A report on Architectural Conservation of Dyalko Vagawan, The Golden Temple of Patan and Nag Baha Hiti.

Student at Tribhuwan University à Prabal Thapa Architects
16 Aug 2017

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A report on Architectural Conservation of Dyalko Vagawan, The Golden Temple of Patan and Nag Baha Hiti.

  1. PUKAR BHANDARI 2070/BAE/225
  2. Location: Nag: Baha:, Patan. Sect: Buddhist. Renovated: 8 years ago. Construction Date: about 120 years ago. Style: Dyocche/ Sattal Type. Deity: Shakya Muni Buddha. Authority: Nag: Baha Community (Dyo: Pala:).
  3.  The origin of the temple began by a small stone monument of Buddha placed on a stone pedestal.  Later on, a family clan of Nagbahal invested in building the building to house the monument.Then after generations the monument inside was stolen and replaced by new stone statue.  About 8 years ago the building was renovated by using new building materials of same kind replacing the old non- usable ones.  Back in the days, the building was used as pathsala (school). It was used to teach the Buddhist preachings to children.  Now the building is used for feasting on upper floor and also for the storage of the old building materials used during the renovation.
  4.  Located almost centrally in Nag baha:.  It is a typical newari styled building with pitched roof with jhingati tiles and brick façade with wooden struts & beams as structural members.  It has a Shakya muni Buddha sculpture in ground floor located centrally as the main deity and mahankal as secondary deity on left side of the main entrance.  On upper floor, feasting space occasionally and storage space.  The building structure is looked after by dyo: palas (members of guthi) .
  5. 1. Statue of main deity Shakya muni Buddha. 2. Interior Worshipping Space. 3. Entrance of the Building. 4. Statue of Secondary Deity Mahankal. 5. Staircase leading to the upper floor.
  6. 1. Storage space in First Floor. 2. Stupa. 3. Dharmadhatu Vajra.
  7. Fig: Kwa: Baha: (Source: Carl Pruscha, Kathmandu Valley,Vol. 2, 1st ed.,Wien 1975)
  8.  Devotees of Buddha gather occasionally for vajan.  Feasting is done on upper floor during festivals.  People worship the deity every day in the mornings and evening.  On the day of purnima regular vajan’s take place.
  9.  It is a typical newari styled building with pitched roof with jhingati tiles and brick façade with wooden struts & beams as structural members.
  10. Preservation of existing condition: • The existing structures should be well maintained and cleaned from time to time. • The temple was reconstructed recently but the materials used are new, while the old materials are kept in first floor. • This original materials should be used as far as practicable. Reconstruction: • The temple should been recently reconstructed, while replacing older materials. Proper approach should be done in order to restore the temple in original form, considering original materials and technology used, as far as practicable.
  11.  The well-organized Nag Bahal community has been actively participating in preservation of the cultural heritages nearby. The traditions and practises must be continued so that both the tangible and intangible heritages are conserved.
  12. Location: Kwalakhu, Patan. Sect: Buddhist. Renovated: 1637, 1955, and about 3 years ago. Construction Date: 12th Century. Style: Bahal Courtyard. Deity: Shakya Muni Buddha. Authority: Hiranyavarna Mahavihar Sudhar Sangh.
  13.  This Buddhist temple complex is believed to have been constructed in the twelfth century by a ruler called Bhaskara Dev Varma.  He was born a Hindu but became a great devotee of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha.  This is one of the 18 main Bahals of Patan.The Sanskrit name of the Bahal is given as “Bhaskerdev Samskarit Hiranyabarna Mahavihar”.  The name of the Bahal was given according to the saying that there was a mouse named Hiranyak with eyes sparkling like diamond.
  14.  Built outside the boundary of the palace of Kirat King Patuk this was called Kwathalakhu Bihar. Later it was called Kwatha Bihar then Kwa Bahal.  Nowadays the Bahal is popular by the name of the Golden Temple.  This Bahal is famous for the Golden Temple inside the Bahal and has been identified as one of the religious centers of the valley.  There is always a huge gathering of devotees in the month of Shrawan for various Puja. People come here to fast as well as request for the reading of the Pragyaparmita.
