Mission: FOUR NARAYANS
“Let’s go to the Char Narayans!”
My mother had been saying this for weeks. And every time she said this, Dad used to run off somewhere instantly. One day, fortunately, he couldn’t escape and my mother’s wish was granted. We went to the Char Narayans.
The mission began at 4:30 in the morning. We started from home towards the Arniko Highway. The smoothness of the newly constructed Kathmandu-Bhaktapur Road and the cold air making our hairs stand on their ends were making the trip exciting. Then, we took left from Sallaghari. Mom pointed a hill somewhere in the sky and said, “There’s our first Narayan, the Changunarayan.”
Changunarayan is a pagoda style Hindu temple of Vishnu. It is one of the oldest shrine built in early 4th century during Licchavi dynasty. It was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1700. This temple is adorned by the best specimen of stonewood and metal crafts in the valley.
The main attraction of this place is an image of Vishnu with ten heads and ten arms which I gathered was built in the 5th century. Similarly, a stone stature of a kneeling Garud and small statues of King Bhupatindra Malla and his queen are thigs not to be missed here.
Apart from the temple and the inscriptions(in stone), local handicraft shops, people speaking in complete Newari(local language), the fresh air and the clean environment makes a person want to visit the place again, and again.
Since we had three other Narayans to visit, we left fast towards Lalitpur.
This time the sun was already reigning power and the roads had been occupied. Still, singing together in whatever sound came from the throat, we went towards but not to Godawari and took left to a road leading to Lakuri Bhanjhyang. Somewhere between Lakuri Bhanjyang and the turning, was our second Narayan.
This Narayan lies within the caves and stays completely locked up. There are steep stairs that need to be climbed before he is seen and a head should be turned to a weird angle for a proper view. Only the priest can go inside. The rest should be satisfied by just looking inside. Though this Narayan seems to be an introvert, I personally liked him the most. The best part was coming outside. One has to come through a cave and the person who gets stuck inside is a sinner. Fortunately, everyone got through easily and felt free of charges held against them.
With this good mood, we headed off towards the opposite direction, towards Swayambhunath. In the uphill, three kilometres Northwest from the Swayambhu stupa, was our third Narayan‘s rest.
This Narayan stays beyond Ichangu village. It is a two-storeyed temple surrounded by stonewalls. Two stone taps are built, one outside the temple, and the other inside which clearly meant that one has to clean up before going inside. So, this Narayan must be clean, I guessed.
Indeed he was, and the whole area was clean too. Protected by trees, walls and people; this place seemed a nice place to pass time. Gangs of boys were resting in different corners of the temple which definitely made the place a safe place for discussions and chats. On the other hand, one can get a landscape view of the entire valley from the hill.
After we got tired of watching the Kathmandu valley, we then decided it was time to go the last Narayan, at Budhanilkantha.
BUDHANILKANTHA/ NARAYANTHAN/ SHES NARAYAN
The real temple of Shes Narayan is in the way to Dakshinkali, but Budhanilkantha is also called Shes Narayan because he lies on shes(snakes). Lying just below the Shivapuri hill and only nine kilometres aaway from the main city, this place is one of the most visited sites of the Kathmandu valley. The main attraction is a huge Vishnu sleeping or just lazily floating in water. This amazing Narayan is five metres long and lies in a thirteen metre long tank. The features of the great Lord are beautifully carved and the diety is said to be built in the seventh or eighth century by the Licchavis.It is believed that the diety was lost and rediscovered by a farmer. Being the most famous and the most interesting among the four, this Narayan seemed to attract more people. However, only Hindus are allowed to walk down the steps and touch the sleeping Lord.
Apart from being interesting, it is a fun place too because one can see people getting married here. It is considered to be a sacred place for marriages and bratabandhas.
Finally, our mission was accomplished. We did visit the four Narayans and loved each one of them. The temples, inscriptions, sculptures, the people and the location themselves were exciting. This trip made me discover one more thing, there’s a lot yet to know and discover in our country. Our country is such a mysterious place, eh???