Nepal in the Mahabharata Period, Part 29


"Temple of Devi Bhagwani, Bhatgaon (Nepal)"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1854

Mar 10, 2013 — CANADA (SUN) — The Yadava dynasty's presence in Nepal, and the events that preceded and followed.

Today we complete our presentation of the beautiful watercolors of Henry Ambrose Oldfield, with a number of his paintings of Shiva and Ganesh temples and shrines in the main spiritual centers of Nepal.

Pictured above is a watercolour of the Nyatapola Temple at Bhaktapur in Nepal, inscribed on the back by Henry Oldfield: "Temple of Bhagwati Bhatgaon". About the painting he writes:

"The Nyatapola temple is unusual for the region as it has five storeys and stands on a five tiered base. It was built in about 1700 in the reign of King Bhupatrindamalla (1694-1722). Bhaktapur, the 'City of Devotees' is 11 km east of Kathmandu and 10 km north-east of Patan and is the youngest of the three former city-states of the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur was founded in the 9th century and rose to prominence under the Malla dynasty. It remained a valley kingdom until the late 15th century when it became a sovereign state, together with Kathmandu and Patan. All three have similar architecture and were built around Durbar Squares containing Palace and Temple complexes."

"Temple of Mahadeo, Bhatgaon (Nepal)"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1853
[ Click for large version ]

This watercolour is inscribed on the verso by Oldfield, "No. 4. Temple of Mahadeo, built A.D. 1650; with a corner of a Temple of Hurreeshunkur, built A.D. 1650. Bhatgaon."

The temple shikhara (spire) depicted here on the centre-right, is the Jyotirlingeshwara Mahadev, dedicated to Shiva, with part of another temple on the extreme left.

"Temple of Mahadeo at Pasupati"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1853
[ Click for large version ]

Inscribed on the verso: "Temple of Maha Deo, Pushputtinath". About this painting, Oldfield writes:

"The Pashupatinath temple, seen in this view, is dedicated to Shiva and is situated beside the Bagmati river. There has been a Shiva temple on this spot since before the 9th century and the present temple was built by King Bhupalendra Malla in 1653. The square two-tiered building stands on a single-tiered plinth in an open courtyard. The temple has silver-plated and gilt doors with niches on both sides containing images of gold painted guardian deities."

"The Kôt at Katmandoo during the Dussera"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1855
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The Durga puja (Dussehra) is the festival commemorating the victory of the godddess Durga over the buffalo-demon Mahisasura and runs for ten days in the beginning of October. We see here the cultural legacy of the yavana and mleccha presence in Nepal, which Sri Krsna put down on numerous occassions. Blood sacrifices goes on to this day in Nepal, and here Oldfield depicts them on Durgapuja. About the painting, he writes:

"The ninth is the principal day of the festival, and on it the great slaughtering of buffaloes at the headquarters of regiments occurs...In the Kot, where seven regiments are quartered, the number of animals killed is very great...The King and principal Sardars are usually present at the Kot to witness the scene. About one hundred and fifty buffaloes are killed within the quadrangle of the building during the night and early morning. It is a curious sight. the bands are playing, guns firing, and the animals are brought up for slaughter one after another, without any attempt being made to clean the yard or wash away the torrents of blood which are streaming all over the place. The headless carcasses lie about in all directions until they are gradually removed by the different parties to whom they have been assigned." The Kot can be seen in this view as it is situated on the north-west corner of the Darbar (Royal Palace) and was used as the military council-chamber."

"Hindu temple at Lalitpur - Mahadeo or Shiva"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1853

On the verso of this watercolor, Henry Oldfield inscribed: "Corner of the ground floor of a Temple at Patun, dedicated to Mahadeo or Shiva - built AD 1678 by a Newar Kajri". Describing the way in which important structures are situated in darbar squares, the artist wrote:

"In each city the largest and most important building is the royal palace or darbar. It is situated in a central part of the city, and opposite to its principal front there is an open irregular square, which allows free access to the palace, and round which temples of various kinds are clustered together... In Kathmandu, Patan and Bhatgaon, most of the principal temples are in the immediate vicinity of the darbar; many are within its precincts, and many more are crowded around or opposite to its principal façade."

