A row of brass Tibetan prayer wheels with embossed mantras on a wooden stand.
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Did you know that Nagbahal in Lalitpur, Nepal, is home to ancient Buddhist sculptures and chaityas that date back to the Licchavi Kingdom? These artifacts offer a glimpse into the rich historical and cultural significance of this charming neighborhood. But that's not all – Nagbahal is also known for its notable families and religious landmarks. So, if you're curious to uncover more about the temples, the Nagbahal Hiti, and the community's commitment to preserving its cultural heritage, then join us as we explore this fascinating place.

History of Nagbahal

Take a step back in time and delve into the captivating history of Nagbahal, a place where ancient Buddhist sculptures and chaityas from the Licchavi Kingdom still stand tall, transporting you to a bygone era. Nagbahal has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 8th-century. It is home to a plethora of Buddhist sculptures, including an 8th-century stele adorned with four magnificent figures. These sculptures are a testament to the artistic and religious significance of Nagbahal.

In addition to the sculptures, Nagbahal is also known for its two chaityas that were built during the Licchavi Kingdom, between the years 400 and 750 AD. These chaityas serve as a reminder of the ancient Buddhist traditions that were practiced in the area. The residents of Nagbahal are deeply connected to the sangha of Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, a Buddhist monastery that has played a central role in the spiritual life of the community.

Nagbahal is not just a place of historical importance, but it is also a vibrant neighborhood where noble families have resided for generations. Families like Dhakhwa, Shakya, Joshi, Bajracharya, Maharjan, and Napit have made Nagbahal their home, contributing to the cultural fabric of the community. These families have preserved the traditions and heritage of Nagbahal, passing them down from one generation to the next.

Temples in Nagbahal

Discover the enchanting temples that grace the vibrant neighborhood of Nagbahal, each one a testament to the rich cultural and religious heritage of this ancient community. Here are three remarkable temples that you must explore when visiting Nagbahal:

  1. Dyalko Bhagwan Temple: Standing proudly as the main temple in Nagbahal, Dyalko Bhagwan Temple showcases the exquisite Newa style architecture. This temple is not just a religious site, but it also holds historical significance. In the past, it served as a Buddhist school, nurturing the minds of young learners. Inside, you will find a magnificent statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, radiating tranquility and wisdom.
  2. Preservation through Guthi: The maintenance and preservation of Dyalko Bhagwan Temple, along with other temples in Nagbahal, are overseen by a guthi. This traditional institution ensures that these cultural and religious sites remain intact for generations to come. The guthi's dedication to safeguarding the temples is commendable, as it helps preserve the historical and spiritual ambiance of Nagbahal.
  3. A Cultural and Religious Haven: Nagbahal is not just a neighborhood; it is a living cultural and religious site. The temples scattered throughout Nagbahal offer visitors a glimpse into the rich history and spiritual traditions of the Newar community. As you wander through these sacred spaces, you will feel a profound sense of reverence and awe, connecting with the spirituality that permeates every corner of Nagbahal.

In Nagbahal, the temples are not mere structures; they are living embodiments of the community's cultural and religious identity. Immerse yourself in the divine atmosphere and let the temples of Nagbahal transport you to a world steeped in history and spirituality.

Nagbahal Hiti

As you continue your exploration of Nagbahal, be sure to visit Nagbahal Hiti, a historic stone spout that dates back to ancient Nepal. This remarkable structure is not only a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Nagbahal, but also a symbol of the importance of preserving our history.

Thanks to the generous funding from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, a rehabilitation project was undertaken to restore Nagbahal Hiti to its former glory. However, despite the efforts to revive this magnificent stone spout, there is an issue that needs urgent attention – water contamination.

The water flowing from Nagbahal Hiti is currently contaminated due to a broken sewer line. This poses a threat to the health and well-being of the community. The Nagbahal User Group, a dedicated team of individuals committed to the preservation of Nagbahal, plays a crucial role in maintaining and preserving the spout. They are working tirelessly to address the issue of water contamination and ensure that Nagbahal Hiti remains a safe and clean water source for everyone.

In addition to addressing the water contamination issue, efforts have also been made to map the channel of Nagbahal Hiti. This will aid in future maintenance and restoration projects, ensuring that this historic stone spout continues to stand strong for generations to come.

Samyak Mahadan

What makes Samyak Mahadan a significant and cherished festival in Nagbahal? Let me tell you.

  1. Newar Buddhist Festival: Samyak Mahadan is a Newar Buddhist festival that holds great importance in the community. It is a time for devotees to come together and celebrate their faith in Dīpankara Buddha.
  2. Celebrated Every Five Years: This festival is not an everyday occurrence. It is held once every five years, making it a rare and eagerly awaited event for the people of Nagbahal. The anticipation and excitement leading up to the festival are palpable.
  3. Rich in Cultural Heritage: Samyak Mahadan is deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of Nepal. The festival showcases the vibrant traditions and customs of the Newar community. It is a beautiful amalgamation of religious rituals, artistic expressions, and communal harmony.

During Samyak Mahadan, the narrow streets of Nagbahal come alive with colorful processions and vibrant decorations. Devotees gather to make offerings and participate in various rituals, seeking blessings and spiritual fulfillment. The images of Dīpankara Buddha, carefully assembled from around Patan, take center stage, radiating a sense of reverence and awe.

Not only in Nagbahal, but Samyak Mahadan is also celebrated in other Newar communities such as Bhaktapur and Kathmandu. This festival serves as a unifying force, bringing people from different places together to celebrate their shared heritage and faith.

Samyak Mahadan is not just a festival; it is a celebration of freedom, spirituality, and cultural identity. It reminds us of the rich tapestry of traditions that make Nagbahal and Nepal truly special.

Dipankha Yatra

Immerse yourself in the deeply rooted religious pilgrimage tradition of Dipankha Yatra, which takes place in Nagbahal, a historic town in the Kathmandu Valley. This annual pilgrimage encompasses a 66-kilometer procession to over a hundred sacred sites, allowing devotees to connect with their spiritual heritage.

As you embark on this journey, you will be captivated by the rich cultural heritage that surrounds you. Nagbahal, with its ancient temples and intricate architecture, serves as the starting point for the Yatra. From here, you will traverse the Kathmandu Valley, visiting religious sites that hold deep significance for worshippers.

During the Dipankha Yatra, devotees engage in various spiritual practices, such as chanting mantras and meditating, to deepen their connection with the divine. The pilgrimage offers a profound opportunity for self-reflection and introspection, as you navigate through the sacred landscape.

One of the highlights of the Yatra is the gathering of images of Dīpankara Buddha from around Patan. These images are brought together to create a mesmerizing display of devotion and faith. As you witness this sight, you will be moved by the collective reverence and devotion of the worshippers.

Throughout the journey, you will have the chance to make offerings at the various religious sites. These offerings, ranging from flowers to incense, symbolize devotion and gratitude. By participating in this age-old tradition, you will not only honor the past but also cultivate a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Dipankha Yatra is more than just a pilgrimage. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in Nepal's vibrant cultural heritage, connect with the divine, and explore the depths of your own spirituality. So, get ready to embark on this transformative journey and let the sacred energy of the Kathmandu Valley guide you on your path.