  15. Fig: Kwa: Baha: (Source: Carl Pruscha, Kathmandu Valley,Vol. 2, 1st ed.,Wien 1975)
  16.  This monastic complex is based on an ancient traditional Buddhist model: a principal deity, a chaitya in the middle and a tantric deity within a courtyard enclosed by a two storied quadrangular structure.  The lower storey contains the images of Vajrasattva, Namasangiti, Aryatara at different sanctums whereas the upper storey contains the image of Amoghapasa Lokeshwara, Amitabha,Tantric deity and living quarter of Chakreswara, most senior Aju of the Bhikshu Sangha.  Beside that, the baha is full of nicely carved stone, bronze, arts and sculptures such as the image of Avalokoteshvara, Manjushri, twelve Lokeshwaras around the Swayambhu Chaitya and other art objects like ghanta,Vajra, monkeys with jackfruits, etc.
  17.  Entry is via an ornate narrow stone doorway to the east, or a wooden doorway to the west from one of the interlinked courtyards on the north side of Elanani.  Over the entrance doorway there are two wooden struts carved with the two most important Hindu gods, Shiva and Vishnu, who guard this Buddhist temple.  It is one of the distinctive features of Hiranya Varna Mahavihar that many strict and elaborate rituals are maintained here which have been abandoned or were never performed in other such monastery temples.
  18. 1. East Entrance. 2. Ticket Counter. 3. Second Entrance 4. Hall. 5. Courtyard. 6. Swayambhu Stupa. 7. Main Temple/Shrine. 8. Aryatara. 9. Stairs. 10. Hall. 11. Bodhisattva Vajrasatta. 12. Manjushree. 13. Lokeshwaras. 14. Way to Ilanani.
  19.  The temple itself is a magnificent example of courtyard temple architecture.  The main temple in the courtyard is a three-tiered rectangular pagoda structure dominating the entire complex.  Its roofs and screened windows, including cornices and struts, are all gilded with gold, hence, commonly known as the Golden Temple.  The temple banners that hang down from the roof to the level of the doorway are remarkable. A legend links them with the Buddha, who used them as a ladder to come down from heaven to earth.
  20.  Two elephant statues guard the doorway and the facade is covered by a host of gleaming Buddhist figures. Inside the main shrine is a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.  To the left of the courtyard is a statue of Green Tara and in the right corner is a statue of the Bodhisattva Vajrasattva wearing an impressive silver-and-gold cape. Both are inside inner shrines.  Facing the main temple is a smaller shrine containing a ‘self-arisen’ (swayambhu) chaitya (small stupa).
  21. Fig:Three-tiered Golden temple as seen from East entrance.
  22.  The four corners of the courtyard have statues of four Lokeshvaras (incarnations of Avalokiteshvara) and four monkeys, which hold out jackfruits as an offering.  A stairway leads to an upper-floor chapel dedicated to a white eight-armed Avalokiteshvara, lined with Tibetan-style frescoes including a wheel of life.  At the eastern exit, an embossed mandala is mounted on the ceiling.
  23.  Ratna Chaitya temple is set perfectly in the middle of the courtyard surrounded by the monastic buildings on all sides.  The chaitya inside the temple is identified with the famous Swayambhu Chaitya in Kathmandu.  Four Nagas (snake gods) hang down from the top of the temple with their heads raised and their eyes watchful; they guard the temple.  According to local tradition this shrine is the oldest part of the complex, older even than the shrine of the principal Buddha.
  24.  Shree Guru Vajrasattva is regarded as the supreme celestial Buddha by Nepalese Buddhists, and as the priest of other Buddhas.  Unlike them he is not represented on one side of a caitya but has independent shrines.  In Hiranya Varna Mahavihar he is to be found in the north-west corner of the ground floor, along with other divinities.
  25.  The holy scripture, Pragya Paramita or The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines, has been preserved here since ancient times and is frequently recited by Vajracharya priests.  It is a common practice of local people to commission such a recitation, either when a member of the family is ill or on an auspicious occasion, such as a wedding.
  26.  On the first floor in the northern wing of the monastery there is a life-size statue of Amoghapasha Lokeshwara.  This deity is brilliant in appearance, with a pure white body and eight arms. The statue is said to date from the early 14th century.  This hall is decorated with murals in the Tibetan style.
