Text by Nivida Lamichhane / Photo: ECS Media

Nestled in the hills of Sakhu, northeast to Kathmandu, Bajrayogini, also known as Gum Bihar, is a famous tantric temple. It is reputed to shower devotees with it’s great power of blessings.

Bajrayogini stands as proof to the belief that Buddhism existed in Nepal from around the start of the first century AD. Gum Bihar, a Buddhist shrine, was built during the Licchavi period (300-879AD). Manadev repaired the temple as an act of redemption for his sins; he had inadvertently killed his father. He built a stupa in the area, which lies next to the temple of Bajrayogini. Starting from the eleventh century, the people of the area began to divert to Hinduism. It was due to this change of religious focus that the Buddhist Gum Bihar lost much of its attractiveness to the Bajrayogini Temple built in its vicinity. The bronze image of Buddha slowly decreased in importance as the image of Ugratara Bajrayogini attracted most of the worshippers visiting the hill. By the time the Shahs took over rule in the Kathmandu Valley in the eighteenth century, this Buddha image was deprived of its original form and representation.

The much revered Bajrayogini temple

Bajrayogini stands at the shore of Sali Nadi where thousands of devotees throng during the whole month of Magh to take a holy dip and worship Goddess Swasthani. The Bajrayogini temple is three storied, with the main entrance plated with gold. The idol of the goddess has two hands, one holding a sword,  the other a lotus. Her face and hands are painted red and she is adorned with heavy clothing and ornaments. There are smaller images of beasts at her side inside the main temple. There is a beautiful water tap complete with decorative statue in the area which dates back to the fourth century. Besides the main temple the many other interesting temples and caves surrounding it – some of are considered to be older than the temple itself – is what makes this entire area a treasure trove. The courtyard also has a number of yagya kundas, sites designated for fire rituals. During these rituals, offerings are made to the fire god. Yagya kundas are found in other temples in the Valley at Swayambhu and Pachali Bhairav. The presence of yagya kundas in the surroundings of the Bajrayogini Temple is a tell tale sign of the numerous fire rituals where devout devotees offer sandalwood, ghee, and grains in order to please the Agni God for fulfillment of wishes.

The cultural importance of Bajrayogini is immense. As with other significant places of worship, Bajrayogini is an integral part of the Nepali way of life. On a different note, the area was selected for the spot of the 29th Soil Conservation Day celebration in 2009.