"Bhairava Temple, Bhatgaon"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1852

Inscribed on the reverse: "Temple of Bheirab, Bhatgaon, built AD: 1717". About this painting, Oldfield writes:

"Bhairab and his consort Bhairavi are very popular forms of Mahadeo and Parvati, and are worshipped by Buddhists as well as by Hindus... The Bhairabjatra or Biskati, as it is called by the Niwars, is a festival in honour of Bhairab and Bhairavi. It is one of the three grand Niwar festivals, one of which takes place annually in each of the three principal cities of the Valley. It occurs in Bhatgaon as the Machendrajatra does in Patan, and the Indrajatra does in Kathmandu. Bhairab or Bhairava is an incarnation of Shiva as the "Destroyer", and is a most popular deity in Nipal, where he is looked on as a guardian-angel of the country... He has a great many temples dedicated to him, and in all directions are seen stone alto-reliefs of him of various sizes, and generally, if not always, representing him as trampling upon one or two demons... The festival at Bhatgaon commences on the first day of Baisakh, and lasts for two days... The first part consists in a procession of two cars, in one of which a figure of Bhairab is seated, and in the other a figure of Bhairavi. They are dragged in triuph through the city; and this constitutes the Ruthjatra. The other jatra consists in the erection of a long beam of timber called the Linga in front of the temple of Bhairab near the Darbar, and round it Puja is made, buffaloes slain, &c. This is the Lingajatra."

"Temple of Guyheshuri, Pushputtinath"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1855
[ Click for large version ]

About this painting, Henry Oldfield writes: "The Guhyeshwari temple, dedicated to Parvati, Shiva's wife, was built by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century and is considered to be one of the sacred sites of Hinduism. When Shiva was insulted by his father in law, Parvati was so angry that she burst into flames, an event which gave rise to the practice of Sati, or self-immolation. Shiva was grief stricken and picked up her corpse and began to wander about as her body parts fell to the earth. The temple marks the spot where her yoni fell; guhya means vagina and ishwari means goddess. The goddess is worshipped at the centre of the temple in a kalasha (water jar) that is covered with a layer of silver and gold. The temple stands at the centre of a courtyard and is topped with four gilded snakes that support the finial roof, as can be seen in this drawing."

"Temple of Devi & Deota-Ke-Mookan at Taleju Temple, Kathmandu"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1857
[ Click for large version ]

Inscribed on the verso of this watercolour: "Temple of Devi & Deota-Ke-Mookan attached to the Tallajoo Temple, Kathmandoo". About this painting, Oldfield writes:

"The Taleju Mandir is the largest temple in Kathmandu; it was built in the 16th century and is dedicated to Taleju Bhawani, a South Indian goddess who has been worshipped here since the 14th century. Hindus consider her to be a form of the mother goddess Durga while Buddhists perceive her to be one form of a tantric female deity, Tara. The brick building that is referred to here as 'god's house' is situated behind the temple and can be seen in this view."

"Temple of ‘Ganese' (Beegna Bunaik) on the right bank of the Baghmutty river, near Chobbar"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1857
[ Click for large version ]

About this scene, Oldfield writes: "The Jal Binayak temple is dedicated to Ganesha, the God of Wisdom, who is venerated by Buddhists as well as Hindus. Ganesha's help is often called upon at the commencement of all important religious or domestic undertakings and his image is usually placed close to the entrance to a temple. This temple dates from 1602, but there is evidence to suggest that there was an earlier temple on the same spot. Ganesha is usually represented by an elephant's head, yet here he is represented by a large rock, as can be seen in the centre of this drawing."

"Shoomoolaganese - a 'Deota Ke Mookan' Bhatgaon"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1857
[ Click for large version ]

Inscribed on the verso of this watercolor: "Shoomoolaganese - a 'Deota Ke Mookan' Bhatgaon, built AD: 1696, built by Poorny Sing, a sewar. In it is a figure of Ganese'.

"Temple of Ganese (Ganese-Than) near Bhatgaon"
Watercolor by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, c. 1855
[ Click for large version ]

About this painting, Henry Oldfield writes:

"Ganesha, as the God of Wisdom, is much esteemed by all Buddhists as well as by Hindus. His aid is implored at the commencement of all important religious or domestic undertakings, and worship is made to him first, before it is made to any other of the deities. His images are usually placed close to the entrance to a temple, or on the roadside leading to its main approach. He is always represented with an elephant's head as an emblem of sagacity, and his supporter, on which he either rides or stands, is a rat, because that animal is everywhere believed to be gifted with an unusual amount of prudence and foresight."


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