Budhanilkantha Temple, or the Narayanthan Temple, is located below the Shivpuri hills at the northern end of Nepal’s Kathmandu valley. The Temple’s name does not come from the Buddha but instead stands for the “old blue throat” which symbolizes Lord Vishnu, one of the ‘Trimurtis’ along with Bramha and Shiva, when he was in one of his avatars and took the poison which came out of the ‘Samudra Manthan’.
The largest stone carving of Nepal, Temple’s central reclining statue of Lord Vishnu on a bed of the cosmic serpent Shesha in the middle of a pond, marks its signature. The 5-meter long sculpture has been made out of a single block of black basalt stone, making it the country’s largest and the most beautiful Vishnu idol of all times. This idol lies in a 13-meter pond known as the ‘cosmic sea’, and the water present in this small pond is believed to have originated from Gosainkund, a lake formed when Lord Shiva’s trident struck the mountainside. The idol is believed to be built during the 7th-century monarch Vishnu Gupta, who controlled the Kathmandu valley under the Lichchhavi king Bhimarjuna Dev. Later, a farmer rediscovered the statue in his field during the early Malla dynasty while ploughing the area, which caused the idol to lose blood and hence be found. The statue was then placed in its present position.
A legend states that King Pratap Malla had a prophetic vision. This vision made him believe that Nepal’s kings would die if they ever visited the Budhanilkantha Temple. So, the Nepali monarchs never visited the Temple even after the king in fear of the prophecy.
The Budhanilkantha Temple has become the site for the Haribondhini Ekadashi Mela that takes place on the 11th day of Kartika’s Hindu month, i.e., from October to November. This fair is held to mark the end of the 4-month long sleeping period of Lord Vishnu as per the Hindus. Several pilgrims and tourists visit the Temple every year during this time to participate in the celebration of Lord Vishnu’s awakening from his long sleep. This celebration depicts Nepal’s religious harmony, where both Buddhism and Hinduism are welcomed with much joy and enthusiasm.
The open-air Temple of the Hindu lord is located approximately 9 kilometers from the center of Kathmandu at the base of Shivpuri Hills. This place holds high significance as it is one of Nepal’s key destinations and across South Asia. There are many ways of reaching this place. Taxis, buses, and vans provide transport from central Kathmandu, but you could also bike to Budhanilkantha. Also, apart from the Temple, there are various restaurants and cafes nearby to rest and eat. The air is cleaner at the height, and you can always go for a hike in the Shivpuri National park.
The Temple is open all seven days from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Monday, Tuesday, and Friday as the busiest days of all. Overall, this place has a very spiritual touch with fresh air and peace, making this place a must-visit.