  27.  Namasangiti, whose shrine is in the north-east corner on the ground floor, is an emanation of the celestial Buddha, Vairochana.  Just as the goddess Pragya Paramita is an embodiment of the scripture of the same name, so this god is a deification of the important Mahayana and Tantric scripture called the Namasangiti, which is recited every morning as part of the daily liturgy.  Namasangiti is white in colour, has one face with eyes half-closed in meditation, and six arms.
  28.  Mahakala is a Hindu deity of the Brahma group.  He is also one of the eight terrible deities of the Buddhist pantheon, with snake ornaments, sharp teeth, protruding belly, and wearing a tiger skin. He is dark blue in colour.  As he is the defender of land and order, he is placed at the entrance of Buddhist temples.  In four corners of the verandah around the courtyard are four outstanding medieval cast bronze statues of different forms of Lokeshwara.
  29. 1. Kalachakra Mandala carved into the ceiling of Entrance. 2. Second Entrance to the Golden Temple. 3. Main Entrance guided by Male and Female Lion Sculptures.
  30. 1. Details on the main Golden Temple. 2. Main Golden Temple. 3. Door to the inner sanctum.
  31. 1. Swayambhu Temple. 2. Roof Decoration of Swayambhu Temple.
  32. 1. Entry to the inner Courtyard. 2. Statue in the inner courtyard. 3. Prayer Drums and a monkey statue in the inner courtyard.
  33. 1. Close-up of the monkey statue. 2. The Vajra, thunderbolt symbol of the male power. 3. The large Bell, symbol of female power. 4. Bronze Buddha statue inside Golden temple.
  34. 1. Padmanritya. 2. HariHari Haribahana. 3. Trailokya. 4. Rakta. 5. NilaKantha. 6. Mayajala. 7. Karandabyuha. 8. Khadchheri. 9. Mal. 10. Halahala. 11. Khasparna. 12. Shimhanada.
  35.  The principal priest of this monastery is a young boy who must on no account be over twelve years old. With the assistance of an older boy or young man, he carries out the regular liturgical service in the shrine of the main Buddha.  Both priests must be members of the monastery and they serve for a period of one month, during which time they must stay inside the courtyard.  The only exception to this is that twice a day the younger priest circulates the area where most of the monastery members live ringing a bell, at the end of the morning service and before the evening service.
  36.  Sangha of kwa:baha is one of the largest among bahas in Kathmandu. Due this fact many festivals are strictly followed by the members of the sangha.  Dyo: pala system is still active strictly; it involves fortnight/monthly changing of caretaker of the deities present inside the kwa:baha.  There are some fasting such as Vasundhara Dhalan, Sinka dhalan, Astamivrata which one are observed by the newars of the Nagabaha believing that fasting gets his/her desired fulfilled and attain perfect happiness.  The tradition of the recitation of Prajanaparamita in Kwabaha is very popular among the Buddhist newars of Nagabaha.They regard it as a source of protection from evils and help people to generate and increase the religious feeling and sense of devotion.
  37.  Two tantric rites (Sinhah Puja) for the anniversaries of the Grand father Chakra Singh and his brother. Chakra Singh died childless and he donated land to Kwabaha for the annual performance of a tantric rite to Yogambara in Kwabaha.This type of rite is called Dau-puja.  Displaying the two Dipankara Budhhas in Kwabaha during Bahidyabwayegu and at five year Samyak Nagabaha.  The distribution of beaten rice and yoghurt to all the members of Kwabaha at the annual Kwabaha feast called Sangha-bhojan.  Lineage deity worship. On this occasion every member of the Dhakhwa clan male and female is invited to the linage deity feast at Kwabaha.The main turn-holder of the Dakhwas’ guthi organize the feast and on this day they worship Swayambhu Chaitya as Digu-dya and Yogambara as a classical tantric deity of Wotala.
  38.  Constructed mainly with the usage of brick and timber.  Cantilever beams can be seen in the side of building towards the courtyard supported by joists.  Timber posts and Brick walls act as structural elements.  The roof are metallic which is further gilded with gold resulting in the shiny apperence.  Various images of gods and goddesses are sculpted in the metal and stone statues of lokeshwaras.
  39. Location: Nag-Baha:, Patan. Sect: Buddhist. Renovated: Every 4-4 year for Samyak Mahadan. Construction Date: 4th Century. Style: Stone Water Sprout. Deity: Maitri Buddha. Authority: Tol Sudhar Samiti.
