By Vidhya Sagar Secondary School, Banepa
Banepa is also known as the hometown of goddess Chandeswori. Banepa is 26 km far from the capital city Kathmandu. It is at the altitude of 1438 meters (4716 feet) above the sea level. This place is also rich in the cultural heritage. This historic city consists of Durbar of the Malla kings but is already ruined and destroyed completely. It had the town entrance gate with the statue of lord Ganesh. It has the temple of Eight Ganesh along with their respective ponds. It also had the temple of Taleju Bhavani which was brought by King Harisimha Dev from Simrangaudh. The most popular goddess is the Chandeswori.
Nepal has many gods and goddesses with Tantrik powers. Goddess Chandeswori is one of them. Goddess Chandeswori possesses a lot of super natural power. As the chief goddess of Banepalese, its temple is situated at the distance of 1.5 km north east from the city of Banepa. It is a three storied pagoda styled temple with the biggest painting of Bhairab in Nepal on its southern wall. On its compound there are two other chief temples.
The people all over the Nepal believe that if they visit goddess Chandeswori, their wills and desires would come true. In this temple there is always the crowd of the people who want to sacrifice animals so that the goddess Chandeswori would be happy and give them what they desire.
The construction of this temple was started in the period of Abhay Malla. But later the renovation and repair of the temple was done by other Malla kings too. The statue of Chandeswori of Banepa is proved to be very old. It is believed that the goddess came in this place in Satya Yuga and left some of the symbol of her presence.
There are some historical backgrounds of this temple and some of them are described below:
In the ancient period, there were three main devils they were Chandasur, Kolasur and Lawanasur. Among them the story of Chandasur was their leader. Chandasur meditated to impress Lord Shiva at Ugratirtha now known as Dhaneswor. Lord Shiva was impressed by his meditation and promised him to give his what ever he wanted. Then he asked lord Shiva to give the boon of becoming the king of Trilok they are: Patl lok i.e. world under the earth; Dhirti lok i.e. the earth and Swarga lok i.e. the heaven. Lord Shiva was unable to give what ever he asked but he gave the boon that he can't be killed by any men. With the boon he achieved he launched a mission of conquering Trilok. He became successful in his mission. He and his tribe made the people of Trilok hard to sustain their life. Their life became very harsh and full of pain. All their human rights were vanished. The king of heaven lord Indra including other gods and goddess took the appearance of the birds and animals and came to Rakta Chandan Baan. The gods and goddess with the help of the people there get organized and launched a worshipped the Goddess Chandeswori.
At the same time Chandasur searched for all the gods and goddess in the heaven. When he didn't find them in the heaven, he sent his army to search them. Then, he got the information that they are worshipping the goddess in the Rakta Chandan Baan. Then Chandasur along his devil army came to present Nala then Nala forest to do war with them. But he didn't find any gods and goddess and the people as well. The people were suggested by the gods and goddess to go to their respective homes. So the devils found nothing except the animals and birds. When they were searching for the gods and goddess a sound of woman came from the Rakta Chandan Tree. The sound said "You devils. You can't go back alive. You are sacrificed now. No one will survive." The boasted Chandasur cut the tree with his sword. Then from there appeared a beautiful girl whose beauty was praise able with sixteen hands sitting on a lion. She defeated all the devils including Kolasur and Lawanasur. Chandasur was surprised with the power of the girl. Then she even killed Chandasur. Knowing the defeat of the devils the devils that were alive took the appearance of the animals like goat, buffalo, hen, duck, etc. So she killed them taking sacrifice. The devils that ran away from there in the form of animals were searched by the gods and goddess and sacrificed to her. As she killed Chandasur she was named Chandasur Mardini and later Chandeswori. Before killing Chandasur he was asked for a last will in which he told that he wanted to establish a statue of Lord Shiva over there as he was a follower of Lord Shiva. And he told that every body should worship it before worshipping her. The last will of Chandasur was approved. There is still a temple of Lord Shiva there. After the victory the gods and goddess they began to sacrifice the devils on the tree which Chandasur had cut it just had the stem. The gods as well as the people began to sacrifice and worship in the same stem which is now covered by the ornaments. For the victory of the goddess and defeat of the devils made their life free and all their pains were removed the people also celebrated the jatra called Chandeswori Jatra. This is the festival which is celebrated each year by the Banepalese people.
