Nepal in the Mahabharata Period, Part 39


Lord Narasimha slaying Hiranyakasipu
Patan Durbar Square

Mar 20, 2013 — CANADA (SUN) — The Yadava dynasty's presence in Nepal, and the events that preceded and followed.

Today we present the third and last image of Lord Narasimha, residing in a royal square of Nepal -- this one at Patan's Durbar Square. Here, a large statue of Narasimhadeva is located at the main entrance to Sundari Chowk and the royal palace of Patan. The entrance to Sundhara Chowk, the most southerly of the palace courts, is guarded by Narasimha, Ganesh and Hanuman.

Patan is bounded by 4 stupas built by the Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd Century B.C. The location of its Durbar Square lies at a very ancient crossroad. Before the Mallas were properly established in 1300 A.D., the Pradhanas where the principal nobles settled around the crossroads. Inscriptions link the Pradhanas with the Durbar Square, which once housed their palaces and temples, no longer standing.

The Malla King Purandarasimha, who ruled Patan in the late 16th Century, built two temples in Durbar Square. One is the Cara Narayana, built in Newari architectural style in 1566. The other temple, dedicated to Lord Narasimha, was built in 1589. It is said that Purandarasimha built the Narasimha temple in memory of his brother, Siddhi Narasimha. Near the close of the 16th Century, King Siddhi Narasimha Malla built the Sundhara Chowk and Mul Chowk pavillions.

Narasimha Temple, Patan Durbar Square
Photo courtesy Brian McMorrow

King Siddhi Narasimha Malla, whose is named after the Lord's man-lion incarnation, also built the famed Tusha Hiti bathing site. This sunken bath is one of Patan's most ornate showpieces, built for the enjoyment of the Malla kings. Water flows from gilded makaras into an octagonal tank, designed to honor the eight Naga lords in charge of rain and fertility. Above the makaras, Vishnu and Laksmi on Garuda look over the tank, and there is a miniature version of the Krishna Temple on Durbar Square at the head of the pool.

Lord Narasimha (left) and Hanuman (right)
Sundari Chowk, Patan Durbar Square
[ Click for large version ]

In Patan's Durbar Square, nearby the sikhara style Narasimha temple is the traditional durbar stone pillar, this one of King Yoga Narendra Malla. The King designed his image on the pillar to represent the arrival of his death. The design represents his belief that if the small bird on the hood of the naga protecting him flew away, only then would he die. And how could a stone bird fly away? Despite his efforts to intervene in the Lord's perfect plan, it seems the King died the very next year, at a young age.

King Yoga Narendra Malla
Patan Durbar Square
Photo by Gunther Eichhorn

The temple of Lord Krishna built in the 17th century by King Siddhi Narasimha Malla is the first specimen of shikhara style temple to be made entirely of stone. It is the only temple in Nepal with 21 golden pinnacles and contains engraved scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was designed by the King in 1637 as a copy of the famous Krishna temple in Mathura. Many agree that its stonework excels that of its southern counterpart, and the carving is finer than that of the second, smaller Krishna mandir at Patan Durbar Square, built by Yogamati, the great-granddaughter of Siddhi Narasimha Malla, in 1723.

The first floor is the original Krishna temples is the abode of Sri Krishna, Radharani and Rukmini, all beautifully carved of black stone. On the second floor Lord Shiva resides, and at one time, the upper floor housed an image of Avalokitesvara, no doubt as an example of the harmonious blend of religions in Nepal.

Garuda-stambha in front of Krishna Temple
Patan Durbar Square


The Sun News Editorials Features Sun Blogs Classifieds Events Recipes PodCasts

About Submit an Article Contact Us Advertise

Copyright 2005, 2013, All rights reserved.