Kathmandu: Budhanilkantha Temple

November 23, 2022

We are up early and squeeze in some breakfast before meeting Tiger, who has arranged for a driver to take us to the Budhanilkantha Temple. It is a Hindu open air temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Budhanilkantha Temple is located at the base of Shivapuri Hill at the northern end of Kathmandu. The temple is a sacred place for Hindus and Buddhists and is considered a sign of religious harmony that has existed in the region since ancient times. The 16.5 foot tall statue carved out of a single basalt stone, lies in a pool of water and is believed to be at least 1,400 years old. From Sanskrit, Budhanilkantha literally means old blue-throat.

Called the Sleeping Vishnu, or Jalakshayan Narayan, the statue depicts the deity reclining on the twisting coils of the cosmic serpent Shesha (Shesha is the eternal, multi-headed king of the serpent deities known as Nagas, and also is the servant of Vishnu). Vishnu’s legs are crossed and the eleven heads of Shesha cradle his head. Vishnu’s four hands hold objects that are symbols of his divine qualities: a chakra or disc (representing the mind), a conch-shell (the four elements), a lotus flower (the moving universe) and the club (primeval knowledge).

We emerge from the car and can hear the rhythmic ringing bells. Incense fills the air and there are marigold offerings everywhere. We approach the wall that surrounds Budhanilkantha and watch the ongoing morning ritual. Check out this video.

After the ritual finishes we walk through the nearby streets looking at the different things that are for sale. I wish I could buy a Nepalese Doko basket but they are just too big for me to get home. We pile back into the car and drive across town to view a tall tower. The tower is still closed for construction so we start to walk back to the hotel. We pass through Durbar Square en route to the Thamel District. We weave through the streets and Tiger leads us to a tiny restaurant for lunch. We all order momos and a beer.

After lunch we swing by Explore Himalaya Travel & Adventure tour company office for a very short visit. We meander our way back to the hotel for packing time. Have to prepare for tomorrow’s flight. After a few hours everything is sorted into its appropriate bag and ready to go. One last dinner in the hotel courtyard for our last night in Kathmandu.