Manamaneshwori Temple -
Kathmandu valley - Nepal
THE MANAMANESHWORI TEMPLE
Even temples and gods lose their cult following
and grow less popular or even get forgotten by the general public.
One glaring example of the once very famous temple that has lost its mass
following is the Manamaneshwori Temple which lies on the northern side of the
Bal Mandir (Sita Bhawan) at Maligaun. Historical evidences show that till the
reign of the last Malla King, Jaya Prakash Malla, the deity was very famous,
even greatly venerated by the kings themselves. This is an example of once
“active” holy places rendered less important and unfrequented over time.
It is said that the temple once had 5,000 ropanis of land registered in its
guthi or guild or trust. There were nine ponds falling in the area between
Naxal, Kamal Pokhari, Gairi Dhara and Gyaneshwor from which lotus were picked
and offered in the temple every day.
At present, only two of the nine ponds exist, namely, Nag Pokhari and Kamal
Pokhari. Today, to its name, only a small grass covered patch of land exists in
front of the temple where local boys play sports. Gone are its patis, or resting
places and hospices. Today, only a well from the olden days exists. We know that
the temple had patis till the early 1970s because of the late Liladhoj Thapa in
his famous novel “Mana” describes about them in detail. In this novel, which won
the author the prestigious Madan Puraskar (award), the heroine takes refuge in
this temple’s patis and gives birth to a child. No such structures can be seen
Today, the temple is an ocherwashed small building with a pagoda-style roof.
Wood-carved windows from the Malla era can be seen in the outer façade of the
temple. These windows are the only adornments of the temple that was once so
famous. The surprising aspect of the temple is its shiva linga, or Lord Shiva’s
phallus. It is huge and quite disproportionate to the temple, which houses it.
It leads one to think that once upon a time, the shiva linga had a greater,
grander temple, befitting its size. The symbolic phallus represents the male
The female deity Manamaneshwori is kept hidden from the public. She is also
known by the name Mana Maiju in Newari. She is the kul devi (deity of the clan)
of the Manandhars of the Newar nation of Kathmandu.
A priest comes to the temple for the daily puja. Compared to the inflow of
devotees in other famous temples around the city, this temple has almost no
visitors today. Looking at the small deserted temple today, one would wonder
whether the sanctum had any glory in the past. But history is replete with the
impressive past of this temple’s dynamism and significance over a long period of
time in the Kathmandu Valley.
source: The Kathmandu Post, 15/2/2005
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