Sankhu seen from Nagarkot
|Time zone||Nepal Time (UTC+5:45)|
Sankhu (alternative name: Sakwa (Nepal Bhasa: सक्व)) is the ancient Newari town located in the northwestern corner of Kathmandu Valley in about 17 km from the capital city Kathmandu. Sankhu, also known as Sankharapur for its famous ancient Sankha-shaped town structure, was formerly divided into 3 Village Development Committee namely Pukhulachhi, Suntol and Bajrayogini. Recently the town of Sankhu has been declared as Sankharapur Municipality merging 3 above mentioned VDCs and other neighbouring VDCs. At the time of the 2011 Nepal census it had a population of 3788 living in 2545 individual households.
This place is also known as the Eighty Siddhas as there are four of five caves where the siddhas of India are said to have stayed. One of the caves is also said to have been the practice cave of Nagarjuna, and an image of the great master which was originally in the cave has been taken outside and placed some distance away.
The famous Bajrayogini Temple built by Hindu King Raja Prakas Malla in 1655 is one of the best tourist attraction of Sankhu. It enshrines the main sacred representations of this site, Ugra-tara manifesting as Ekazati, which are said to give very powerful blessings, particularly the image in the upper temple. The image in the lower temple is red in colour with one face and four arms, two of which hold a skull-cup (kapala) and knife at her heart, and the remaining two hold a sword and an utpala lotus. In the upper temple is an identical image of Ugra-tara in bell metal, in which her left leg is outstretched. In the upper temple is the loom of the Nepali Princess Brhikuti, spouse of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. In both the upper and lower temples, Bajrayogini is flanked Baghini and Singhini, the Tiger and Lion-headed Yoginis. In the same upper room in the upper temple is a solid bronze standing Buddha and a standing Lokeshvara. Below this shrine room is a small room containing self-arisen (Swayambhu) stupa in stone.
On the hill behind there is a courtyard in the centre of which is a basin containing the “Water of the Kalpa” which never dries up. In the building immediately to the left of the stairs, there is also an eternal fire or “Fire of the Kalpa”. Further up, on top of the hill, is the Mani-linga.
Nearby villages include Palubari.
Religion and pilgrimage
In the Kathmandu Valley Padmasambhava made a pilgrimage to Sankhu where he met Shakyadevi and took her to Yangleshö. Vairotsana, leaving Tibet after his teachings were slandered, stopped in Nepal and offered a golden icon to the monastery of Sankhu. Guru Rinpoche left a number of termas in Sankhu and around.
Sankhu is also the site of the month-long worship to the God Madhav Narayan. The brata is a tribute to the God through fasting, meditation and ritual bathing by women and mens too. It begins on the full moon of the Nepali month of Poush and ends on the full moon of the Nepali month of Magh.
Men & women spend 31 days at the temple, sleeping, eating and meditating. It is believed men & women who perform this puja will have their wish granted. Outside the temple, the riverbank of the Sali Nadi is thought to be the site where Goddess Parvati bathed during her month of meditations dedicated to Swasthani.
The temple of Bajrayogini(Khadgayogini) is one of identity of Sankhu. It is situated on middle of hill. The goddesses are worshipped with high beliefs. The goddesses are known as 'Mhasukhwamaju'(Nepal Bhasa:म्हासुख्वा माजु) means yellow faced Mistress and 'Hyaunkhwaamaju'(Nepal Bhasa:ह्याउंख्वा माजु) means red faced Misstress. The nine days tradition jatra of Mhasukhwamaju and other Baghini, Singhini and a stupa shaped Buddha starts on the day of full moon 'Purnima' and continues for nine days. After the goddesses are brought to Sankhu by locals in a special chariots, they are kept on different places on the basis of rotation within four gates of Sankhu. The fifth day of jatra is known as main jatra(Nepal Bhasa:मु: जात्रा) when goddesses are taken around Sankhu within four gates. The day to bring goddess in Sankhu is called 'to be brought down'(Nepal Bhasa:क्वाहाँ बिज्या) and the day to take goddess is called 'to be taken up'(Nepal Bhasa:थाहाँ बिज्या). These god and goddess are unique than that of other so its importance is high to inhabitants of Sankhu.
Those four gates have their own significance, one of them is the entry and exit gate of goddess Bajrayogini from temple, next to bring bride to groom's house , another to send daughter after marriage and last one to take dead body of human out of Sankhu to burn or bury. These area within gates are considered as real Sankhu by people according to cultural beliefs and historical scripts and books but political division has extended its boundary.
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- http://cbs.gov.np/?p=2444. Missing or empty
- "Swasthani Purnima at Sankhu". Retrieved 18 February 2011.
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