Kathmandu Top 10 – Sleeping Vishnu Temple, Budhanilkantha
Kathmandu has a seemingly countless number of Buddhist and Hindu temples of that offer a fascinating glimpse into these faiths and the spiritual lives of Nepali people. While some temples such as the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple and the Buddhist Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Temple attract many hundreds of overseas visitors every day, there is one special temple on the northern fringe of Kathmandu that is rarely seen by visitors to Nepal.
The Hindu temple of Budhanilkantha is located about 10km north of Thamel and as a result is just a little out of the way and difficult for visitors to reach. But this means the temple retains every aspect of its true religious and cultural character just as has been for hundreds of years. Click this link to see a short video of an early morning visit to the temple.
The Budhanilkantha temple is also called the Sleeping Vishnu, or Jalakshayan Narayan and it is the reclining five meter carved basalt statue of Lord Vishnu that is the focal point of the temple. While the origin of the statue is lost in the mists of time it is thought to have been created in the 7th century by the then monarch of the Kathmandu Valley. So the statue is likely to be nearly 1,500 years old and it has survived much tumult and natural disaters over the centuries unscathed. Indeed, there is little evidence in the complex of damage from the April 2015 earthquake.
The statue of Lord Vishnu is a wonder. He lies reclined and sleeping on a raft of serpents floating in a cosmic lake. Hindu belief says Lord Vishnu spends the annual monsoon months sleeping in his celestial lake and awakens during the Haribodhini Ekadashi festival in October-November.
If you can find your way to Budhanilkantha by taxi or local bus it is best to arrive in the early morning around 7:00AM when the temple is at its busiest with local people streaming into the complex to place an offering before Lord Vishnu or to burn incense and ring the hundreds of temple bells to awaken the Hindu gods and attract their blessing. Take the opportunity to rings some bells too and be blessed for your journey through trek or life.