Changu Narayan Temple

Changu Narayan TempleChangu Narayan is the temple of Vishnu, the Preserver, in the village of Changu in Bhaktapur. The origins of Changu Narayan goes back to the fourth century. A fifth century stone inscription in the temple proclaims it as one of the oldest shrines of the Kathmandu Valley. The temple is believed to be sixteen hundred years old. It is embellished by the best examples of stone, wood, and metal craft.

On the struts of the two-tiered Changu Narayan Temple, are the ten incarnations of Narayan. A sixth-century stone statue shows the cosmic form of Vishnu. Garuda, half man and half bird, is the steed of Vishnu, and his life-sized statue kneels before the temple.
 
Vishnu riding Garuda (the mythical bird) - this figure of Vishnu mounting Garuda dates back to the 10th century A.D. Nar-Singha Vishnu - this form of Vishnu is seen in his half man and half lion form.

The stone inscription (dated 464 A.D.) placed in front of the Changu Narayan temple describes in detail the story of Dharmadeva a King of Nepal who died suddenly, with his young son succeeding him to the throne. The son later after a series of victories in war inscribed his victory on a stone pillar and placed it in front of the Changu Narayan temple. It is written in poetry and in an academic Sanskrit which is something like an encyclopedia of the then society, tradition and culture. It starts with an invocation to the Vishnu of Doladri proving that Changu Narayan or the Doladri Narayan is much older than the date on the in- scription of 464 A.D.

Situated on a beautiful hill the square two storeyed temple stands in the centre of a brickpaved courtyard, with the main structure raised on a three tier diminishing plinth, with doors on all four sides, although the western door is the main en- trance to the sanctum. The doors have pairs of carvings of animals such as li- ons, horses, griffins and elephants, with the main western door richly carved in brass, with a brass tympanum above the door. (one of the most beautiful pieces of brass work of medieval Nepal).

The roof is supported by 24 struts or brackets, which serve as decoration and to support the temple roof. They are beautifully carved and hung at a 45 de- gree angle. They represent the ten major incarnations of Vishnu and his various manifestations. Though a Vishnu temple the struts also depict Manjushree and Buddha. To the south some of the struts have as many as twenty arms, and carrying various attributions they represent the whole Hindu philosophy. The Buddhist community from the Kathmandu Valley also pay tribute to Changu Narayan as the Haribahana Lokeswar and Kileswar Shiva as Samantabhadra Lokeswar.

Situated on a beautiful hill the square two storeyed temple stands in the centre of a brickpaved courtyard, with the main structure raised on a three tier diminish- ing plinth, with doors on all four sides, although the western door is the main en- trance to the sanctum. The doors have pairs of carvings of animals such as li- ons, horses, griffins and elephants, with the main western door richly carved in brass, with a brass tympanum above the door. (one of the most beautiful pieces of brass work of medieval Nepal).

The courtyard has many other temples such as that of Kileswar Shiva, Chinnamasta Devi and other figures like that of Garuda from the 5th century; Vishnu mounted on Garuda from the 7th/ 8th centuries; Vishnu surrounded by Laxmi and Garuda from the 10th/11th centuries; and the cosmic universal form of Vishnu shown to Arjuna in the great battle of Mahabharata; plus other multiheaded and multiarmed Vishnu.

From the temple one can see the beautiful Manohara river flowing like a serpent through green fields, and to the north on a clear day one can see many Himalayan peaks. A whole day is needed to study and enjoy Changu Narayan, just 15 kilometers from Kathmandu city.

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