The Jal Narayan Vishnu Temple, commonly called the Budhanilkantha Temple, is a temple of great importance for the followers of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The 5-meter-long statue of the temple is considered to be the statue of Lord Vishnu by the Hindus whereas the Buddhists consider it to be the statue of Lord Buddha. The sleeping idol of Lord Vishnu is the main attraction of the temple (which is popularly known as the Sleeping Vishnu Temple) as it has been carved out of a single black stone and is the largest in Nepal. Unlike other temples, the Jal Narayan Vishnu temple is an open-air temple and the only temple that houses a sleeping statue of Lord Vishnu.
A unique posture of Lord Vishnu can be seen in this statue. Lord Vishnu's legs are crossed and his head is protected by the eleven heads of Seshnag's cradle. With four hands, each of his hands holds a special object that symbolizes some of his most sacred qualities. They are the mace representing knowledge, the lotus representing the moving universe, the chakra/disc representing the marked spirit, and the conch representing the four major elements of the origin of the universe.
The Jal Narayan Vishnu Temple is situated around 10 kilometres from the city centre at the Shivapuri Hill’s base in the northern end of Kathmandu valley in Nepal.
Budhanilkantha is a combination of 2 words, Buddha means Old and Nilkantha means Blue Throat. Bluethroat refers to Lord Shiva but the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is a direct connection between this temple and the famous event of Samudra Manthan. When a deadly poison appeared as a result of the stirring of the sea, Lord Shiva drank it and saved all mankind from its deadly effects. As a result, his throat turned blue. Lord Shiva wanted to quench his thirst and hence he struck a trident at a location north of Kathmandu where a freshwater lake formed. This lake is called Gosain Kund. This water from Gosain Kund feeds the pond of Budhanilkantha Temple on which the reclining idol of Lord Vishnu is placed.
A large fair is organised every year on Haribondhini Ekadashi which is the 11th day of Kartika- a Hindu month which marks the end of 4 months sleeping cycle of Lord Vishnu. This is a special ritual done to wake the sleeping Vishnu.
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