Chandeswori Jatra is held on the day of Baisakh Purnima. The day is sacred for the Banepalese. The people from far away places also come to here to enjoy the festival some even come here in the invitation of the people living over here. The festival brings feast in each and every home. In the month of Baisakh the religious people take their holy bath in the Jaleshvar which flows on the foot of the Chandeswori hill. Then they go to the Chandeswori temple. In the night previous to the day of Purnima, the procession of Takupuja starts from the palace of Banepa. The first part of the procession is a group of the harpers with playing harps as drune, cymbal, kanhan and punna. Then three copper vessels with a torch in each of them are tied with a pole and are carried by two men on their shoulders. In arrear of them a group of the men go one after another with a goja (made of rice in each basket). When the procession reaches Dachutol near the Narainhiti, the Kanaphata (a hermit) begins his puja of Jogichakra. He worships an eastern pot sacrificing a goat to the pot. After that the procession reaches the temple of Chandeswori. The Achaju worships Chandeswori. The buffalo, the goat, the ram, the cock and the duck are sacrificed to Chandeswori. In the morning of the purnima, Matapuja is begins at around 3 or 4 a.m. The Matapuja is the procession of the torches which starts from the same palace and reaches Jaleshvar. It is a magnificent procession reaches the upward road of Ghogechavar it looks from out of town, as if; it is going to meet the stars in the sky. In the darkness, the stars and the torches twinkle equally. The procession reaches Jaleshvar. They immerse their torches in the stream and take bath. Then they offer the pure water of the stream to Shiva Jaleshvar. From there they go to the temples of Chandeswori and Chandeswar Mahadev. The pilgrims from far and near crowd there till 11or 12a.m. Specially, the people in the Kathmandu valley believe that the women will be free from the sin of abortion by taking bath in the Jaleshvar stream on that holy day. At 3 or 4 p.m. Ratha Jatra Begins. The empty chariot which is called Ponkha will be carried from Sodhatole to the Chandeswori temple. The Ratha is very heavy. It is carried by 70 to 80 men on their shoulders. They hardly lift the Ratha to put its poles on their shoulders. So, the Ratha Jatra is spectacular to the spectators. The ladies and the girls who fast on the honor of that day are waiting for the Ratha at the gate of the temple. When the Ratha reaches near the gate of the temple yards the Pujaries put the goddess in the Ratha and the ladies and girls worship the goddess. Then the Ratha will be carried in Banepa again.
At the eastern gate of the town Chandeswori will be worshipped by the Brahman. The worship or puja is called Lasokoso. Lasokoso means a welcome worship in the town the goddess will be worshipped scattering paddy and breach of various kinds from window to window. Groups of the people sing psalm and the other group blow Kauhau and Punna. Same beats drums and some stricks cymbals in front of the Ratha. Thus the Ratha jatra will be continued until the Ratha reaches the western gate of the town. On the way back of the Ratha, Kalandana will be performed by Taguthi at Vokutola. Kalandana in the pleasant puja. The Guthiyars of the Taguthi (the members of the committee) worship the goddess and scatter meat of 12 goats from the windows to the Ratha. Then innumerable breads of different colors are thrown by the people from every windows and roofs to the air above the Ratha and above the heads of the spectators. Breads and meat in the air looks like the flying birds of different colors. The specters have eaten bread and meat. After Kalandana, the Ratha will be carried back to the temple. The idol of the goddess that is kept in the Ratha is not the same which is inside the temple but it is just an idol made as the symbol for goddess Chandeswori. This idol of Goddess is taken out just for the jatra. It is kept in Dhaya Chhay. Some Tantriks had said that some times the soul of goddess Chandeswori comes inside the idol.
The jatra is pleasant but the drunkards fight and quarrel among themselves and shout at random which causes shame to the gentlemen and ladies. The jatra is the ancient system and the people have been celebrating it with religious beliefs. The relation and the friends come from far of lands to see the jatra and take feast together with their relations and friends. Thus it continuously comes and goes and saves our culture.
