In the Kathmandu Valley, Vihars and Mahavihars have quite a distinct definition from the rest of the world. Mahavihars, if we translate this word, it means the great monasteries, the center of learning, where monks spend years and years learning and practicing Buddha’s teachings.
However, the traditional vihars and Mahavihars of the Kathmandu valley do not accomplish these things. Instead, these vihars and Mahavihars practice Mahayana Buddhism. It is quite a broad concept to understand. Most of the rituals to be followed here are similar to Hinduism.
To be more precise, It’s actually a symbol of mixed culture and religion. Within the vihars and Mahavihars of the Kathmandu valley, you can find a sanctum of Lokeshwora and images of different gods and goddesses on the struts.
Moreover, Lokeshwora is worshipped as Lord Karunamaya in Hinduism. That means you can find both Hindus and Buddhists dwelling in these places. In Bhaktapur too, there are several such vihars that give visitors a picture of religious harmony. With that, these vihars give a glimpse of Nepalese art and architecture.
Mahavihars are definitely an important spot for devotees. Be it the devotees of Lokeshwora or the Dipankar Buddha, they all go to these places for prayers. Besides, we have classified the following vihars as important vihars because they participated in a few important events, celebrated in the valley, and have Dipankar Buddha established in them. Dipankar Budda, because there are only 5 Dipankar Buddhas in Bhaktapur, who are worshipped on different occasions.
In sum, here are brief descriptions of some important vihars that come under the territory of Bhaktapur Nagara. We hope this article would help you to find vihars in Bhaktapur.
Chatur Varna Mahavihar (Tadhuchhen Bahal)-Sakotha
Chatur Varna Mahavihar is one of the major Mahavihars of Bhaktapur. This Mahavihar might be the most visited Mahavihars of Bhaktapur because it is so near to the Durbar Square Area of Bhaktapur. The Mahavihar is also popular with the name Tahuchhen Bahal, Tadhuchi Bahi, etc. It was built in N.S.611, which means in the medieval period of Nepal.
As in the temples, you can find a pair of lions at the main entrance of this Mahavihar along with the wooden sculpture of Ganga Jamuna. With that, there are beautiful images of Bhairava, stupa, stone mandap, the statue of Lokeshwor, Aakhi Jhyal (traditional windows), Torans, attractive doors, Dipankar Buddha, the carvings on struts are the important factors of this Vihar
Mangal Dharmadweep Mahavihar
Mangal Dharmamdweep Mahavihar is popular as Jhaur Bahi in Bhaktapur. It is located at Golmadhi tole of Bhaktapur. There is also one statue of Dipankar Buddha in this Mahavihar. With that, the vihar has beautiful paintings of different Buddhas painted on the walls.
The Dipankar Buddha here is adorned with blue garments and other jewelry. The vihar was first built in the 13th century. But, today’s architecture is the result of several renovations.
Dipankar Mahavihar, as the name suggests, has a Dipankar Buddha in it. This is also the second most visited Vihar of Bhaktapur after the Tadhuchhen Bahal (Chatur Varna Mahavihar). The vihar is located in the midst of the local habitat, in the inner part of the city. You need to go through alleys and some small passageways to reach this Mahavihar.
While you pass through the Vihar, you can smell the scent of the essence, suddenly giving you a spiritual vibe. The Dipankar Buddha of this Vihar, however, is adorned with a yellow garment.
Jayakriti Mahavihar (Thatu Bahi)
Jayakriti Mahavihar, also known as Thatu Bahi, is one of the oldest Mahavihars of Bhaktapur. Although there is no evidence stating when it was built, yet, the surrounding architecture defines it to be of the Lichhavi period. The Vihar has a lot of significance since the major event of Samyak Dan is done over here. With that, it possesses a Dipankar Buddha.
Indra Varna Mahavihar
Indra Varna Mahavihar is one of the five major Mahaviahars of Bhaktapur. The Mahavihar is located at Inacho Chowk of Bhaktapur, on the way to Muni Vihar from Golmadhi. Since this vihar also has a Dipankar Buddha, it is counted among the most essential vihars of Bhaktapur.
Hence, these are some of the major Mahavihars of Bhaktapur. These Mahavihars not only hold cultural significance but also carries historical evidence of being a symbol of religious harmony.