É Vihara

Home of the Mahasiddhas

The Great One of Uddiyana stays for three months in Nepal,
Vastly benefiting the people of that land,
Among them Vasudhara the Newar.
And then he hides treasures in the Temple of E...
— Yeshe Tsogyal

At the site of É Vihara in Patan, the Lotus-Born laid the foundation for the tantric teachings to flourish in Nepal and beyond. É Vihara was his very seat within this land, and he conversed here with siddhas and lay people alike, in this ancient city of craftsmen and traders. At the same time, this place also served as a jumping-off point for the tantric teachings as they moved north. Texts and teachers streamed forth from here, and skilled artisans who could depict the vast pantheon of the Vajrayana’s enlightened activity.


How to Get There

 

By Taxi: The city of Patan is easily reached within the Kathmandu valley by taxi and bus. Depending on traffic, it takes 30-45 minutes to drive to the main gate from Boudha stupa. One of the most recognizable landmarks in Patan is the Golden Temple. If you get dropped off there, then it’s only a short walk further north along Kwalakhu Road. Veer to the right, around the edge of a square-sided park, and then continue to the north, when the road becomes known as Bagalamukhi Road. You’ll then see a Newar temple on your right—this is É Vihara.

food and accommodation

There are many traditional restaurants where you can sample Newar food, as well as some modern boutique hotels and cafés to enjoy. Of particular note is the restaurant at the Patan Museum, located inside the museum, in the main Patan Durbar Square.


Explore

É Vihara: 27°40'37.1"N 85°19'40.5"E

The É Vihara, known to locals as Yempi Mahavihara and I-Bahi, is located opposite the northern Ashoka Stupa (27°40'37.5"N 85°19'39.9"E). It is fairly easy to find, since one only needs to walk down Swotha Road from Patan Durbar Square for about 500 meters. The street bends to the right, and shortly after this you will see the big white northern Ashoka Stupa and Yempi Mahavihara.

Charnel Ground Where Yeshe Tsogyal Revived A Dead Child: 27°40'46.6"N 85°19'50.3"E

The charnel ground can be reached by walking along the main road from the É Vihara entrance, 250 meters to the north. There is a bridge known as Sankhamul that crosses the Bagmati River, where you will find temples all along the banks. This area would have been an active charnel ground when Yeshe Tsogyal visited. This is where she revived a boy from the dead.


Further Afield

The Golden Temple: 27°40'30.6"N 85°19'29.0"E

The Hiranyavarna Mahavihara (‘Golden Temple’), just north of Patan’s Durbar Square, is a Newar Buddhist architectural masterpiece. Construction of the temple was managed by King Bhaskar Verma in the 12th century and is renowned for the beautiful artistry on its gold-plated interior walls. Since its initial construction, the temple has benefited from many contributions by highly skilled craftsman over the last several centuries. Enshrined in the temple is a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, only shown to the public during certain hours. Other notable Buddhist figures in the temple courtyard include Green Tara and Vajrasattva.

The Mahabuddha Temple: 27°40'08.3"N 85°19'38.4"E

It’s easy to miss this jewel of Patan, as the entrance is a bit of a walk from Durbar Square and the temple is not visible from the street. The main statue and temple were built by priest Abhaya Raj in 1585 after he had visited Bodh Gaya in India. Whilst there, he made plans and a small model of the Mahabodhi temple, and on his return he used them to build this replica. Some say that the main statue was made in Bodh Gaya itself and later brought to Nepal. This monument to Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment has numerous seated Buddha images, carved into each and every brick all the way to the top, giving it its other name, The Temple of One Thousand Buddhas.

Rudra Varna Mahavihara: 27°40'05.2"N 85°19'37.5"E

The Rudra Varna Mahavihara is just two minutes walk from the Mahabuddha Temple. It is one of the oldest and best-preserved viharas of Patan. Its central image is a red-colored Buddha statue.

Arya Bukham: 27°40'13.2"N 85°19'22.3"E

Arya Bukham – also known as Bunga Dyah, or Rato Macchindranath – is located south of Patan’s Durbar Square, and is one of the Self-Arisen Avalokiteshvara Brothers. Arya Bukham resides for half of the year (November-April) in Bungamati (27°37'46.7"N 85°18'07.8"E) and for the other half of the year (May-October) in Patan. During the religious festival in May —the Bunga Dhya Jatra—the statue is brought by chariot in a procession from its residence in Bungamati to Patan.

Arya Akham: 27°40'11.7"N 85°19'27.6"E

Arya Akham, also known as Chakuwa Dyah, or Minanath, is a beautifully crafted golden statue of Avalokiteshvara that was identified by the 4th Khamtrul Rinpoche as the fifth of the Self-Arisen Avalokiteshvara Brothers. The small temple that houses the statue lies in the close vicinity of the Arya Bukham temple.

The Four Ashoka Stupas:

These are the four stupas said to have been commissioned by King Ashoka and his daughter Charumati on their pilgrimage to the Kathmandu valley. Three of the stupas are covered in grass today, while the northern stupa is encased in white plaster. Their locations are as follows:


Next stop on The Journey: The Avalokiteshvara Brothers →