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Changu Narayan Temple

Changu Narayan Temple

Ok, I admit I have never been to Changu Narayan temple. Because of said disclosure it may be unethical for me to write a review of it.  Instead of a review this blog post combines the information from all known sources, mainly Wikipedia, in an easy to read article. I humbly present to you everything you want to know about Changu Narayan Temple.

Where is it located?

The temple is in the Changu village of Changunarayan village development community of Bhaktapur district. Try saying that 3 times fast. It is located 13.6 miles north east of Thamel Kathmandu, which takes about an hour to drive.

Two myths of Changu Narayan Temple

Once upon a time a man bought a cow that produced a lot of milk.  Everyday the man would let his cow graze in the Changunarayan forest. One day the cow stopped producing milk so he decided to spy on her to see what was happening. After a long day of grazing the cow went to a tree, where a young boy lived.  The boy came out of the tree and began drinking the cow’s milk.

The man became angry with the boy and ran home to fetch his axe so that he could chop down the boy’s tree. The man returned and took one swing at the tree.  Blood immediately started pouring from the tree’s wound. The boy again came out of the tree and told the man he was Lord Vishnu.

Then the man committed himself to worshiping Vishnu where he cut the tree. He built Changu Narayan Temple near the tree he cut.

The second myth

Changu, a talented young man that was known for his fighting skills, challenged an immortal warrior to a fight. Changu defeated the immortal man and Changu Narayan Temple was built to honor him.

What really happened

The King of Kashmir made his daughter marry the prince of Bhaktapur. The prince was so pleased with her that he had the Changu Narayan Temple built in her honor. He named the temple after her.

I can see some similarities between the truth of why the temple was built and the second myth. If you let the princess be the warrior Changu and the Bhaktapur king be the immortal warrior, the story kind of falls into place.

About the Temple

Changu Narayan Temple is one of the oldest temples in Nepal. It was built in a traditional Nepali style, with a high plinth of stone to rest on. The temple was built with 2 stories tall with ornate art and sculptures carved into the wood. Most of the art and decorations are dedicated to Vishnu, some are dedicated to Shiva too.

There are 4 entrances to the temple. Each entrance is guarded by a pair of life size stone guardians. They include lions, sharabhas, griffins, and elephants. This confused me at first because sarabhas and griffins are the same.  If you know the difference, please let me know in the comments.

There are also many smaller temples and monuments in the temple’s court yard. They include various sculptures of Vishnu, Krishna and, Laxmi, former kings and queens, a flying man, and the temples Chhinnamast, and Kileshwor.