A Royal Consolation

Features Issue 106 Sep, 2010
Text by Amar B. Shrestha / Photo: ECS Media

King Pratap Malla (1641-74) abdicated his throne and proclaimed that his four sons would henceforth rule for one year each. One of the sons, Chakrawatendra, died on the second day of his reign, trampled by an elephant. To console his grief-stricken queen, Anantapriya, he built an ornamental pond – Ranipokhari (Queen’s Pond), once known as ‘Nhu Pukhu’ (New Pond) in the Newari language. He ordered the pond to be filled with water from 51 sacred rivers across the country.

At the center of the 3.5 hectare site, the king constructed a Shiva Temple dedicated to Balgopaleshwar Mahadev. It’s open to the public only once a year on Bhai Tika (Brother’s Day) on the final day of Tihar when those without siblings come and console themselves that they are not the only ones without a brother or sister. At the four corners of the pond, he built temples dedicated to Ganesh, Bhairab, Narayan and Saraswati, as well as an elephant on its southern embankment with three male figures on its back and one held in its trunk, depicting the male members of his family.

Such was his benevolence and creativity. Little wonder then, Pratap Malla is regarded as one of the greatest kings of the Malla Dynasty (12th century – 18th century). He also built many temples in Kathmandu, most of which still stand intact. However, with time, the pagoda type Shiva Temple in Ranipokhari fell into disrepair, and it was Jung Bahadur Rana who had it reconstructed in 1908.

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