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The Town of 40 Temples and 28 Festivals: “Panauti”

At the confluence of the Roshi and Punyamati rivers, and believe to be locate on one single rock, is a historical Newar town that is one of the oldest in the Kathmandu valley name panauti. Most of the temples, monuments, and satals (community shelters) are build of terra-cotta and beautifully carve wooden columns.

The temples have gilded roofs and wide courtyards. And the remnants of the ancient durbar square are still present in the town center. Located 32 km southeast of the capital, this medieval town is an important cultural site in Nepal, perhaps the most important after Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.

A 15-minute climb north-east takes you to Gorakhnath Hill (2000 ft), from where one gets an overall view of the fish-shaped town as well as panoramic views of the Himalayas.

The town is chock-a-block with temples and other religious sites. Temples are predominant of course, with there being more than 40 temples dedicated to various deities spread around the small one-kilometer town.

There are a half dozen or so stupas and three dyochhens (communal houses in which a deity idol resides in the upper room) along with one bahal (Buddhist shrine). In line with its rich cultural heritage, the small town also has plenty of patis, or public resting places, three dabalis (platform for theatrical shows), and six stone water spouts known as dhunge dharas, besides three public squares known as chowks.

Temples

One of the major temples is the three-storied temple of Indreshwar-Mahadev. Its positions are at the center of a square covered with brick. Its architecture is an excellent example of Newari craftsmanship as are those of temples. The temples includes Krishna Temple, Unmata Bhairav Temple, and Ahilya Temple situated nearby in the same courtyard.

Other temples are the 17th century temple of Krishna Narayan Temple and Brahmayani Temple at the Triveni Ghat.

PanautiPanauti town is actually a combination of six villages (Panauti, Malpi, Taukhal, Subbagaun, Sunthan, and Khopasi), and it has a population of around 30,000. The main casts here are Newars, Brahmins, Chettris, and Tamangs. The Newar are dominant, and thus Panauti is rich in Newari culture. Many of its festivals similar to those of Kathmandu while some are unique with a completely local character.

Twenty-eight different festivals are celebrate every year, with some of the more unique ones being:

Panauti Jatra: Held in the May-June, it is a three-day post-harvest festival . It starts off from the durbar square with deity icons taken around the city on chariots. It culminates in the chariots being banged head-on on the last day to the cheers of thousands of enthusiastic spectators. Plenty of goats and ducks are sacrifice on the occasion.

Makar Mela: This month-long fair is held once every 12 years at Triveni Ghat. The site of the confluence of the three rivers, Roshi, Punyamati, and Lilawati. (The last of which is believe to be visible only to the devout.) Purification is the goal, and this is achieve by taking a dip in the waters. There are about a dozen or so temples dedicated to many gods and goddesses at the site.
Yomari Punhi: Myth has it that, in an ancient era, Suchandra and Krita, a married couple. They experiment with a fresh yield of rice to make a new delicacy which they named yomari (tasty bread). It’s make from a mixture of treacle and sesame seed wrap in a stupa-shape rice dough. Children go around the toles (neighborhood) asking for yomari from housewives.

Panauti Festival Namobuddha festival: It is celebrate three days before Mother’s Day at Namobuddha in honor of Prince Mahasatwo. He sacrifice his body to feed a starving tiger and her cubs. He was born in Panauti and his noble deed occurred in Namobuddha jungle (10 km from away from the town) which thenceforth became a pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists.

Devi Nach (masked dance): A mask dance that originate from Panauti in which deities, demons, and animals are represent through masks. It takes place on the day of Indrajatra.

 

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