Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance

Changu Narayan is a sacred Hindu temple in Nepal and was built in the memory of Lord Vishnu

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Changu Narayan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in Nepal. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Changu Narayan is considered to be the oldest temple in Nepal
  • It is based on a high hilltop know was Changu or Dolagiri
  • It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has an interesting tale behind it

New Delhi, July 14, 2017: The Hindu temple of Changu Narayan is situated on a high hilltop that is well known as Changu or Dolagiri. The temple had a neighboring forest of champak tree and a small village called Changu and is located in Bhaktapur District, Nepal.

The hill is about 7 miles or 12 km east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. This holy place is devoted to Lord Vishnu and held in admiration by the people of Hindu religion. Changu Narayan is believed to be the oldest temple in the history of Nepal. Bhaktapur king made kingdoms in Kashmir and kept it as Hindu kingdom.

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The temple has a very intriguing story behind its existence. In ancient times, a Gwala, or cow herder, had brought a cow from a Brahmin whose name was Sudarshan. The cow was believed to produce large quantities of milk. The cow herder used to take the cow to Changu for grazing, which was a forest of Champak trees that time. While grazing, the cow always went to the shade of a particular tree. In the evening, when the Gwala took the cow and started milking her at his house, he got only a negligible quantity of milk. This continued for a number of days. He was disappointed and called on the Brahmin saying the cow was not giving enough milk. After observing this with his own eyes, Sudarshan agreed with the Gwala and decided that they should examine the cow’s activity while she was grazing.

While grazing, the cow always went to the shade of a particular tree. In the evening, when the Gwala took the cow and started milking her at his house, he got only a negligible quantity of milk. This continued for a number of days. He was disappointed and called on the Brahmin saying the cow was not giving enough milk. After observing this with his own eyes, Sudarshan agreed with the Gwala and decided that they should examine the cow’s activity while she was grazing.

Changu Narayan Temple, east side, with the griffin (stone sculpture) left at the entrance. Source: Wikimedia

Brahmin and Gwala both hid behind the trees and observed the cow. She went into the shade of one particular champak tree. They noticed that a small black boy came out of the tree and started feeding himself the cow milk. The two men were furious because they thought of the boy as a demon and the tree as its home.

So the Brahmin cut down the champak tree. While he was cutting it down, he saw fresh human blood come out of the tree. Both Brahmin and Gwala presumed they had committed a great crime and began to cry.

Lord Vishnu emerged from the tree and told the Brahmin and Gwala it was not their fault and began narrating the story of how he had committed a heinous crime by unknowingly killing Sudarshan’s father while hunting in the forest. Afterward, he was cursed for the crime, he wandered the earth on his mouth, as ‘Garuda’ eventually descending on the hill at Changu where he survived on milk stolen from a cow. When Brahmin cut down the tree, Vishnu was beheaded, which freed him from his sins.

After this incident, Brahmin and Gwala started worshiping that place and built a small temple in the name of Lord Vishnu. That place has been considered sacred ever since. Even today, Sudarshan’s descendant is a priest of the temple and the Gwala’s descendants as conservators.

People from Newar community reside in and around Changu Narayan. Due to the development of tourism in this place, we can locate many medium and small sized hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc.

However, this holy temple faces a lot of challenges and threats. The Manohara stream has witnessed rampant mining of sand and stones. The local administration has failed to cut down the mining activities. Due to these mining activities, the temple area has become prone to landslides. Because of overgrazing in the nearby forest, the chances of soil erosion and landslide have become very high.

– by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025