Situated north of kathmandu, Budhaneelkantha, showing Lord Vishnu sleeping on a coiled snake in the middle of the ocean, is one of the finest example of Nepali art. The reclining stone image of Vishnu 16 ft. long – is only a few kilometers away from town center. It dates back 1400 years to the Lichhavi period.
Located here is a Deity of Lord Vishnu, Vishnu (Narayan) Jalasayana, lying on Ananta Sesa, in the cosmic ocean. The Deity is over 1,000 years old. Lord Vishnu is about 5m (17 ft) long and is lying in a 13m (43 ft) long tank, as if floating, with His legs crossed. His four hands hold the four symbols of Vishnu: the chakra (disc), club, and conch-shell and lotus flower. Budhanilkantha literally means “old blue-throat.” Ananta has 11-hooded heads. It is believed that the deity was carved in the 7th or 8th century during the Licchavi period.
Hindus can walk down the steps and touch His feet, but foreigners cannot. The main festival of the year is when Lord Vishnu, who sleeps on the cosmic ocean during Caturmasya period wakes up on the Haribondhini Ekadashi day in late October or early November. Many thousands of people come on this day.
Three other images of Lord Vishnu were carved at the same time. One is here at Budhanilkantha and is considered the most important and original, one is at Balaju Gardens, and one is at the old Royal Palace in Kathmandu, but can not be viewed by tourist. The king of Nepal is not allowed to see the deity at Budhanilkantha, but he can see the other two deities. It is believed if the king sees this deity of Vishnu he will die immediately.
The deity of Budhanilkantha was lost for a while and was later rediscovered by a farmer. It is believed that the farmers struck the buried deity with his plough and that blood came out from the ground.The morning puja between 9 and 10 am is interesting.
Budhanilkantha is about 8km northeast of Kathmandu and 15km from Thamel, at the base of Sivapuri hill. Buses to Budhanilkantha depart every half-hour from Rani Pokhari or the City bus stand (1 hr, bus #5, Rs 7) in Kathmandu. From where the bus stops the temple is around 100m away. Tempos depart from Jamal on the north side of Rani Pokhari to here.
A taxi is around Rs 175. It is a hard uphill bike ride to here from down town. The ride back is pleasant.
The Mount Shivapuri Lodge, a half hour walk from the temple, has clean room with common bath and hot water for $8.