Lesser-known heritage sites of the Kathmandu Valley
Everyone knows about the seven UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites. Kathmandu has the highest density of world heritage sites in the world, with all these landmarks situated within a radius of 14 kilometres. However, there is so much more to this city than just that. In this City of Temples, there is the religious site in every nook and cranny, irrespective of its history, style or significance.
Here, in our list of lesser-known heritage sites in Kathmandu, we will introduce you to some of the best temples and monasteries, which haven’t received as much recognition and appreciation as they deserve genuinely.
The artistically acclaimed temple of Bajrayogini is, in fact, a very renowned tantric temple. Located in Sankhu, a quaint little Newari town in the outskirts of the city, it is also known as the Bodhisattva temple. The temple was built in the 16th century by king Pratap Malla. Goddess Bajrayogini, also known as Ugra Tara, resides inside the temple. That is why, both Hindus and Buddhists highly revere this holy temple complex.
The main temple consists of three-story, which was made with the utmost attention to detail. Here, you can see some exquisite examples of Newari architecture in the temple’s carving. It is a great temple to observe the height of ancient Nepalese craftsmanship without the crowd and buzz of Kathmandu. Although at present, the temple is not a part of the UNESCO list, it is very likely that it will be commemorated shortly. To add more to the temple’s beauty, there are other equally beautiful small temples, stupas, wells, and caves that will make your visit a pleasant one.
The stunning temple of Chandeshwori is located 26kms northeast of Kathmandu Valley. Built around the 17th century, it is believed that the main temple was built at the site where Goddess Parvati defeated a demon called Chanda. Just like Bajrayogini temple, this one too is an epitome of the beautiful Newari architecture. Ornate wooden carvings characterize the temple. Moreover, one side of the wall features a stunning mural of Lord Bhairava. A feast for the eyes, this mural is claimed to the biggest graffiti of the Nepal Mandala.
The main temple is a three-story complex with a golden kalasa on top and gold-painted torans sliding from the temple’s gliding roofs. There are several other temples of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, and so on inside the temple premises. At the entrance of the temple, plaza is a beautifully-made gate which features a statue of angry goddess slaying the demon. The temple is situated amidst pleasant, lush jungles. Thus, after touring the site, you can go for a little picnic in the woods.
Budanilkantha temple is an open-air Hindu temple dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. While the temple plaza doesn’t boast of excellent and ancient architecture, the massive statue of a sleeping Vishnu is indeed the one of a kind. The glistening black statue Vishnu in a deep slumber is also the largest stone carving in Nepal. There is a common legend surrounding this temple. It is believed that no reigning monarch should ever visit the temple or come face-to-face with the lord’s statue or else will die.
It is believed that the statue was carved and brought to its current location in the 7th century during the reign of Vishnu Gupta. The sight of the 5 meters tall statue floating in the middle of a recessed pool of water is indeed an amazing sight to behold. Several requests to study the statue’s structure to know why it floats has been declined. The temple is a holy site for both Hindus and Buddhists, displaying the amazing religious harmony of Nepal.
Druk Amitabh Mountain Monastery
Also, commonly known as Seto Gumba or White Monastery, this one is undoubtedly one of the most architecturally sound monasteries in Nepal. Not as famous as Kopan Monastery and Shechen Monastery, Druk Amitabh Mountain Monastery is located on a northwestern hill near Swayambhu Nath Stupa. In addition to the religious purposes, given the monastery’s setting near the jungles, it can also be a suitable destination for a little hike or a dry picnic. It is also easily accessible on foot, or by bus or taxi.
From an architectural point of view, the monastery is simply stunning. The walls are adorned with Tibetan murals, paintings, and statues depicting Buddhist teachings. The monastery also serves as an excellent viewpoint to see the landscape of the beautiful Kathmandu Valley. On a bright, cloudless day, you will be pleased by the fantastic views of the central Himalayans, including the Langtang Lirung and Dorje Lakpa seen from here.