Ram Mandir and the legend of Battisputali
There were 32 scupltures of fairies placed inside the inner walls of Ram Mandir which led to the place being called Battisputali (32 fairies with butterfly wings). There is an enthralling story behind the fairies installed here.
The ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana written by Valmiki has captivated people from all over the world for centuries. Lord Ram is believed to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is worshipped by Hindus from all over the world for his morality, bravery and intelligence. The tale of Lord Ram’s quest to bring back his beloved goddess Sita from the clutches of demon King Ravana of Lanka has greatly influenced art and culture in South East Asia, and Nepal is no different.
The Janaki Mandir, which is the birthplace of goddess Sita and the holy site where Lord Ram and goddess Sita got married is the most popular temple devoted to Ram, however, there are several other Ram Temples that still exist in Nepal. One of the most revered Ram temples in Nepal is the Ram Mandir of Kathmandu.
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The Ram Mandir
The temple is located in Battisputali, one kilometer southwest of the Pashupatinath temple. The Ram Mandir holds great importance among Hindus. A short flight of stairs from the entrance and leads to the temple. The architecture of Ram Mandir is in Royal Gombaz architecture and has a touch of the Mughal style architecture, due to the influence of the Mughal art and architecture in Nepal in the past.
You will be amazed by the striking interior of this temple which makes it one of the finest Ram temples in Nepal. It is the one of the rare temples where you can see idols of Lord Ram, goddess Sita, along with Ram’s brothers Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan.
The beautiful black stone idols facing east aren’t only the attractions in the temple. Murals, miniature and easel paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses can be seen inside the temple that retell the different events of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Furthermore, there were 32 scupltures of fairies placed inside the inner walls of Ram Mandir which led to the place being called Battisputali (32 fairies with butterfly wings).
The legend of Battisputali (32 fairies with butterfly wings)
There is a fascinating story behind the fairies installed here. According to legend, King Bikramaditya, who started Bikram Samvat (Hindu calendar), had a throne at the place where Ram Mandir currently stands. The throne was discovered 2078 years ago, when the place was a dense forest. While local people were collecting firewood, 32 magical fairies with butterfly like wings guided them towards a hillock where the throne was located.
Some people believe the throne was magically carried and placed there by 32 fairies. Additionally, they also led the locals to a buried treasure chest which was used to build a temple there. There were 32 sculptures of unique fairies inside the Ram Mandir. Unfortunately, now only a few of the sculptures remain. In ancient times, the place was known for gathering of cow herders, who were regarded as knowledgeable and unbiased people.
One of their duties was the administration of justice. People from far away visited the place seeking justice. The people argued their cases and the cow herders resolved conflicts through settlements or judgement.
The History of The Ram Mandir
Although numerous Lichhavi era (400 to 750 CE) artefacts have been discovered in and around the temple, the present-day temple was built about 151 years ago by Colonel Sanak Singh Tandon. He was brother-in-law of Rana Prime Minister Junga Bahadur Rana, one of the most powerful people in the history of Nepal. Rana married his sister Sri Kahila Maharani Sahiba, in 1839 and Rana received huge dowry from the marriage which helped to improve his finances and his influence in the army also grew.
After a series of massacres, Rana later announced himself as the Prime Minister and Commander-in-chief of the Nepal army, becoming more powerful than the king himself. Colonel Tandon was a devotee of Lord Ram and he used to visit the temple every year on midnight, on the occasion of Ram Navami festival on his white horse to offer his prayers. Every year, during Ram Navami, locals claim hearing cries of a horse and sound of temple bells ringing in the middle of the night. There is a portrait of Tandon inside the main temple.
Ram Navami witnesses a grand celebration and enjoyment in this temple. Ram Navami is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Ram to King Dasharath and Queen Kausalya. Hindu couples tie the knot at weddings arranged at Ram Mandir as per Hindu rituals and traditions. It is also a site where Bratabandha, a Hindu ceremony where young boys take the first steps in learning the traditional laws, and rituals are organized.
In the temple complex, there are other temples and sculptures dedicated to other deities of the Hindu religion. To the east of the temple there is a life size sculpture of Lord Hanumana, the eternal devotee of Lord Ram. There are other small idols of Hindu gods and goddesses in the temple. There is an idol of Lord Ganesh in the southeast, Lord Surya or the sun god in the southwest, goddess Bhagwati in the northwest and Lord Shiva in the northeast. There are various smaller Shivalayas in Gombaz architecture in the temple premises.