Sulakshyan Kriti Bihar

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Kriti Vihar (Nagar Mandap Shree Kriti Vihar)

At the end of Loktantra chowk of Kirtipur ring road, lies a buddhist monastery, Kriti Vihar. It is a one of a kind vihars of Kirtipur because of its Thai architecture. Krit Vihar is the only Vihar in Kathmandu that is built in traditional Thai architectural style. It was inaugurated in 1995 by the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.

Chhyaka Lohan

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The large stone is a symbol of Kirtipur’s great battle with the Gurkha army in the 18th century during the time of unification of Nepal. “Chhyaka Lohan” in Nepal Bhasa (Newari language) means spotted stone. It is known as the place where Gurkha’s General Kalu Pandey was killed during the first attack at Kirtipur. After 3 attempts and support of a water and food blockade for 6 months, in 1765, Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded to capture Kirtipur. Upon victory, he cut off the noses of all Kirtipur citizens above the age of 12. 

The locals of Kirtipur still spit on the stone of Chhyakha Lohan to remember the merciless attacks at Kirtipur by Prithvi Narayan Shah.

Tibetan Monastery Kagyu, Kirtipur

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The Tibetan Monastery Kagyu was once a small house on an open field built by the devotees of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and was offered to His Holiness when he visited Nepal for the first time. Since then, His Holiness had appointed lamas from Mendong Monastery to run the Kirtipur Monastery. Since then, Kirtipur Monastery has been an important source of spiritual guidance, teachings, empowerment and inspiration to many devotees.

The last resident lama of Kirtipur Monastery, Kunkhyab Rinpoche, made an earnest request for Venerable Shangpa Rinpoche to take charge of the running of Kirtipur Monastery and its future developments. Touched by his sincerity, Venerable Shangpa Rinpoche accepted this responsibility. Rinpoche felt that the Monastery possessed great potential to benefit more sentient beings but was restricted by lack of facilities and limited size. Shangpa Rinpoche’s vision was to establish a Buddhist Institute in which both monks and lay followers could engage in the pursuit of Buddhist Philosophy and meditation – an institute for higher learning in Buddhist Studies for all. Kirtipur Institute Of Buddhist Studies (KIBS) was established in 2001 following this vision (Kagyu Institute of Buddhist Studies, n.d.).

https://www.karmapa.org/centers/kathmandu/kagyu-institute-buddhist-studies

Chilancho Monastery

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The Tibetan Monastery Kagyu was once a small house on an open field built by the devotees of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and was offered to His Holiness when he visited Nepal for the first time. Since then, His Holiness had appointed lamas from Mendong Monastery to run the Kirtipur Monastery. Since then, Kirtipur Monastery has been an important source of spiritual guidance, teachings, empowerment and inspiration to many devotees.

The last resident lama of Kirtipur Monastery, Kunkhyab Rinpoche, made an earnest request for Venerable Shangpa Rinpoche to take charge of the running of Kirtipur Monastery and its future developments. Touched by his sincerity, Venerable Shangpa Rinpoche accepted this responsibility. Rinpoche felt that the Monastery possessed great potential to benefit more sentient beings but was restricted by lack of facilities and limited size. Shangpa Rinpoche’s vision was to establish a Buddhist Institute in which both monks and lay followers could engage in the pursuit of Buddhist Philosophy and meditation – an institute for higher learning in Buddhist Studies for all. Kirtipur Institute Of Buddhist Studies (KIBS) was established in 2001 following this vision (Kagyu Institute of Buddhist Studies, n.d.).

https://www.karmapa.org/centers/kathmandu/kagyu-institute-buddhist-studies

De Pukhu and Narayan Dega

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De Pukhu which means ‘the country’s pond’ lies outside the gate of Bagh Bhairab temple and next to the whitewashed Narayan Dega (Narayan temple). The pond adds to the calmness and beauty of the city. The only source of water for De Pukhu is rainwater. So, during the monsoons, the pond often overflows.

During the attack on Kirtipur by Prithvi Narayan Shah at the time of unification of Nepal, a blockade of food and water was enforced on the town. At that time, De Pukhu was the source of water for all Kirtipurians- for both drinking and household purposes. 

In front of De Pukhu lies a Narayan Temple called Pukhusi Narayan Dega. It is a Moughal style temple. It is interesting to know that even though Lord Narayan is a hindu god, the temple is built with Muslim architecture. 

