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Bagh Bhairab Temple

Subash Shrestha June 5, 2020

Bagh bhairab temple

Bagh Bhairab Temple is located in Kirtipur which is half an hour away is around 8 km from Ratnapark (in front of Bir Hospital). The temple offers a beautiful view of Kathmandu Valley at 1405 m high above the sea level.

View of kathmandu

It is one of the oldest and unique temples in Kirtipur (during 16th century) and is also known as Aju Deu. This temple is devoted in the form of a tiger to God Bhairab. Bhairab refers to the terrifying form of Lord Shiva. It is regarded as the guardian deity of Kirtipur.

Feature of Bagh Bhairab Temple

Bagh bhairab temple

The temple is three storied building in rectangular courtyard and paved with brick and wooden pillars in between the windows with Hindu Gods and Goddesses carvings and many old, faded wall paintings that depicts the various story, like Mahabharat, Ramayan and other manifestations of Durga under first floor’s eaves. The main gate of this temple is at the southern side with two other gates at eastern and western side. The top roof of the temple is of gilt-copper and the other two roofs are covered with tiles.

There are 18 pinnacles in the temple with 1 in first roof, 6 in middle roof and 11 in the top roof.  The right side of the temple has the idol of god Hifa Dyo for the blood sacrifice and the idol of goddess Kumari on the second gate. Also on the western wall lies the idol of Nasa Dyo which is regarded as the god of music and dance.

This temple consists of many rusted weapons believed to be of the soldiers of Prithvi Narayan Shah during the attack in Kirtipur. People believe that weapons were offered here during the victories of Kirtipur, whenever they had a victory they would offer the weapons to the temple of the defeated one. And some of them are the weapons of the Gorkha soldiers from the 1st and 2nd attempt to capture Kirtpur which both were unsuccessful until their 3rd attempt.

The Main Idol

The main idol lies inside the temple in the left corner which is of clay. The idol is of clay made form of Bagh Bhairab (tiger god) which is often remade every 20-30 years which is only done by Buddhist priests of Bajracharya. Before moulding the clay is a mix of clays from 7 different holy sites. With three glass-eye this idol/god is tongue and toothless although it is heavily ornamented and covered with silver and copper plates and people first worship here before any ceremonies in Kirtipur. People worship this god as the god of strength, knowledge and productivity.

Story of the temple

It is believed that the idol was built by a shepherd when he was having a leisure time while his sheep were grazing. Using soil and water, he made a sculpture of a tiger. Everything was finished except the tongue of the tiger, so he went in search of the appropriate leaf as a tongue and asked to look after the sheep. While the shepherd was searching for leaves in the jungle, Lord Shiva and his son Lord Ganesh arrived and stopped in the place where the sculpture was built.

Lord Ganesh went inside the jungle but Lord Shiva rested and waited for his son. He was starving, so with his powers he got inside the statue and guzzled down all the sheep. After some moment the shepherd came back and felt his sheep were missing. He looked everywhere, later saw the scattered bones and blood near the statue. Asked if all these were done by that tiger(statue). Cursed in anger to never be able to close its mouth and didn’t offer the leaf(tongue). Which is why the idol of Bagh Bhairab in the temple is tongue and toothless with an open mouth.

Bagh Bhairab Jatra

Bagh Bhairab Jatra is one of the big festivals in Kirtipur celebrated by the majority of Newars. This Jatra is celebrated annually on the first day of Bhadra (in August). People of Kirtipur with many musical instruments, hymns and songs celebrate this festival by worshipping God Bagh Bhairab. During the Jatra, they perform mask dance, Lakhey dance with the decorated chariot. Many people from Kirtipur and throughout the valley visit to watch the Jatra.

Many people go along with the decorated chariot and enjoy the musical instruments played by the locals. Ladies carry lamps, locals play musical instruments and take the chariot around. Where the Jatra ends after the chariot completes its round and people enjoy having Bhoj after that.

Once in every 12 years

Lakhey dance once in every 12 years

Bagh Bhairab dance is done once in every 12 years and is also called Gathu Pyakha in Newar language. The dance is performed by wearing masks of 12 deities. Including Bhairab, Ganesh, Mahadev, Ganga, Brahmayani, Vaisnavi, Indrani, Kalika, Kumar, Barahi, Sinhini and Byaghini. Throughout the year, the Gathus perform in several places. In that dance, for two times the deities are laid dead and brought to life. With a Guru chanting water and for the third time the masks die except of Lord Ganesh. All the masks excluding the mask of Lord Ganesh are piled up and with a bundle of lighted reeds. They are burned, it becomes the end of the dramatic dance (tantric dance), sets for the next 12th year. A huge crowd attends.

Other attractions near to reach from Bagh Bhairab

Jal Binayak Temple- 5.4 km, 15 minutes to reach

Taudaha- around 7.3 km and takes 20 minutes

Dakshinkali Temple- 17 km, 40 minutes

Manjushree Park- 4 km, 10 minutes

Whoopee Land Amusement Water Park- 3.2 km, 12 minutes

Reaching Bagh Bhairab

You can get a public bus/ micro bus from Ratnapark to Kirtipur or in the ring road area as well.

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