Nyatapola, by its name the pride of Bhaktapurians, raises upon up to its height. Yes, this architecture is just beyond the imagination of a normal person. A 33-meter towering temple, this is not a common sound architectural design. However, it hangs perfectly in the taumadhi square, counting eyes on every house of Bhaktapur Nagar. Consequently, it is perfectly a piece of amazing artwork. Lately, the archeologist and researchers are engaging a lot in its composition. Well, we are not archeologists. But we are one among them who wants to know more about these historical heritage sites. And proclaim it all over the world. For that reason, we have collected some amazing facts about this art species, Nyatapola.
Nyatapola is the tallest pagoda styled temple in Nepal. In the current perception, it is standing as a monumental heritage. People call it Nyatapola dega because it is a sacred five-storeyed temple. People also call it the Panch tale mandir. This temple is more famous for its structure rather than for the deity, established in it. However, there is a belief that those five tiers of Nyatapola are the symbol of the earth, water, fire, air, and the sky respectively. Well, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Shiddhi Laxmi, a powerful tantric goddess. Moreover, this temple is made in the seismic template. Probably because of that, this temple survived all the earthquakes that occurred until today.
Unlike the other constructions, it took only eighty and eight days to be a standing giant structure. Those eighty-eight days include the work from digging to the completion of roofing. Foremostly, the erection of this temple was completed in 822 N.S. Kartik Suddhi Tritiya, by Thursday. That means by the year 1702 A.D.
Who erected it?
Whenever we talk about the kings’ of Bhaktapur, the very first name that strikes in our mind is King Bhupatindra Malla. Right? Perhaps, because of the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla. That pleasantly postured in front of the Golden Gate of the Durbar Square. Despite that, we remember him as an ideal King of Bhaktapur. Of course, he contributed a lot to the art and architecture of this tiny burgh. There, Nyatapola comes among them. Whether he predicted it or not but he was creating history then. Therefore, this was the result of King Bhupatindra Malla’s faith and rationality.
Materials used in Nyatapola
Nyatapola temple was made in such a short period. That it took only 214 days from digging to the completion of the structure, including the placing of its pinnacles. The structure was built in eighty-eight days. But to fix the pinnacle and erect the icons in the Sanctum Sanctorum, they have to wait for another thirty-eight days. The sole pinnacle of Nyatapola is of forty Dharni.
Proximately, all these things became possible because of the joint effort of the king and the public. By the lack of evidence, there are no exact details about the workers. But yes, there are some calculations about the materials used in this project. Building Nyatapola was possible with around 11,35,850 bricks and 1,02,364 telia bricks. They were delivered from Thimi, Bode, and Nagadesh. With that, the stones used to make guardians were from Chovar. Faithfully, all the neighbors helped Bhaktapur with their capacity. Besides Kantipur and Kritipur. At the same time, King Bhupatindra Malla introduced eight brick industries outside the Bhaktapur Nagar.
Likewise, the timbers, five types of timbers were used in the construction. That includes the Chap (Michelia Champaca), Sal (Shorea robusta), Salla (Pinus Roxburghii), Deodar (Cedrus deodara), and Gobre Salla (Pinus roxburghii).
Similarly, the wind bells around each tier of Nyatapola, they seem most likely the expression of this temple. Sitting on its pedestals and having eyes on those wind bells is an exceptional feeling. Practically, it is not possible to count those wind bells just by glaring at those tires. But, they are in the number of 48, 80, 104, 128, and 168, hanging through the tiers, from top to bottom respectively.
Statues and struts
Statues of Guardians
Whenever you pass through those stone steps of Nyatapola. Once in a time, a thought arises in your mind. That is why these stone images are here and what are they? Symphonically, there are five plinths in Nyatapola, where each plinth has a pair of stone images. It is said that they are the guardians of the Goddess Shiddhi Laxmi. From the bottom to the end of the plinth, there is a stone image of wrestlers, elephants, lions, Griffins, and two Goddesses named Sighini and Baghini respectively. They all are placed according to their strengths. The first two wrestlers named Jaimal and Pattu are said to be 10 times stronger than a normal man. Along with that, the elephants, who are considered as 10 times stronger species than those wrestlers are placed above them. With such a ratio, the guardians are placed.
Statue of Shiddhi Laxmi
The foremost deity of Nyatapola temple is the Goddess Shiddhi Laxmi. Since it is a powerful tantric deity. No ordinary people are allowed to enter this temple. So, no one knows how the deity looks besides the priests. But, we can imagine her in our thoughts. The studies about Nyatapola says that the statue of Shiddhi Laxmi is 9 feet tall, carved in black stone. That statue has 9 heads but in three rows. The very first row has 5 heads and is called Chandi Bhadra kali. Similarly, the second row with three heads is called Pratysngira. At last, but not the least, the top acne is called shiddhi Laxmi. This immense and bold statue had eight pairs of hands. Also, there are two figures of Mahakal Bhairav and Masan Bhairav at either side of the statue.
With those stone guardians, you may have noticed the four Ganesh temples in four corners of the Nyatapola. They are the temple of Drighu Ganesh. They were established over there for the protection of the temple.
Just like the stone images, the strut images are also magnificent. Probably, they are the best show of woodcarving. The very first and the second struts have the wooden images of Astamatrika. That means the images of Bramayani, Maheshwari, Kumari, Vaishnavi, Barahi, Indrayani, Mahakali, and Mahalaxmi. Continuously, the struts of the third tier have an image of Lokeshwor. In the same way, the images of Mahalaxmi and Shiva-Shakti are carved in the fourth and fifth tier’s struts respectively. Therefore, this eye-glancing structure is also filled with the most artistic artworks.
The ancient anecdote says that once, Bhairav as his nature was giving trouble to the locals. So, to gain control over him, the Nyatapola was decided to be built. Because Lord Bhairav enshrined the Goddess Shiddhi Laxmi. You can see the sanctum level of Nyatapola is at the same height as that of the first pinnacle of Bhairavnath Temple. That means to Goddess Shiddhi Laxmi dominating Lord Bhairava.
Well, it is also said that the Nyatapola was made that high because the king wanted it to be seen from his palace.
Wanna know more about it
Since this is not open for ordinary people, there are very rare cases of the opening of this temple. Once, on Bhadra Suklaparewathiti, on the same date, a goat is sacrificed over there. With that, a symbolic flag is placed on its pinnacles. Some Awal people behold this kind of job. This job is very risky. Yet, they do it with great joy and belief. This worship is denoted as Barsabandhan puja. By this year, Nyatapola will be three hundred and eighteen years old. Similarly, another occasion is held on Ashadsiddhi when the Pancha prachar puja is done. In simple words, it is called Tha puja, a tantric puja.
Some quick outlines
Location: Taumadhi Tole
Date of erection: 1702 A.D.
The deity of the temple: Goddess Shiddhi Laxmi
Specialty: tallest temple of Nepal ( approximately 33m)