ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting Asia»
  • Southern Asia

The Changu Narayan Temple

Updated on October 11, 2016
Changu Narayan
Changu Narayan | Source

The Oldest Hindu Temple in Kathmandu

One of the temples that stayed in my memory of our trip to Nepal is Changu Narayan. It covers at least seventeen hundred years of Nepalese cultural development. It is full of the best examples of stone, wood, and metal craft in Kathmandu.

Changu, the site for this temple, is sometimes called Dolagiri, Dolparvat, Dolasikhar, Champakaranya or Champapur Mahanagar. Champapur Mahanagar, what Changu was called back in the 3rd century, was then a thriving metropolis with 700 houses. The priests still use this name in religious pujas.

Rebuilt around 1700 after it was destroyed by fire, UNESCO declared it in 1979 as one of the 7 world heritage sites in Kathmandu. This is largely due to the stone carvings and bas reliefs done between the 5th and 13th century and inscriptions found around the temple courtyard.

Perched on a ridge about 18 kms east of Kathmandu, Changu Narayan offers one of the spectacular views of Kathmandu. It is also one of those places that envelops you in solitude and peace. On the way, you will see farms most of which looked exactly like what they were centuries ago. On a clear day, you can have a peek at the Himalayan peaks and it is quite a treat.


Have you been to Changu Narayan - Share with us

Have you been to Changu Narayan?

See results

The Book on Changu Narayan - Learn more about Nepal's oldest temple

Vishvarupa Mandir, A Study of Changu Narayan, Nepal's Most Ancient Temple
Vishvarupa Mandir, A Study of Changu Narayan, Nepal's Most Ancient Temple

Get this book for your travel to Nepal. There is so much to understand about Nepal's Hindu tradition and this will make you appreciate this more when you visit Changu Narayan.

 
The Changu Narayan Village Path
The Changu Narayan Village Path | Source

The Trip to Changu Narayan

Car, Taxi or Bicycle from Kathmandu

To go to Changu Narayan, you can hire a taxi from Kathmandu or Bhaktapur depending on where you are staying.

If you are staying in Bhaktapur, you can walk there. I will not recommend that you see both Bhaktapur and Changu Narayan in one day unless you are really pressed for time. There is just too much to absorb in both that dedicating one day for each would be worth your while.

You can also go by bicycle from Kathmandu or Bhaktapur. I preferred the car as the temple is quite a walk uphill. It stands 1541 meters above sea level.

But, if you have the stamina, there are guided treks enjoyed by so many tourists because of the picturesque valley and the view of the Himalayas with homes and villages on the way that remind you of the not so recent times.

The Village of Changu - An Old Newari Village

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Old Village of ChanguHouse in ChanguStreet Scene in ChanguA weaver in ChanguStreet in Changu
The Old Village of Changu
The Old Village of Changu | Source
House in Changu
House in Changu | Source
Street Scene in Changu
Street Scene in Changu | Source
A weaver in Changu
A weaver in Changu | Source
Street in Changu
Street in Changu | Source

Of course, before you can go to Changu, you need to travel to Nepal - Here are some useful guides for travel to Nepal

Get one of these guides before you go to Nepal.

I know that some of us may not really be fans of guides but having travelled often, the most productive of my travels are the ones I bothered to bring one of these guide books. For Nepal, get this one.

The Village of Changu Narayan - An Ancient Village

The Old Houses in Changu
The Old Houses in Changu | Source

Walk through the Village of Changu

The walk towards the temple is very interesting as you see homes of the villagers, farms interspersed with stores and restaurants. It is an ancient village with still some of the older homes lived in.

There are stores attracting the usual tourist dollars but not aggressively. In fact, I went in a thangka store and really enjoyed the conversation with the owner. I learned a lot about thangkas just by passing by that store. It was a school at the same time, the Champak Thanka Painting School for those who want to learn how to paint thangkas. The present owner, Dim Lama, who is fifth generation thanka painter showed me the older works that his father did and the difference between these ones and the modern mass produced ones we see a lot of.


Thangka Painting in Changu - Just outside the gates of Changu Narayan

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Thangka PaintersThangka Painting
The Thangka Painters
The Thangka Painters | Source
Source
Thangka Painting
Thangka Painting | Source
Source
Source
The Statue at Changu Narayan
The Statue at Changu Narayan | Source

The Legend of Changu Narayan

The Nitya Puja worship at Changu Narayan remembers this legend. This legend tells of how Lord Vishnu in his act of destroying the evil king Chand, killed a Brahmin Sumati. Sumati's teacher got very angry with Vishnu as that act was then considered a heinous crime. He put a curse on Vishnu, that in the future, he will be beheaded by a Brahman.

Vishnu wandered around on Garuda, the mythical half man, half bird form. Upon reaching Changu, a hermit by the name of Sudarsana, not recognizing Lord Vishnu, beheaded him. Vishnu, to mark his redemption from the evil he did, decided to live on the hill of Changu and declared that everyone who worships him at there on the day of the full moon or on Wednesdays will also be exonerated. Thus, the nitya puja ritual worship at Changu Narayan.

Here, to remember the beheading of Vishnu, his image is one of the head and the other of the body.

The Pillar of Stone at Changu Narayan - The oldest inscription in Nepal

Source

How Changu Narayan Temple was built

Changu Narayan is believed to have been built by Haridutta Varma, a Licchavi king who ruled around 325 AD several generations before Manadev I.