The present status of the temple is good but the temple is a bit slanted. The renovation of the temple is done timely. The cause for the slant is the earthquake of 1990. This cultural heritage has a lot of importance in the context of Banepa. The people of Banepa goes to this temple in almost all the good works that they are suppose to do such as they goes to the temple when they are going to celebrate their birthday, marriage, when they are going abroad, etc. The religious works like doing Bratabandha, Marriage, Chaa Puja, etc. are also done here. The place to give feast is also managed over her.
So the local people are very much interested to maintain the good condition so now the old building of Chandeswori Temple has been destroyed and new building is being constructed. The construction work is going on well. In order to maintain the rules and regulations and make the temple good there are certain rules and regulations to be followed in the temple. Some of them are listed below:
One should not wear shoes while entering inside the temple.
One should not wear caps inside the temple.
One should not wear the things made up of leather while entering inside the temple or carry the things made up of leather such as belt, jacket, purse, bag, etc.
Taking photograph of the goddess inside the temple is strictly forbidden.
Making the temple and the compound dirty is also strictly forbidden.
Relation with Nature
As every thing in this earth is inter related with the nature, this temple is also interrelated with the nature. As we came to know that the place where we worship is not an idol or statue but it is a stem of a tree known as Rakta Chandan. Now it has become a symbol for strength. This encourages us to fight against the bad and false things. This also proves that there is a close relationship between the nature and the human beings from the time unknown.
As this type of cultural heritages are very much important for the human beings as the country with out culture is just like a man without the soul. The cultural heritages help in maintaining all round development in the country. Thus the cultural heritages must be save.
Patan Durbar Square, a place of fine arts.
Patan, the ancient Malla kingdom is some eight kilometers away from the capital city Kathmandu. Patan has many names such as Yala, Yupagram, Lalitpatan and Manigal. It is situated on a plateau across the Bagmati River is a lovely city also called Lalitpur. In middle age, this place used to be an independent Newar kingdom. This place is famous for finest traditional crafts and rich artistic heritage. Lalitpur is surrounded by four big stupas one at each cardinal points. These monuments are said to have been built by the Indian Emperor Ashoka when he came to Kathmandu valley on his pilgrimage tour some 2250 years ago.
However, the center of attraction of this place is Patan Durbar Square which to our great delight had been recognized by Unesco as World Cultural Heritage site on 1979. Before this, Durbar was called Manigal Durbar which means fine art and architecture. As the name itself suggests that this is the place of fine art and architecture. This place has best examples of art and architecture. In Patan Durbar Square there is different Chowks or Chok. Chowk literally, means the area of the land or a type of courtyard which is surrounded by houses or buildings or palaces in all its sides. They are Sundari Chowk, Mul Chowk, Mani Keshav Narayan Chowk, Hatti Chowk, Daphaswa Chowk, Nasal Chowk, Kashbir Chowk, Lalu Chowk, Ghada Chowk, and Deibhaju Chowk. These Chowks have there own historic importance as well as uses. For example, Nasal Chowk was used for dances and cultural performances. Patan Durbar is also full of beautiful temples such as Krishna Temple, Bishwa Nath Temple, Narshinga temple, Narayan Temple, Mani Ganesh Temple, Radha Krishna Temple, Taleju Bhawani Temple, etc.
Patan Durbar Square is full of the most artistic and architectural temples, images and monuments. All these artifacts reveal the art of Malla Period. The palace is surrounded with a large number of shrines and Dabalis. They are used for different festivals dance performance and even for Tantric Sadhana (religious and supernatural rites). When we step inside the Durbar square we feel as we are stepping inside paradise. When we enter inside the Durbar Square on the very first step we can see a big idol of Lord Hanuman. The reason for keeping Hanuman on the entrance is he maintains peace and kicks away the violence and removes all the problems and difficulties. Statue of Hanuman also represents a warm welcome to the guests and prevents from evils. Then we can see the idol of Narsingh which is followed by the idol of Ganesh. Then we can see a big inscription in which the introduction of the Durbar square is written.
