Bhaktapur is a beautiful city adorned with numerous artifacts, temples and ponds. The beauty of this city is further aestheticized with the aesthetics of Siddhapokhari, the largest man-made pond in the town.
‘Ta:’ means big or large and ‘Pukhu’ means pond in Nepal Bhasa, the native tongue of the city. This historical pond is one of the most prominent ponds of Bhaktapur. While we climb uphill from Sallaghari towards Bhaktapur Durbar Square, we can see Siddhapokhari on the right side. This pond covers an area of 2700 sq. km. It is 171 meters long, 73 meters wide and 3 meters deep. Historically, the construction of this pond dates back to the early 15th century during the reign of King Yaksha Malla. This pond was recently renovated in 2054 by Bhaktapur Municipality.
This pond welcomes national and international tourists all through the year. People of all ages love to hang around this place. Children visit this place to watch and feed the fishes and run in the open spaces around the pond, youths visit this place to get together with their friends and loved ones and adults and elderly people visit this place for having a quiet time and taking strolls around the pond. A quick stroll promises the visitors with serene and peaceful environment, picturesque beauty and a connection with the ancient civilization. Similarly, scholars from various faculties and artists are also seen studying and working on the artifacts of the pond.
The artistic patis situated at all four sides of the pond serve as a perfect spot to take rest and glance at the beauty of the pond. Visitors are also seen enjoying watching and feeding the colorful fishes sitting on the pond banks. Clear days offer the visitors views with clear skies and snow-capped mountains too.
The pond is decorated with lighted Diyos (earthen lamps) on all sides during the day of Indra Jatra. People from various places come to observe the beauty of Siddhapokhari on this day.
And the legend says…
An interesting legend goes behind the construction of this pond. According to anecdotes, during the time of Ari Malla, the country faced a huge drought. Being the king, he had the responsibility to save the people of the kingdom from the ongoing drought. So, he consulted a Tantric (sorcerer) and constructed a pond with walls, Patis and gates on all four sides which could fit elephants. The pond also had a Naga (serpent deity) inside. It is believed that the drought came to an end after the construction of this pond.
Another legend says that Siddhapokhari was constructed by King Indra Dev, a king from the Gopal Dynasty. As per the legend, a tantric started mocking the Naga sitting near the pond. Infuriated, the Naga challenged him to come and fight against him. The tantric agreed and decided to turn himself into a serpent. He instructed his friend from Thimi to scatter magical rice grains on him after he came outside. The magical rice grains were meant to bring him back to his human state. After instructing his friend, the tantric went and fought the serpent inside the pond. He became successful in defeating the serpent. However, when he came back, the friend became terrorized when he saw the serpent avatar and fled the situation. The tantric chased him in hopes that he would scatter the magical rice grains at him. However, his friend did not look back and fled to never come back. The tantric, depressed and angry came back to Siddhapokhari and made the place his permanent abode. Legend goes that people from Thimi prefer not to visit Siddhapokhari in the fear of the revenge of the tantric.
Inscriptions in Buddha Chaitya, and statues of Laxmi Narayan and Bishnu Gopal in the eastern side of the pond show that this pond was renovated in the year Nepal Sambat 750 and 798 by Jagat Jyoti Malla and Jitamitra Malla respectively. Similarly, inscriptions also state that the eastern side of the gates was renovated by General Bhimsen Thapa in the year Nepal Sambat 1000.