KathmanduTourist Places

Budhanilkantha Temple

The Budhanilkantha temple of the Hindu god Vishnu, located approximately 10 kilometers from the center of Kathmandu at the base of the Shivapuri Hill, is the largest and most beautiful stone carving in all of Nepal. It is also the most enigmatic.

Story Highlights
  • Budhanilakantha is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Old Blue Throat’, a title of Lord Shiva that was given by gods after the Lord drank poison to save the world
  • The temple houses the country’s largest and most beautiful stone-carved idol of Lord Vishnu believed to have been made with a single block of black basalt stone of unknown origin
  • The sculpture is 5 meters long and lies in a resting position in a 13-meter long pond also called as a ‘cosmic sea’
  • Vishnu idol in the lake was believed to have been built during the reign of the 7th century monarch Vishnugupta, who controlled the Kathmandu valley, 1400 years ago
  • Records also show that the temple has been rediscovered later during the early Malla Dynasty period by a farmer and his wife
  • The water in Budhanilakantha is believed to have originated from Gosainkund, a lake formed as a result of Lord Shiva’s trident striking with the mountainside
  • Local legend describes the existence of mirror-like image of Lord Shiva on the statue’s underside
  • The Lord Vishnu statue shares feature similar to that of Lord Buddha
  • Thousands of pilgrims visit the temple during Haribondhini Ekadashi that is held during the 11th day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October – November), every year
  • A big fair is also held at Budhanilkantha every year on the auspicious days of Ekadashis, Harishayani and Haribodhini, marking the 4-month sleeping period of Lord Vishnu as believed by Hindus

Visit the holy Budhanilkantha Temple and offer prayers at one of the most revered Vishnu shrines of the valley. The remarkably intricate artwork that went into sculpting this magnificent 5th century stone image of the sleeping Vishnu is worth a close look. You could combine the trip with a visit to the Shivapuri National Park further up, provided you are up for a hike.

Located at the foot of the Shivapuri hills in the northern-most part of Kathmandu Valley, Budhanilkantha is about 8 km from the city. The largest stone statue of Lord Vishnu in Nepal, it shows him reclining on a bed of Nagas or serpents in the middle of a small pond. A priest is usually in attendance at the foot of the image to receive offerings from devotees. The 5m long granite image carved out of a single rock dates back to the Lichhavi period. The Lichhavis ruled the valley before being ousted by the Malla dynasty, who in turn were conquered by King Prithvi Narayan Shah.

According to folklore, a farmer was working on his field one day when his plough struck a boulder, and to his surprise and alarm, blood started oozing out of the cut in the stone. Upon digging around the huge boulder, he unearthed the magnificent image of the reclining Vishnu that had remained buried in the ground.

Interesting Facts

Budhanilkantha statue itself has several stories behind it that are noteworthy. There is some evidence that states it was sculpted in the 7th century and brought to the area by Vishnu Gupta who was under the Licchavi king Bhimarjuna Dev.

Another story tells of a farmer and his wife ploughing a field when they hit a stone which started to bleed. The dug up the stone only to discover it was the lost Budhanilkantha statue. It was then moved to its present location.

No kings of Nepal have visited Budhanilkantha since king Pratap Malla (1641–1674) had a vision. It was revealed to him that any king that visited the temple would die. Since then, none have visited it.

The site on which Haribondhini Ekadashi takes place during the 11th day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October – November).

How to reach Budhanilkantha Temple

You can reach Budhanilkantha Temple by travelling about 9 km from Thamel as well. There are many buses and vans providing transport from central Kathmandu, but you could also bike all the way to Budhanilkantha, or hire a Car. Further up from the temple or before you reach the shrine, there are a few restaurants and cafes where you can stop for a coffee or a meal. The air is cleaner up here and a hike in the Shivapuri National Park can be very refreshing.

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Kulendra Baral

Kulendra Baral is a travel and tourism specialist in Nepal. In 2004, Nepal Visitors was established and promoting the Nepal Tourism. Nepal Visitors is a travel information provider side where Nepalese travel related agencies are affiliated

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