Statue of Queen Lalita Tripura Sundari. (Photo: Dr. Lochan Rijal)
The Tripureshwor Mahadev Temple. Sattals & Garden Area (Tripura Sundari) in Tripureshwor, one of the important historical site of Kathmandu, was completely destroyed by the April 25, 2015 earthquake and following aftershocks. The site that was derelict even before the earthquake is now being rebuilt. Built in 1818 AD by Queen Lalita Tripura Sundari in the memory of King Rana Bahadur Shah, the Shivalaya features a three-storey temple, one of the biggest temples built during the Shah Dynasty as well as sattals and a garden.
As one of the most prominent Nepali women in history, Queen Lalita Tripura Sundari played an important role in the Governance of Nepal when she ruled Nepal as a regent for more than 25 year. Queen Lalita Tripura Sundari is also believed by many to be the first Nepali language author for her work ‘Raj Dharma’. She translated a part of the Mahabharata, 70 years before Bhanu Bhakta. She is also credited for building the Dharahara, the tallest monument in Kathmandu Valley as well as the old bridge that connected Patan with Kathmandu. A bronze statue of the queen also stands in the courtyard of the Tripureshwor Mahadev Temple, Sattals & Garden area atop a stone pillar. This complex sustained damages in the earthquake of 1833 AD but was restored. Construction details are inscribed in a pillar that also stands in the temple. The courtyard of the temple was a site for many communal festivals and rituals.
At the centre of the temple complex lies the main shrine, a three tiered structure. The complex is founded on a Panchayan Plan, where Panchayan means worship of five Gods, Shiva taking the central position surrounded by four demi gods. The principal temple base is set on four decreasing brick platform and in the corners of the second platform are four small two-tiered temples. These subsidiary temples house the divinities, Ganesh, Vishnu, Surya, and Bhagwati representing Shiva’s special attendants. The shrine consists of outer wall with triple doorway on all four sides, opening into a circumambulatory path enclosing the inner sacred sanctum with four single doorways in cardinal direction.
The Tripureshwor Mahadev Temple. Sattals & Garden Area is framed within double storey sattal wings. Sattals are generally a long sojourn rest house. The north and south wings of the sattal are double bay construction with a central supporting wall, while the east and west wings are of single bay construction. However it is interesting to know that the original roofs were constructed to create a consistent pitch, which provided a uniform symmetry over different width of the sattal structure.