Standing proudly on the premises of Dattatreya Square in Bhaktapur, the temple of Dattatreya is believed to be constructed by a single stem of a single tree in 1428 during the reign of King Yaksha Malla. However, some alterations were made in 1458. The temple built in Pagoda style has three tiers and there are two huge stone statues of two popular wrestlers of time, Jaya Malla and Patta, at the temple steps. In front of the temple is a stone pillar on top of which a stone image of Garuda is placed in kneeling position. The entire temple is made up of exquisitely carved wood which are dark brown in color.
The interesting characteristic of the temple is that it does not house the statue of Dattatreya the way people prescribes. Instead of finding the statue of one body with three heads, we can see three idols of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva on left, center and right respectively. A huge tree stands behind those idols. On the third tier of the Pagoda, there is a statue of Anasuya Mata and it depicts the story of Mata turning Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva into children when, at the request of their wives, they went to test her power of chastity.
The temple has great significance in Nepal’s religious and cultural heritage. It is considered as a testament to the history and has also survived various calamities throughout the time including the earthquake in 1934 that destroyed dozens of other ancient monuments and buildings in Kathmandu. The temple is dedicated to Dattatreya who is considered as a combination of the three powerful Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva although the carvings on the temple indicate the influence of Vishnu more than the other gods. It also has high religious significance to Shaivities, Vaishnavites and Buddhists. The sides of the temple are carved with erotic scenes and it is also one of the popular temples of Nepal containing erotic themes carved on their studs and pillars.