Kathmandu is a land of rich culture, beautiful people, splendid surroundings and fascinating legends that draw tourists in large numbers every year. Some of these are unique to the region like the Budhanilkantha Temple which is an open-air shrine located at the foothills of the Shivpuri Hill. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and houses an exceptional idol of the presiding deity seen in a reclining posture in a pool of water. It is the largest stone statue in Nepal that attracts not just devotees but also tourists in large numbers, especially during the occasion of Haribondhini Ekadashi Mela which is held annually on the 11th day of Kartik month of the Hindus (October/ November).
The name Budhanilkantha literally means 'old blue throat' and is believed to be sculpted during the reign of Vishnu Gupta, a monarch who served under the King of the valley of Kathmandu, King Bhimarjuna Dev, in the 7th century.
Some locals believe the statue was discovered by a farmer and his wife while ploughing a field. As they were ploughing, they struck something and blood started oozing out of the ground. On digging further, they found a gigantic idol of Lord Vishnu. There's also a legend about a curse of visiting the temple. King Pratap Malla is said to have had a vision which made him believe that the Kings would die if they visited the temple. Therefore, no King ruling Nepal ever visited this temple.
The idol has been reclining on Sheshnaag floating in a pool of water for years and is believed to be a miracle. After the mid 1900s, a small sample of the idol was tested and it was found that it is low-density silica-based stone with properties similar to the lava rock. It has ever since been a fascinating subject for scientists who have absolutely no access to carry out further tests. Devotees, however, can visit the temple and experience what is believed to be a miracle and has been an essential part of the religious belief system of Kathmandu.
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