During the night of Gai Jatra, people gather around De Pukhu with various musical instruments. Lakhey too dances around the pond. On this night, there is a tradition of giving legs and head of buffalo to the lakhey. In ancient days, the legs and head of buffalo was thrown into the pond and Lakhey had to swim across the pond to get them. However, in present day, they are handed over to the Lakhey at Narayan temple. After getting the meat, Lakhey dances around the pond along with the musical band.

Uma Maheshwor Temple

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Located at the height of 1,418 meters, this ancient temple was built in the 16th Century. It was built by King Siddhi Narasimha Malla in order to worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. As you lay your eyes on the temple, you will notice intricate wood carvings and cannot help but admire the delicate designs. The locals call it Kwa: cho Dega.

You will be able to access the temple through a long staircase. Take a glance at the temple and you will see numerous floors of the temple. Well, Uma Maheswara temple stands on four successive plinths. The four plinths hold the entire weight of the temple and it has 20 pillars to support the veranda. At the lowest plinth on either side of the stairs lies the structure of elephants guarding the temple along with Bhimsen and Kubera. The architecture is of a typical newar pagoda. Inside the temple lies the idol of Shiva and Parvati (Umamaheswor), Nandi (Shiva’s bull) and a lion. 

Look around, to enjoy this scenic view of the snow-capped mountains. The Mountains you can see from here are Cho Oyu, Gaurishankar, Langtang, and Ganesh Himal. Also, this view gives you a closer look into the country’s capital. You cannot help but notice how dense the settlements seem inside the valley!

This temple is famous both historically and culturally. It consists of a pagoda style architecture and has four major pillars supported by twenty smaller ones. There is a huge bell in the temple’s premises. It is said that the original bell at Uma Maheshwor temple was used as a sign to indicate attack on Kirtipur when King Prithvi Narayan Shah tried to take power over various states and form a united country; Nepal. Since the bell was at the topmost part of the town, you could see the activities of people down the hill and the sound from the bell could be heard all over the town.  

 It is said that this bell originally belonged to Ghantaghar or the clock tower in Kathmandu. Elegant hand-made art-works having rich ethnic values make this temple even unique.

You can inhale a breath of fresh air, relax and unwind sitting at the porch before preparing for another adventure. 4.5 kilometers from here lies the Bagh Bhairab Temple, will see you there!

Saraswati Temple

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The alley just beneath the Uma Maheswara temple leads to Saraswati temple. Similar to the Uma Maheswar temple, the temple’s weight is held by the plinth. The temple lies in the center of large houses yet the place feels calm and open. 

There is a huge crowd in the temple during major festivals and Sarawoti temple. The locals visit every temple in the Kirtipur hill during festivals of Dashain, Tihar, Maghe Sankranti and other festivals of the Newar community. This temple of Saraswoti is never missed during such events.

Go down the stairs right to the temple and take a left turn to reach Pega Dya (Indrayani temple).

Pega Dya- Indrayani temple

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Taking the steps from the north-west gate of Kirtipur, you will reach Indrayani temple; also known as Pega Dya. The shrine of Indrayani lies beneath a large pipal tree. The entrance to the shrine has Komainu at either side as the protector of the shrine. There are seven divine mother goddesses that surround the Kathmandu valley. One of them is mother goddess Indrayani devi situated in Kirtipur. The divine goddess is believed to protect the valley. Kirtipur annually follows the celebration of the goddess in the form of Indrayani Jatra. Indrayani Jatra is also known as Kirtipur Jatra and is celebrated with great joy.

The main jatra starts from Lhyaku Durbar where the chariot is decorated and the idol is worshiped with vermillion, flowers and offerings. A sacrifice of sheep is made in front of the chariot. The blood from the sacrifice marks the beginning of Jatra and the chariot is carried from Lhyaku to different parts of the town. The end destination of the chariot Jatra is Bagh bhairab temple.

Kirtipur Jatra or Indrayani Jatra is a part of Nhegan Jatra (Satgaule Jatra) which means festival of seven different places. It is said that during the time of Ratna Malla, the celebration of Nhegan Jatra got initiated that portrays brotherhood among the towns at the southern borders of Kathmandu and celebrates the victory over evil. The seven towns include Kirtipur, Panga, Nagaun, Satungal, Machhegaun, Joshi Gaun and Lohokho. 

