Krishna Mandir Patan situated in Patan Durbar Square, Krishna temple is perhaps Kathmandu’s finest stone wrought monument. Krishna temple is made in Sikhara architectural style, a style that is commonly found in what is now known as the Indian Subcontinent. It was established by Siddhi Narsimha Malla of Patan in 1637 AD, as a copy of another Hindu temple, a Krishan temple to the South in Mathura. Many agree that its stonework is excels that of its southern counterparts. The temple is completely made of stone and the carving is finer than that of the other smaller Krishna Mandir at Patan Durbar Square built by Yogamati, the great grand daughter of Siddhi Narsimha Malla, in 1723.
The Krishna temple on the west side of Patan’s Darbar square was built in 1637. Legend says that it was built because of a dream. One night, King Siddhi Narasigh Malla dreamt that the gods Krishna and Radha were standing in front of the palace. The King ordered a temple built on the same spot. During a war with a neighboring kingdom a decade lator, the King emerged victorious after calling on Krishna to vanquish his enemies. In gratitude, the King built a replica of the temple inside the Sundari Chauk courtyard. The Krishna temple is built in the Shikhara style, imported from India. Beneath its 21 golden pinnacles are three floors. The first floor enshrines Krishna, the second Shiva, and the third Lokeshwor. Scenes from the Ramayana narrated in Newari script decorate the interior of the temple.
Its architecture successfully blends two styles: the solidly formed southern Gupta sikhara form and the open multi-storied style of Moghul. The craftsmanship of the stone carvers can be seen in the intricate images of gods and the perforated stone screen railings of the passages. There is an open passage on the ground floor and it is empty inside. A narrow and low passage leads to the center of the first floor. The first floor is the main area of worship where a large hall holds an image of Krishna with two consorts, Radha and Rukmani, all beautifully carved out of black stone. The flooring also contains images of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. The second floor contains an image of Shiva. The small fourth floor contains no images now; however, the people say that there was formerly a statue of Avalokitesvara. Such placement, perhaps, acted as an example to the harmonious blend of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal. The shrine is the destination of great crowds of worshippers each year at the time of, Krishnastami, Lord Krishna’s birthday, when the temple is beautifully lighted by thousands of oil lamps. It is not possible for non-Hindus to enter the temple, but a great deal of beauty of the temple can be seen from the courtyard.
Patan is the oldest among all the cities in the Kathmandu Valley. It was a well developed and hugely progressive town right from the earliest days. The city was designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma Chakra or the Wheel of Righteousness and it is believed that the great Emperor Asoka came visiting Patan with his daughter Charumati in 250BC and built Buddhist stupas here. There are approximately 1,200 Buddhist monuments spread around the city. The most famous Buddhist landmark here is the Golden Temple, a short walk from the Durbar Square. The Patan Durbar Square today is one of the World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO. It is a city of arts and artists and craftsmen with undisputable skills. The majority of the population follow Buddhism, but you also find exquisite Hindu temples in addition to the bronze gateways, marvellous statues, guardian deities and beautiful carvings in metal, wood and stone. The shops lining the palace square are a delight for anyone interested in curios. Handicraft shops with a wide variety of statues and idols leave a lot of options as far as souvenirs go.
Getting Patan Durbar Square & away
- You can get to Patan from Kathmandu by bicycle, taxi, bus or tempo. It’s an uphill and choking 5km bike ride from Thamel to Patan’s Durbar Sq. The trip costs around Rs 250 – RS 350 by taxi.
- Safa tempos (Rs 20, route 14A) leave from near the Kathmandu main post office in Sundhara district, as soon as they are full.
- Double-check the destination when getting in, as some run to Mangal Bazar/Durbar Sq, others to Lagankhel bus station. Local buses run frequently between Kathmandu’s City (Ratna Park) bus station and Patan Dhoka (Rs 15).
- Buses and faster minibuses to the southern valley towns leave when full from Patan’s chaotic Lagankhel bus stand, including to Godavari, Bungamati and Chapagaon. An interesting route back to Kathmandu is to continue northeast from the Northern Stupa down to the interesting ghats of Sankhamul, across the footbridge over the Bagmati River and then up to the Arniko Hwy near the big convention centre, from where you can take a taxi or cycle back to Thamel.