When we come back to the main way, we can see a big gate on our left which leads us to Mul Chowk. Mul Chowk plays an important role in the Nepalese history. It is one of the main parts of the palace. In the entrance gate of Mul Chowk we can find the intestine of animals being hung. When we go inside we can see a Chowk. This Chowk includes famous Taleju Bhawani Temple. Taleju Bhawani is regarded as the goddess of power. She is regarded as the Kul goddess of Malla kings. Every morning after they get up, they first worship goddess Taleju. They were true devotee of goddess Taleju. They used to worship Taleju before doing any new and good works. Only Hindus are allowed to go inside the temple. Taking photographs inside temple is strictly prohibited. This temple is opened only in special occasion. It remains closed. In front of Taleju Bhawani temple there is a small temple which is regarded as Saraswoti or Bidhya Temple. It is said that goddess Saraswoti meditates inside that temple. In front of Saraswoti temple, there is a part of land which has been made slightly downward and a pillar is erected at its front part where buffaloes are killed during Dashain. There are two holes in the pillar where two horns of the buffaloes are inserted while killing. The intestine and skin of those animals hung at the entrance of Mul Chowk. There is a legend that those prevents from demons and devils and welcomes guests. When we come out from the Mul Chowk we can find Shiva Parvati Temple. We can also find lots of inscription some on wall and some carved on the stone. Those inscriptions are written in Nepal Bhasa i.e. Newari language.
As we proceed forward we can see the center of attraction that is non other than Krishna Mandir. This is Sikhar Styled temple which has twenty one Gajurs which is made up of gold. This temple is made by stone only. Not even single metal or other things are used to build this. The oldest temple of this area is Chai Narayan Temple which was built on N.S.686. The northern most courtyard known as Keshav Narayan Chowk is the most important and one of the oldest courtyards of this Palace Complex. The main palace where the king used to live lies straight opposite to Krishna Mandir. Now this palace is made museum. This palace became museum with the aid of Austrian Government. In this museum, the best example of sculpture is kept. They are really fair and fine. They signify our culture, tradition and also religion. Inside the museum, we can also see the throne of Malla kings.
In fact, the height of the palace is not much high through which we can guess that the people of that period were not much tall. Up to some extinct our guesses comes true as most of the old house of the Kathmandu valley and other culturally and historically rich cities and towns has small doors. The main feature of the palace is Aankhi Jhyal. It means at that time a window consist of two window pane one of wood and another of wood in form of net or having small holes in it. The main reasons for putting Aankhi Jhyal may be they act as air conditioner, they are also alternate of glass and the main thing is one can see the things outside the Aankhi Jhyal but one cannot see the things inside from out. At that time to make the palaces wood were used abundantly. Even the wood nails were used instead of other nails.
The history of Patan goes back to Lichhavi period on the basis of an inscription on the Manga Hiti (water spouts) dated 570 A.D. It is believed that only the royal family and the royal priests were allowed to take bath in the spout which was constructed by Bharbi (the grand son of Manadev). Most of the monuments of this Palace complex were built during the reign of King Siddhi Narsingh Malla (1618-1661A.D.) the first independent Malla dynasty king of Patan and also constructed the famous temple of Taleju and Bhandarkhal Pond. His other great contribution is Krishna Mandir (1636A.D.) temple dedicated to Lord Krishna which is the first specimen of Sikhar styled architecture in Nepal. Along with Mahabharata the ten incarnation of Lord Krishna are inscribed in the second floor. Those ten incarnation of Lord Krishna which are inscribed are namely Matse, Narshing, Parshuram, Krishna, Buddha, Barah, Baman, Katse, Baham and Kalki and at the first floor the inscription of Ramayana is carved. Yog Narendra Malla (1684-1705 A.D.) created the temple of Mani Mandap and his own on the capital of a stone pillar. Patan Durbar Square
There are many interesting stories about the Durbar Square. According to 24 years old Maiiya Kayastha, a kind of priest who does Nitti Puja which is done at 4 o' clock every day in Krishna Temple. The story goes like this.
