Ganesh shrines of the Kathmandu Valley

Ganesh sculpture at Sankhu, Nepal

Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, is one of the most popular divinities in Hinduism. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Accidentally Shiva cut off his head and had to replace it with the head of an elephant. For this misfortune Shiva granted Ganesh the right to be worshiped before any other god at every Hindu ritual. Besides this, Ganesh is considered to possess the power of removing obstacles, curing diseases, helping in completing difficult tasks. Ganesh shrines are numerous all around the Kathmandu Valley. Four shrines are especially sacred: Chandra Binayak, Suriya Binayak, Karya Binayak and Jal Binayak.


To Chandra Binayak people come to ask Ganesh to cure diseases and external body injuries. The brass-roofed temple houses the tiny image of Ganesh.


The Ganesh image at the Suriya Binayak is dating from the 17th century. It is believed to give the power of speech to children who are slow to talk. This makes it a popular spot for family visits.



The Karya Binayak is a small single-roofed temple. In its altar is a free-shaped stone that takes significance as a symbol of the god. Families come here to ask Ganesh for help in completing difficult tasks.


Those persons seeking strength of character go to worship Ganesh at Jal Binayak. The present temple was constructed in 1602. But pilgrimes may have been coming here for centuries before. A sculpture of Uma Maheshwar carved in the 12th century can still be seen on the platform of the Jal Binayak.


The main image of the shrine is a massive rock. It extends outside the temple at the back and only a small part in front vaguely resembles an elephant tusk. On the struts are carved eight Bhairavs and the eight mother goddesses. Half of the struts on the lower roof depict Ganesh himself with tiny erotic carvings below.


One more interesting temple that I want to mention about is the one near Ratna Park. This unique temple was built in the 17 century by King Pratap Malla. It is interesting that the temple faces not the street but the Rani Pokhari lake. Another interesting thing is that the image of Ganesh in this temple has 16 hands. One hand rests on his belly, the other embraces the figure of his wife and seven hands each on either side hold various symbols. Usually Ganesh is seen with four hands, some figures may be seen with six or eight. Ganesh with 10, 12 or 14 hands are not commonly carved. And this 16-handed Ganesh must be a really rare sculpture indeed. It is believed by locals that if you perform the necessary rituals at this temple you will be got rid of rats s in your house forever. It must have something to do with the fact that the mouse is Ganesh's vehicle.


6 comments:

  1. What's about Ashok Binayak? Ashok Binayak at Marutole is considered as one of the four ganesh. Now it looks like there are 5 ganeshes instead of four.

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    1. Yeah, I too was wondering. According to this text I read the four popular Ganesh facing in four directions of Kathmandu are:
      - Jal Binayak (Kirtipur)
      - Surya Binayak (Bhaktapur)
      - Ashok Binayak (Maru Tole, Kathmandu Durbar Square)
      - Rakta Binayak (Chabahil)

      Other popular Ganesh shrines are
      - Karya Binayak (Bungamati)
      - Kamal Binayak (Kamalpokhari)

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  2. What's about Ashok Binayak? Ashok Binayak at Marutole is considered as one of the four ganesh. Now it looks like there are 5 ganeshes instead of four.

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    Replies
    1. Actually there are much more Ganeshes in the Kathmandu valley but I wrote about most sacred (that I was told about). Anyway, thank you for mentioning Ashok Binayak. I suppose for some people this shrine is among most sacred too.

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  3. how 'bout kamaL BinayaK?

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  4. Mr. Ashis Singh and NK Singh are correct in my opinion-the Main Four Vinayaks are
    Ashok Binayak
    Surya Binayak
    Chandra Binayak [Rakta Binayak]
    Jal Binayak
    Others Being
    Karya Binayak
    Siddhi Binayak
    Kamal Binayak
    Jor Ganesh

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