Monday, September 10, 2012

Changu Narayan Temple

Changu Narayan Temple

Changu Narayan temple is situated at Bhaktapur, 18 kilometers east of Kathmandu in a hilly terrain at 1541 meters above the sea level. This temple is significant from religious, cultural, historic archaeological viewpoints. The temple stands on a foundation of a single stone.

Two storied Changu Narayan pagoda style  temple.
Changu Narayan temple is decorated with artistic woodcarving and stone sculptures representing different gods and goddesses. A pagoda style temple is one of the oldest one dating back to 14th century AD. The temple was built by King Hari Dutta Varma in 322 AD.  This falls into one of the seven world heritage categories of the Kathmandu valley, Changu Narayan Temple also is on the UNESCO’s World’s Heritage list.

Two storied  pagoda style temple of Changu Narayan.

This is a fantastic center for the woodcarving and stone - works lovers. The unique and beautiful stone and wood works are seen in each and every corner in and around the temples premises. The woods and stones art works the constitute pride and culture of Lichhavi period. 

A Brief History:-

According to a legend, Lord Vishnu, while fighting with the demon king named Changu, killed a Brahmin named Sumati. Guru Sukracharya, the preceptor of the dead Brahmin was angry with Vishnu and cursed him that he will be beheaded by a Brahmin in the future.  After this incident, Lord Vishnu lived in Champak (Micheli a Campaca) forest. A Brahmin named Sudarshan lived in a village, near the forest.  The Brahmin had a cow and his cowherd brought him the milk in a bucket, the story further says that the Brahmin could notice the diminished amount of milk being brought to him by his cowherd. When asked the reason for that cowherd told him that the bucket lost half of milk while passing through the Champak Village. To solve the mystery, the angry Brahmin cut the Champak tree and beheaded Lord Vishnu, while he was coming out of the tree.

Stone sculptures of Lord Bishnu and other gods and goddess.
Lord  Bishnu with his spouse goddess Laxmi  aside on Garud.

Stone sculptures of Baman avatar of Lord Vishnu.

The temple of Changu Narayan remains a milestone in Nepalese temple architecture. It is one of the best specimens of multi roofed style architecture of Nepal, with rich embossed works. This two storied roof temple stands on a high plinth of bricks and stone. The four entrances to this temple are guarded by life size pairs of animals such as elephants, lions, griffins on either side of the entrance. Within  myth lions creatures like lions ,a combination of man, bird and beast which icons are carved  within  the wooden bracket in the corner supporting the horizontal beams which support  the roof.

A Sankha (konch) placed at the right side of the main gate of the temple.

A Chakra (divine wheel) weapon of lord Bishnu placed at the feft side of the temple. 

A general view of the main entrance of the temple

The temple is encircled by gods and goddess craned in the unique and beautiful stones images.
(Sources Changu Narayan Village Development Committee (CNVDC) brochure guide book)

Brief descriptions are as follows:-

One of the proud collections of Changu Narayan complex is the installation of a human faced bird, a Garud on Vishnu, with its knee in a posture of genuflection and (Namaste) folded both palms and it is donated by the king Manadev in the year 464 AD. He is a mount and a great devotee of Vishnu. 

Stone image of human face  bird Garud.

King Bhupatendra Malla and Queen Bhuban Laxmi are placed the next to the Garud statue. South West of the shrine,a temple is dedicated to Chinnamasta of the Shakti cult and was constructed, during 17th century AD. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati offered her own head to feed her hungry companies and it became famous as Chinnamasta. 

Image of  King Bhupatendra Malla along with Queen Bhuban Laxmi.
A  Art  of Chhinnamasta (source - NTB Book) 
A Temple of  Chhinnamasta.

The one magnificent work is that of the sculpture of Tribikram, the one her head cut off a Vishnu of 8th century AD.  This sculpture depicts the scene of the popular Hindu myth of lord Vishnu and his devotee king Bali. The lower panel of the statue is depicted in the poses of bestowment by Bali bowing to Vishnu. There aren’t many icons of soft Tribikram Vishnu exist in the Kathmandu valley.

The icon of Narshimha is an outstanding work of the 10th century. The theme of the icon is to abolish sins from the face of the earth. God Vishnu incarnated as a form of half man and half lion creature in order to kill the demon King Hiranyakashyapu without using any weapon or arms but by the scratch of nails.

Stone sculptures of  God  Narasimha avatar (encarnation of half mand and half lion image of lord Bishnu).
A piece of rice particles (Kanika) is placed in the temple in the main entrance of temple for the urgency period of drought. It dates back to some ancient period.

A particle of rice (kanika) placed at the temple  for  the time of emergency during  drought.

The two storied pagoda style temple of Kilewshor Mahadev was sanctum in the 17th century AD. The temple is famous for its erotic motifs. Forming the lower part of struts. The four faced Shivaling has been placed in the main built.      

Text and Pictures by - Devendra Singh.

For Further Reading,
Changu Narayan Temple, Featured

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