ancient name of Patan
meaning city of beauty. It is indeed a city of
beauty and grace and is planned on a circular
format with Buddhist stupas
at each of
the four points of the compass. The city is three
kilometres south-east of Kathrnandu across the
southern bank of the river Bagmati. Like Kathmandu,
its most photogenic centre
is its Durbar Square complex, situated right in
the middle of the market place. The city is full
monuments and Hindu temples
with fine bronze gateways, guardian deities also
and wonderful carvings. Noted for its craftsmen
and metal workers, it is also known as the city
of artists. The city is believed to have been
built during the reign of Vira Deva in 299 A.D.
Some of Patan's more important mounments are as
Patan Durbar Square - This whole square
is a cluster of fine pagoda temples and
stone statues; it is at the same time the business
hub of the city. At every step one comes across
a piece of art or some images of various deities,
testifying to the consummate skill of Patan's
anonymous artists. The ancient palace of the
Malla kings and the stone waterbaths
associated with various legends and episodes
of history are especially interesting to visitors.
The stone temple of Lord Krishna and
the Royal Bath (Tushahity) with its intricate
stone and bronze carvings are two other masterpieces
in the same vicinity.
Hiranya Varna Mahavibar - This three-storeyed
golden pagoda of Lokeshwar (Lord Buddha)
was built in the twelfth century A.D. by King
Bhaskar Varma. Located in the courtyard of Kwabahal,
this temple belongs to a class of its own. A
golden image of Lord Buddha and a big prayer
wheel can be seen on the pedestal of the upper
part of the Vihar while intricate decorative
patterns, worked out on its outer walls, add
charm to the mellow richness of the shrine.
Kumbheshwar - This is a five-storeyed
pagoda-style temple of Lord Shiva. Inside
the courtyard is a natural spring having its
source, it is said, in the famous glacial lake
of Gosainkunda. This temple was built
by King Jayasthiti Malla while the golden finial
was added later in 1422 A.D. He also cleaned
the pond near Kumbheshwar and installed various
images of Narayan, Ganesh, Sitala, Basuki, Gauri,
Kirtimukh and Agamadevata around the pond and
in the courtyard. Ritual bathing takes place
here every year on the day of Janai Poornima.
Jagat Narayan - The Jagat Narayan temple
is a tall Shikhara-style temple consecrated
to Lord Vishnu. The temple is built out
of the red bricks on the bank of the Sagmati
at Sankharnul and enshrines many stone images.
The fine metal statue of Garuda placed
on a stone monolith is quite eye-catching along
with similarly placed images of Ganesh
Krishna Temple - The temple of Lord
Krishna holds a commanding position in Patan's
palace complex. Though its style is not wholly
native, it is reckoned to be one of the most
perfect specimens of the Nepalese templecraft.
The three-storeyed stone temple continues
to elicit high praise from lovers of art and
beauty. It was built by King Siddhi Narasingha
Malla in the sixteenth century A.D. Most of
the important scenes from the Mahabharata
and Ramayana epics have been carved in bas-relief.
The minute details of this relief work clearly
show the high level that the art of stone carving
had attained in the sixteenth century.
Mahaboudba - The temple of Mahaboudha
is a masterpiece of brick and tile. Like the
Krishna Mandir, it reveals an art tradition
which evolved outside of Nepal; it also shows
that the native craftsmanship of the Nepalese
can do proper justice to any art form. This
temple was built by Abhaya Raj, a priest of
Patan and is sometimes referred to as the temple
of a million Buddhas because every single brick
depicts a small image of Buddha an astonishing
total of nine thousand bricks. It was levelled
to the ground in the great earthquake of 1933
but was rebuilt exactly to the original specifications,
thus proving that templecraft is still one of
the living arts of Napal.
Rudra Varna Mahavihar - This is one
of Patan's oldest Buddhist monasteries.
Adjacent to the monastery there is a temple
that contains a fine image of Lord Buddha.
The courtyard of this temple is like a gallery
of different bronze and stone art works.
Popularly believed, though not scholastically
endorsed, to have been built by Ashoka, the
Buddhist Emperor of India, these stupas
stand at four different corners of Patan giving
the whole city a monastic character. All these
Buddhist mounds were built in 250 A.D. at
the time when Buddhism was making headway
to the Kathmandu Valley.
Machchhendranath - The temple of
Machchhendranath is another centre of attraction
in Patan. The temple lies in the middle of a
wide spacious quadrangle just at the outer rim
of the market place. A fine clay image of Avalokiteshwar
or red Machchhendranath is housed here
for six months every year after which it is
taken round the city of Patan in a colourful
chariot festival beginning in April-May and
lasting sometimes for several months, (see festival