King Siddhi Narsingh Malla was a true devotee Lord Krishna. He always wanted to make Lord Krishna happy. Lord Krishna was pleased with all his deeds. One day when King Siddhi Narsingh Malla was meditating, Lord Krishna appeared in front of him. Lord Krishna asked him to keep a promise and he is able to keep the promise then, Lord Krishna promised to visit him for dinner. The promise he kept was he would not say any body about the friendship between them. Every day the king took two plates for dinner. When the queen used to ask about it he used to say that it’s just for him. She didn't trust on him and approached the room where the king had gone. She heard some noise. The following day she did the same. When she approached she could hear nothing more than some noise. The next day she had planned to see with whom the king is talking to. After the king entered the room she followed the king and saw the king talking to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna knew this and said king about what queen have done. Then, Lord Krishna never came back. Then the king didn't eat anything only worshipped Lord Krishna and left to do works. Lord Krishna again same to the King and said that he is always with him near his palace .So he don't have to wait for him as he told that he is always with him. And he will find him with in the Durbar. He ordered to dig the whole compound. When a man was digging he found blood in a place. He told the king about it and ordered to make Krishna Temple. Then the King felt healthy and became fine.
The information that we got from 70 years old Mr. Ram Prasad Amatya, Scouter of Council Member, member of Phulchoki Prathamik Shikya Kendra, former Social Studies teacher of Namuna Machhindra School is:
The oldest temple of this place is Cha Narayan Temple which was built on 686n.S. by King Purandhar Singh. This temple is the temple of Bishnu Narayan. On 710 N.S. he again built the temple of Narsingh. Later on 746 N.S. then King Siddhi Narsingh Malla built a best example of architecture which is a temple of Pagoda style. He established the idol of Bishwonath Shivaling and dedicated to Guru Bishwonath. A three storied temple having idol with two parts of Lord Bishnu and Shiva was built by Princess Rudramati on N.S.826. Later a beautiful stone architecture famous as Krishna Mandir was build on N.S.750 by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla with 21 Gajurs and inscriptions describing story of epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. Likewise, Siddhi Narasingh Malla also performed religious rites to Kul Devi 'Taleju Bhawani'. After three years and eleven months of establishment of Krishna Temple another Shikhar styled temple with seventeen Gajurs was built by Princess Yomati (daughter Yog Narendra Malla).
The square is one of the most beautiful medieval palace complexes in Nepal. It is famous in Nepal as well as in the world. Foreign tourists visit this area to observe and study artifacts of the place. Nepali people visit this area at various occasions and Jatras. Krishna Astami and Machhindranath Jatra are the major festivals of the place. Devotees from different places come here.
We had talked to a tourist who had come here for visit. She is a businesswoman in Japan. She came here for spending holiday over here. She was inspired by her husband to come here. And we asked her about here feelings towards Nepal and Nepalese culture. She said that Nepal is a beautiful country with lots of good people. She also told that the entire cultural heritages are the mater piece and can't find those pieces all over the world. All the things in Nepal are so good.
When we interviewed the two security forces working to maintain peace in the area they told us that the main problems of the place are the street children and the street vendors. They disturb tourists a lot. While the tourists give a close and conscious look to the heritage they always disturb them. Not only that that the street vendors also force them to buy their goods. They also told us that the municipality is not giving proper attention to the world heritage. The people are making big houses even bigger than the marked level. So they are not taking any action against them. The indication of durbar site is not proper and the people cannot see the Durbar Square from far. Even they have reached the Durbar area they have to search it. Most of the parties and other heritages are used by the people to keep their shops and restaurants. The proper cleaning of the Durbar square is not being carried out. When the information of the visit of people in higher post is gained, the Durbar area becomes clean but usually it remains dirty. They renovation is not being improper time. Due to the lack of renovation the Durbar is being destroyed day by day.
Although there are some problems but also Patan Durbar Square is a site of fine arts and architecture. As a result it is listed in World Cultural Heritage Site. To make it more beautiful and famous, first of all concerned authority should take necessary and major steps. Maintenance of Durbar Square should be done with the participation of local people. Awaking the local people by providing the information about importance of those heritages and their conservation. The street children and street vendors should not be allowed inside the Durbar area. Strict laws must be made and should be made in practice. Making the Durbar area dirty should be strictly forbidden and its cleanliness should be maintained. Pollution in this area must be controlled. These will surely be good help to preserve the beauty of this place. Now the Durbar area has been renovated by Austrian Government aid. Now, Lets renovate it by ourselves.
These cultural heritages are the major factor for the development of tourist industry. Not only that these are the major things which emphasize our culture tradition and history. Preservation of these heritages is our duty and responsibility. These are the wealth of our country. Thus, these cultural heritages must be given importance and must be saved. We should support the conservation works initiated.