SANKHU (alternative name: SAKWA (
Nepal Bhasa : सक्व)) is the
Newar town located in the north-eastern corner of Kathmandu
Valley in about 17 km from the capital city
Kathmandu . Sankhu, also
Shankharapur for its famous ancient Sankha-shaped town
structure, was formerly divided into 3 Village Development Committee
Bajrayogini . Recently the town of
Sankhu has been declared as SHANKHARAPUR MUNICIPALITY merging 3 above
mentioned VDCs and other neighbouring VDCs. At the time of the 2011
Nepal census it had a population of 4333 living in 928 individual
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
and an image of the great master which was originally in the cave has
been taken outside and placed some distance away.
The town used to have 8 gates originally, at all the boundary
entrances of the town. But at present, many got dilapidated and
disappeared while 5 of them were reconstructed namely the Bhau Dhwaha,
Mhyamachaa Dhwakha, Dhunlla Dhwakha, Mahadyo Dhwakha and Naari
Dhwakha. These gates used to have a paati (resthouse), Dhungedhara
(Water Spout;Nepali: 'Dhunge"=Stone, 'Dhara"=Tap or spout) and ponds
next to it but only few of them still exists.
1. Bhau Dhwakha (Bride Gate) - Main entry gate of Sankhu, also the
gate through which new brides are entered in the town.
2. Sangal Dhwakha or Mhyamachaa Dhwakha( Daughter Gate) - It is the
gate from which to bid farewell to a daughter who is married off.
3. Dhunlla Dhwakha or Dya Dhwakha - This gate is important for
Bajrayogini festival. All kinds of ritual processions including the
Bajrayogini enter through this gate.
4. Mahadyo Dhwakha or Si Dhwakha: Dead bodies from
Sankhu are taken
out to funeral through this gate.
5. Naari Dhwakha : During the Shalinadi festival, the Holy god Madhav
Narayan along with the devotees are taken in and out of the town
through this gate. ‘Naari’ is the local name for Shalinadi river.
Before Malla Dynasty in Nepal,
Sankhu was said to be a separate
kingdom. The historical Durbar square (Layaku) has still been
According to the legend Manisailamahavadana,
the priest Jogdev and the first King Sankhadev to build the town of
Sankhu in the shape of a conch shell. The oldest inscription found in
Sankhu is dated 538 AD. There are other stories which says the temple
was built by King
Prakash Malla in 1655. It is one of the best
Sankhu for national and international tourists. 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 (blue) 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
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
RELIGION AND PILGRIMAGE
Padmasambhava made a pilgrimage to Sankhu
where he met Shakyadevi and took her to Yangleshö .
leaving Tibet after his teachings were slandered, stopped in
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(fasting) is a tribute to the God through fasting,
meditation and ritual bathing by women and men 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 30 days at the temple fasting, worshipping and
meditating the god Madhav Narayan. It is believed men & women who
perform this puja or fasting 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
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
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(
जात्रा) when goddesses are taken around
Sankhu within four
gates. The day to bring goddess in
Sankhu is called 'to be brought
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
These area within gates are considered as actual
Sankhu by people
according to cultural beliefs and historical scripts and books but
political division has extended its area.
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