Changunarayan & Changu Narayan Temple

Changu Narayan
The temple of Changu Narayan lies 8 km (5 mi.) north of Bhaktapur. Perched on the end of a ridge extending from Nagarkot, its striking and scenically beautiful setting adds further enchantment to this important shrine.
The temple complex of Changu Narayan is one of the principal sights of Nepal and is on the UNESCO list of protected world cultural heritage sites.
Changu Narayan is probably the oldest temple in the whole Kathmandu Valley. Its principal image was installed in the 4th c., at about the same time as the Shiva lingam in Pashupatinath. Repeatedly destroyed by fire and earthquake, the shrine was on each occasion rebuilt larger and more richly decorated than before. The present, classically proportioned pagoda, dating from 1702, is a masterpiece of form and decoration. The courtyard boasts an almost unparalleled collection of superb Nepalese wood- carving, metal-work and sculpture. Even as recently as the turn of the century the court was out-of-bounds to non-Hindus. In 1901 the French historian Sylvain Lévi was forced to make notes standing at the entrance while his Nepalese assistant described the scene to him.
The struts on the pagoda's lower roof are carved with the ten incarnations of Vishnu. The woodwork has been painted in the course of the present century, which, while tending to obscure the fine detail of the carving, nevertheless harmonizes with the overall opulence of the decoration. The result is a feast of materials and hues.
In addition to the main temple the courtyard contains shrines to Krishna and Shiva, the Ashta Matrika shrine, and a number of exceptionally fine sculptures.
In the south-west corner are three different portrayals of Vishnu. As Vishnu Vikranta he is the dwarf transformed into a giant, striding across the universe in only three steps. As the lion-headed Vishnu Narasingha he slays a demon with his bare hands.
The third relief, of Vishnu Vishvarupa, or Vishnu the All-in-one, is the most fascinating. Dating from the 8th c. it is divided horizontally into zones symbolizing the several levels of the universe over which the god presides. With his ten heads and ten arms, and born aloft by Garuda, he forms a cosmic column in the center of the universe, at the base of which the Sleeping Vishnu reclines on the primeval ocean. Various deities, including Shiva holding a rosary, trident, pot and World Seed, are gathered on either side.
A stone column by the west front of the temple bears the earliest inscription to be found in the Kathmandu Valley. Engraved in 464 it records the victory of King Manadeva over the "barbarians" from the north and south.
The nearby figure of Garuda is thought by archaeologists to have come from the column. The features of Vishnu's bearer-companion are probably those of the King, who considered himself the god's representative on Earth.

Changu Narayan - Vishnu Sculpture

To the north of the temple stands a sculpture of Vishnu seated on Garuda (Garudasana Vishnu), an image familiar from the Nepalese 10 rupee note.
The style would suggest that the perfectly proportioned figure dates from the 9th c.

Changu Narayan - King Bhupalendra Malla Statues

Statues of King Bhupalendra Malla of Kathmandu and his mother can be seen in a shrine behind a grill. Bloody intrigue characterized their politics during the 17th c. but both were generous when it came to venerating the gods.

Changu Narayan - Garuda Idol

Inside the temple is an even more revered figure of Garuda which, every year at Nag Panchami, reputedly "sweats" in remembrance of the legendary struggle with the great snake Taksaka. The drops of moisture, believed effective against "snake diseases" such as leprosy and ulcers, are carefully gathered up by the priests.
Changu Narayan Temple, Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Valley - Floor plan map Changu Narayan Temple, Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Valley Map

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