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Kasthamandap Brief History

From the recent archaeological excavations, it has been suggestted that the structure may date back to Licchavi dynasty in the 7th Century AD (Coningham, 2016). Few speculations are also present that the Kasthamandap existed in as far back as 1143 AD (and possibly in 1090 AD). It served as a rest-house for local residents and weary travelers for almost a thousand years. The shrines of different deities were addition in later centuries following intermingling of cultures and religons, including the well-known Gorakshyanath statue established around 1379 AD. There are many legends about Kasthamandap’s origin. The most famous one is the Kalpavrishya (wish Granting Tree) disguised as a human, coming to see the jatra of Harishiddhi. A tantric happened to notice the giant amidst the commoners, suspects him of a divine being and captures the Kalpavrishya with his tantric powers. The Kalpavrishya negotiates his freedom with a grant of a wish to the tantric. The tantric wished that he wanted to make a structure to house all the thirty three million gods in the valley, for which he needed wood. The Kalpavrishya granted a divine seed which would provide the necessary wood for the construction. The tantric after obtaining the wood, made a Kasthamandap and invited all the thirty three million gods for the initiation of the building. The tantric then asked the gods to stay there as long as the consecration ceremony of the building was not done and fixed the date when the prices of oil and salt would be the same. From that day the gods are still belived to reside there as the prices of oil and salt has never been equal. Recounts of the local residents who, during the annual sattal puja, shouted loudly about the price of oil and salt still not being equal, as a means of ensuring the presence of all the thirty three million gods. Other legends have the name of the tantric as Boset or Lilabajra Bajracharya and also Liapa. Kasthamandap stood witness to the timeline of the civilization of the Nepa Mandal. The pavilion was used for many purposes, from royalty-sponsored, as well as communal, religions ceremonies, it was always a communal space, where people came to shop, rest, worship or socialize. Kanphatta jogis, followers of Gorakshyanath, physically lived in the pavilion for centuries until as recently as 1966, until they were forcefully evicted for the restorations.
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