Chabahil Tourist Attractions
The little community of Chabahil, between Kathmandu and Bodnath, grew up at the crossing of two important trade routes, one from India via Kathmandu to Tibet, the other from the south via Patan. The junction acquired additional significance with the building of a stupa. Chabahil is one of the dozen or so communities in the Valley to have a Kumari (living goddess).Judging by the dates of some of the chaityas (votive stupas) and images, Chabahil's heyday was in the 6th/7th c., when it must have been among the foremost Buddhist centers of its day.The stupa is said to have been founded by Ashoka's daughter Charumati who, according to the legend, saw an iron arrowhead transformed on this spot into a stone. The presence of so many ancient Buddhist sculptures certainly testifies to the importance of the shrine.
The stupa appears to be a smaller replica of the one at Bodnath (1.5 km (1 mi.) to the east). But whereas the latter is well maintained and still important, Chabahil's has fallen into neglect. The plain hemisphere sits on a low platform, with shrines to the Dhyani Buddhas facing the four points of the compass. Below the shrines are reliefs, believed to date from the 7th/8th c., representing episodes in the life of Buddha - the wheel with the deer, for example, symbolizes Buddha's sermon delivered in Sarnath. The relatively large stupa seen today probably dates from the 17th c., obvious similarities suggesting its builders were influenced by Bodnath. The stupa is said to have been opened up at the time and a number of old manuscripts and statues found. These were subsequently sealed up again inside.Grouped around the stupa are several chaityas, some of which date from the Licchavi period (6th/7th c.). These votive shrines, capped by their own small stupas, are embellished with delightful detail. Rich floral and animal decoration adorns the door and window frames, the latter painstakingly carved with tiny figures of Buddha, a legacy of the Muslim invasion (similar work can be seen elsewhere in the Kathmandu Valley). The domes of the chaityas are plain by contrast and lack the stupa's usual tower-like top.In the south-west corner of the courtyard is one of the finest sculptures anywhere in the Valley, a free-standing statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. About 1 m (39 in.) high it is believed to date from the 6th c.