 km far from hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, the temple is situated in Bhaktapur and is perched on a hill and faces towards the swaying green and yellow rice fields. The 3000 years old temple has a double roofs-two-tiered pagoda style.

Lions carved out of stones consistently guarding the four doors of the temple and ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are visible on the walls of the temple. Lord Vishnu is seen astride Garuda (half-man and half-bird) as Garuda is the Vishnu’s vehicle as myth has it. The statue of Garuda is seen kneeling at the door of the west face of the temple. Inscription on the statue relates to the Licchivi period.

The statue of King Bhupatindra Malla along with his queen is also erected here. The statue of Lord Vishnu in the form of Narasimha (half man and half lion). Another statue of Vishnu as a Vikrant or Vamana (the six-armed dwarf who turned into a giant later to take only three steps to cross the boundaries of the universe and then push the most generous King Bali to the underworld).

Legend has it that King Bali had earned his reputation as the most generous man in the three realms of the universe and the lord Bishnu had to descend on earth to test the generosity of King Bali.

So, disguised as a Vamana (dwarf sage) the lord Bishnu begged for only three feet of land in alms from King Bali. The king agreed, then the sage started measuring the land with his feet. It is said that in two steps he had finished the realm of earth and heaven.

Then, he asked King Bali to give more land for his third step to land. At this King Bali is said to have asked sage to put his feet upon his head. And before the sage could put his feet upon the head of King Bali, he had grown into a giant to land his step upon the head of Bali to push him down to hell or underworld.

There is also the image of Vishnu shown as a 10-headed and 10-armed lord. Intricate carvings of Tantrik local deities are also associated with this temple. Worth seeing is the statue of Tantric Goddess Chhinamasta, who is said to have beheaded her own head to appease the bloodthirsty deity Dakini.

How to get there?

You may easily get to this temple by bus from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur or you may also take a cab to reach there. The temple is famous for artistic works on the walls and windows which shows the art and craft of primordial times.

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