  40. Fig: Hiti network across Patan and surrounding areas. (Source:
  41.  Till date, out of the total original 38 hitis in Lalitpur, about 30 are still partially functioning while the rest have either dried up or been buried. (Source: Preserving the Hitis; Joshi, J. )  The construction date of this hiti is unknown but, in the northeast corner of the area around the hiti, a stele about three feet in height with four figures of different Buddhas carved on it dates to the eighth century. (Locke, John K., 1985)  Nagbahal Hiti is Located at Nagbahal and the source of the water is Khwayebahi aquifer southeast of the hiti and is linked to Raj Kulo from Lele/Chapagaun.  Nagbahal hiti consists of three individual stone taps with a large stone image of the Buddha.
  42. Fig: Nag Baha: (Source: Carl Pruscha, Kathmandu Valley,Vol. 2, 1st ed.,Wien 1975)
  43.  The hiti had been dry for a decade and its renovation was contemplated.  The community tried to revive the spout but the source could be traced only as far as 500-600 meters and became impractical as it passed through dense housing area.  Although the renovation could not be completed, the supply of water in the hiti has improved after the restoration work and clearance of the blockage.  The water is available only during the monsoon season.  The inlet channel of this hiti, 9 to12 feet from the ground level, is made of brick.The conduit is 6 to 7 inches deep and about 4 inches wide.The channel has stone and brick collection bowls filled with pebbles to facilitate filtration (KII, 2014).
  44. 1. Main Access. 2. Intermediate Platform. 3. Makara Water Sprout. 4. Jaaru (water Overflow) 5. Ashok Chaitya. 1 2 35 4
  45.  There are three individual makara stone taps at the Nag Bahal hiti attached to the western wall.  Nagbahal hiti is rectangular in plan, splitted down in 2 levels by almost 4ft. depth.  The hiti space has main access from a staircase on the south- east corner leading down a straight flight stone paved staircase.  About halfway down the steps leading to the hiti, there is a large standing stone image of the Maitri Buddha of a later date inside a small temple and a sitting space.  The upper levels of hiti are paved with telia tiles with stone cornices while lower level is paved with stone tiles.  Ashok chaitya ( chaturyuga chaitya) is located above the spout.
  46. 1. Access to Hiti Complex. 2. Staircase leading to the Hiti. 3. Stone Sculpture of Maitri Buddba, 4. Stone statue of Lokeshwaras and Ganesha. 5. Nag Baha Hiti complex.
  47. 1. Three Makara water spouts. 2. Ashoka Chaitya. 3. Close-up Makara Spout.
  48.  Nagbahal is one of the biggest residential courtyards in Lalitpur that was originally a Buddhist monastery. Although the original structure no longer exists, this bahal still retains its religious and cultural significance.  Hiti used daily by community people for water use. Every morning used by users for nii lah: (pure water).  During evening people come to collect water and kid’s play around vicinity of Hiti.  Provides water to more than 250 households in the area.  The hiti has a important role in DipankhaYatra held every 18 years and Samyak Mahadan held every 5 year interval.  Hiti premises is cleaned every year during the day of Sithi nakha (last festival held in annual of newari culture).
  49.  The Hiti lies about 8ft. Below the ground level, divided into two steps.  The hiti space can be reached through straight flight stone paved staircase.  The upper levels of hiti are paved with telia tiles with stone cornices while lower level is paved with stone tiles.  The water spout is made up of Highly carved stone.
  50. 1. Preservation from further deterioration:  The regular inspection of the cultural property should be done.  If any physical damages seen should be treated properly according to its nature immediately.  The electrical pumps, the exposed pipe-works are to be hidden.The cubicle in Pati can be used as pump house.
  51. 2. Restoration:  Attainment of the original state in totality is called restoration. The objective of restoration is to revive the original concept or legibility of the object.  In every renovation stages, whatever is missing (like the serpent carvings, the stone expression of the Hiti, etc) should be worked out to restore.
  52.  Of course Nag Bahal Hiti is preserved, but conservation needs a lot to work out.  The restoration works at different period of times basically put forward its eyes on sustainability of water supply.  But regarding the architectural conservation a lot more has to be done.  The real expression of the ancient Hiti is to be incorporated for rebirth of Hiti as a whole. Even the technology is changed.  This does not explain the ancient technology of stone water spout.