According to the myth, there lived a demon in Kirtipur valley that used to eat humans of the valley. So, to control human deaths, the people agreed to get sacrificed to the demon- one member of each house everyday. One day, it was the turn of an old couple. However, the old couple had given shelter to a visitor the night before. After learning about the old couple who had to sacrifice themselves the next morning for the good of the valley, the visitor offered to sacrifice himself in place of the old couple. However, the visitor was goddess Indrayani. She went to the demon and killed him. Since then, the Jatra of Indrayani is celebrated to mark the victory over evil.

12 different locations of Kirtipur are responsible for the Indrayani Jatra where the Newar Community of different clan such as Shrestha, Maharjan, Kapali, Mali, Kadgi have their own specific responsibility.

Suspension Bridge

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This Suspension Bridge links Kirtipur with the neighboring towns Tinthana and Chandragiri. At the opposite side of the bridge is the town named Naikap. The bridge above the narrow gorge is situated at the north-west of Kirtipur, providing a beautiful scenery of Kathmandu. Balkhu Khola flows about 50 meters below the bridge. 

A park has been created surrounding the suspension bridge making it a perfect spot to hangout with friends or for some alone time. There has been a popular trend of family picnics since the inauguration of this park around the suspension bridge.

Bagh Bhairab Temple

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One of the oldest temples in Kirtipur, the Bagh Bhairab temple, is a remarkable shrine of Kirtipur. Built during the 12th century, it signifies productivity, knowledge, and strength to the local people in Kirtipur. Inside the temple, you will find a statue of Bhairav. The golden statue of bagh bhairab was recently established by the locals with a traditional puja. Before this, the statue inside the temple was made of clay.

Do you see how the top tier of the temple is decorated with weapons? Well, those weapons were used by the soldiers of Prithvi Narayan Shah during the unification campaign.The weapons were of the General Kalu Pandey who led the invasion of Kirtipur for the first time and got killed in the battle. Since the unification campaign was not easy, they were defeated by invaders twice and it is on the third time that they got glory over Kirtipur. Alongside the weapons, the clothes of the warriors were also displayed but they got ruined due to sunlight and rain. In the present day, the remains of the clothes are preserved upstairs in the temple.

Story-time! Once upon a time, there were some children grazing their cattles in the slopes of Kirtipur.The cattles were grazing meanwhile the kids molded an adorable tiger out of the clay.They decided to go into the forest to look for a leaf that would resemble the tongue for clay-tiger. Just then, Lord Shiva with his son Ganesha showed up in this place. Ganesh went into the forest to roam while Shiva stayed beside the clay structure moulded by kids. He was getting temptations to turn the clay tiger into a real one. And so he merged his body and soul into the clay tiger which came to life through Lord Shiva’s mystical powers.The tiger devoured all the cattles that were innocently grazing on land. As the kids returned back, they were extremely disappointed to see this so the tiger never got his tongue. Even to this day, the deity still desires for a tongue!

Some also say that the clay of a tiger was built by a shepherd who was grazing his herd of sheep. While preparing the sculpture of the tiger with soil and water, he went away in search of a leaf to use as the tiger’s tongue. He had asked the tiger’s sculpture to look after his sheeps. But when he returned, he found all his sheep gone. He then asked the sheeps to the tiger, it opened its mouth indicating that he feasted on them. The shepherd got angry and cursed the tiger to never be able to close his mouth again. Hence, Bagh Bhairav has an open mouth and without a tongue.

Bagh Bhairab is known as the guardian deity of Kirtipur. Kirtipurians regard him as Aaju Deu which means grandfather god or a guardian figure. He is honored as their protector. Bhairab is one of the many forms of Lord Shiva and is popular as the most terrifying one. There are around 64 forms of Bhairab statues in Nepal. Among all the avatars, we will find the avatar of Bhairab in tiger form only at Bagh bhairab temple. 

Bagh Bhairab jatra takes place on the first day of Bhadra where the chariot of the bhairab is carried around the town. There is a popular tradition of making rounds around the temple for 108 times. It is believed that one who makes a complete 108 rounds on this day gets blessed with good health and success. It is also believed that Bagh bhairab doesn’t like to have many guests so it always rains on Bagh bhairab jatra.

Lohan Dega

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Lohan Dega lies in the middle of tall residential houses. The temple is a shikar-style architecture dedicated to Buddha. The official name of the temple is Tri-Ratna; Buddha Dharma Shanga temple. However, it is popularly known as Lohan Dega meaning the temple made of stone. 

It is believed that Lohan Dega was built around 1662- 1664.