Chronicles say that at that time Haridutta had ordered the building of four hilltop Narayan temples around the Valley, namely, Ichangu Narayan, Sikhara Narayan, and Lokapalasvamin. The inscription on Garuda Dhwaja, a pillar that tells of the victorious Manadev is the oldest inscription to have been discovered in Nepal.

The Statues in the Temple - The pride of Changu Narayan

Source

Different Statues at Changu Narayan

The statues in this temple are very interesting. At the entrance of the main temple is a huge statue of a kneeling Garuda, the flying vehicle of Lord Vishnu. It dates back to the 5th century. Also here, in an ornate cage are the statues of The Malla King, Bhupalendra and his Queen, Bhuvanlaxmi.

There is also a sixth century stone statue of Vishnu Viswarup, the universal form of Lord Vishnu.

On the Lakshmi Narayan Temple there is an 8th century statue of six-armed Trivikratha (Lord Vamana). Next to it is a statue of Lord Narasimha, the man-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Behind is a little black slab that has an image of Narayan lying on the traditional serpent Ananta and above it Lord Vishnu with 10 arms and heads.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source

Changu Narayan Entrance - Just exquisite

Entrance to Changu Narayan
Entrance to Changu Narayan | Source

The Different Incarnations of Vishnu - Depicted in Changu Narayan

Depictions of Incarnations of Vishnu

To the right of the temple entrance are smaller shrines and a platform with a carved stone on top. This bas-relief depicts two different incarnations of Vishnu.

At the bottom of the stone, Vishnu is shown reclining on a bed of snakes. Above this, a 10-headed standing Vishnu is depicted. The detail in this 5th- or 6th-century stone carving is amazing.

Close to the twin Vishnu is a stone depicting another incarnation of Vishnu, that of the half-man, half-lion Narsimha.

In the northeast corner of the courtyard is an important bas-relief that depicts Vishnu riding on the back of Garuda. This is the model for the image on the back of the Nepali 10-rupee note.

The Changu Narayan Temple and its Beauty - Changu Narayan has gilded doors and beautiful features

Gilded Door in Changu Narayan
Gilded Door in Changu Narayan | Source

Gilded Doors in Changu Narayan

The beautifully gilded door is guarded by stone lions. It is beautifully crafted with intricate gilded windows on either side. On four pillars in the four corners are the symbols representing Lord Vishnu: the chakra (disc) and conch shell, the lotus (padma), and club (gada).

As you go around, you find doors made of bronze, bells decorated with dragons and girffins and devas looking out from the walls and steps. It is as if you are surrounded by spirits.

Changu Narayan on videos - Worth watching

Take note of the elaborate designs used in this temple. It is a feast to the eyes and a tribute to the talent and workmanship of the Newari artisans.

Nepal's culture is shown here - The Newari Workmanship

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

Newari Museum

Right in the village of Changu is an old Newari house transformed into a museum. The descendants of the owners are on hand to show you the house and the ways of life of the Newaris, one of the most advanced cultures in Nepal.

You can see the typical family place for daily offering. Most modern Newari homes still have this offering room as a feature as they still practice their daily offering to the gods.

There is the typical Newari kitchen with its cooking utensils and pots. While in Kathmandu, try some Newari food. There are some restaurants that devote themselves to Newari kitchen often situated in a typical Newari home.

You can see how they stored food, milled rice and did crafts as the Newaris are one of the most artistic peoples in the Kathmandu Valley.

The Newari Museum - A Newari House

Source

The Changu Museum

Right in the village of Changu is an old Newari house transformed into a museum. The descendants of the owners are on hand to show you the house and the ways of life of the Newaris, one of the most advanced cultures in Nepal.

You can see the typical family place for daily offering. Most modern Newari homes still have this offering room as a feature as they still practice their daily offering to the gods.

There is the typical Newari kitchen with its cooking utensils and pots. While in Kathmandu, try some Newari food. There are some restaurants that devote themselves to Newari kitchen often situated in a typical Newari home.

You can see how they stored food, milled rice and did crafts as the Newaris are one of the most artistic peoples in the Kathmandu Valley.

See pictures of the Newari Museum - You can see in the pictures how the Newaris lived

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Puja Place in the MuseumArtifacts in the museumDrums in the Museum
Puja Place in the Museum
Puja Place in the Museum | Source
Artifacts in the museum
Artifacts in the museum | Source
Drums in the Museum
Drums in the Museum | Source
Source

Newari Art - Know this art?

Are you familiar with Newari art?

See results

Are you interested in Changu Narayan?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 8 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      The whole city of Nepal is full of these temples and we were lucky to have been there before the devastating earthquake.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 8 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      What an amazing glimpse into this ancient city and their traditions. You've captured my imagination here. Love the photos.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      I was in Kathmandu for 10 days, but never made it out to Changu Narayan. When I go back it will be top of the list. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      The art work is extraordinary. Thank you for providing this wonderful tour. This shows how talented and creative people were. I wish I could easily drive over to this site. Wish you the best.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      The village looks interesting place!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      I'd certainly love to check this place out - thanks for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image

      indiavacationplans 5 years ago

      You covered the subject very thoroughly. Excellent advice.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The temple looks quite beautiful with the old aesthetics and peaceful too.