Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The image of “sleeping Vishnu” at Budhanilkatha is probably the largest reclining image of Vishnu in the world. To get there you can take a bus or alternatively you can travel by microbus or tempo through Bansbari, the site of a shoe and leather factory set up with Chinese assistance, and walk in about an hour. The energetic could walk all the way from downtown Kathmandu in a couple of hours or, best of all, ride by bicycle.

Vishnu, sleeping on a bed of snakes, is supposed to have been carved from stone in the 11th century. According to legend Vishnu sleeps continuously for four months of each year, failing asleep with the beginning of the monsoon and awaking when it is over. Each November thousands of pilgrims come here for a big fair on the day he is supposed to wake up. The name Budhanilkantha has nothing to do with Buddha.

Another legend tells of the discovery of the image. A farmer was tilling his field one day and was terrified to find blood coming from the ground at the spot where his plough struck something. An excavation revealed the beautiful image of sleeping Vishnu.

Prayers take place here every morning around 9 am but the kings of Nepal are never allowed to go near the image. Should the king, who is himself supposed to be an incarnation of Vishnu, gaze upon his own image, it is said that he would be cursed. A smaller replica of the image has, therefore, been constructed near the swimming pool at Balaju for the king to visit if he desires. There is also a school, built with British assistance, near Budhanilkantha – it is expected to become the best school in Nepal.


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