Nepal in the Mahabharata Period, Part 24

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BY: SUN STAFF - 13.11 2018

Sri Garuda Piller 
Patan Durbar Square

The Yadava dynasty's presence in Nepal, and the events that preceded and followed.

There are many remarkable and beautiful images of Sri Garuda found in Nepal. Several of them are described as being located in 'Durbar Square', which can be a little confusing. 'Durbar Square' is a generic name used to describe plazas opposite the old royal palaces of Nepal. Prior to the Unification, Nepal consisted of many small kingdoms, and the Durbar Squares are basically the locations of the most prominent remnants of those old kingdoms.

There are three Durbar Squares in which notable images of Garuda are found in the Kathmandu Valley: Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur, Kathmandu City Durbar Square, and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. All three Durbar Squares were heavily damaged by the 2015 earthquake, and reconstruction efforts are ongoing.

Sri Garuda, Patan Durbar Square

In Lalitpur's Patan Durbar Square, Garuda sits high atop a pillar, and this is one of the most famous Garudas in the world, being one of the most photographed. Here, Garuda is mounted on a tall stone monolith outside the Jagat Narayana mandir, a tall sikhara-style temple dedicated to Lord Visnu. The temple, built of red bricks, is a beautiful backdrop for the exquisite metal statue of Garuda that rises above it.

The Garuda column in Patan Durbar Square is mirrored by a second impressive pillar, holding aloft an image of King Yoganarendra Malla. The twin pillars are surrounded by two Krishna mandirs, the Vishwanath Temple and the Bhimsen Temple.

Sri Garuda Piller and King Yoganarendra Mall's Pillar
Patan Durbar Square

Lalitpur was founded by King Veer Deva of the Kirat dynasty in 299 A. D. It was later expanded by the Lichhavis in the 6th Century, then by the Malla rulers during the Medieval period. Patan, the oldest of all the cities in Nepal, is laid out in a complex design of stupas and temples, water conduits, spouts and tanks, and beautifully adorned gateways into the various city sectors. At the center is the beautiful Garuda pillar in Durbar Square.

Kathmandu City is the capital of Nepal, and its largest metropolitan city. Situated in the Kathmandu Valley along with Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, Kathmandu is home to some 700,000 souls. The city stands at an elevation of about 4,600 feet above sea level - a height that is dwarfed by the distant rise of the Himalayas.

Outside of Kathmandu there are hundreds of Hindu temples and Buddhist vihars, including many worshipable Vaisnava sites. The presiding Deities of these sites include Krishna, Visnu and Lord Nrsimhadev, along with many Shiva tirthas. But most surprising are the great number of murtis and stambhas erected in honor of Sri Garuda, whose presence is felt throughout Nepal, even in the heart of its Buddhist enclaves.

Sri Garuda 
Pashupatinath Ghats, Kathmandu

The Bagmati River in eastern Kathmandu is considered a sacred river because it eventually flows into the Ganges. Here, people come to pray at Pashupatinath Shiva temple, and to cremate their dead on the burning ghats. Lord Pashupatinath is the national Deity for Nepal's Hindu community. The temple is said to date back to 400 A.D. Along the Pashupatinath Ghats there are a number of beautiful images of Garuda. There are at least two bas relief sculptures of Garuda carved into stone buildings, protruding from the corners, like the one pictured above.

Overview of Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu