On the east side of Kasthamandap in Kathmandu Durbar Square is a small but very important gilded temple known as Ashok Binayak or Maru Ganesh. The temple is a shrine dedicated to Maru Ganesh or Ashok Binayak (Vinayak). While physically separate, the Ashok Binayak is often thought to be a part of the overall Kasthamandap building.
Note that in 2022, the reconstruction of Kasthamandap was completed, and full access to Ashok Binayak is now possible again. It's usually best to visit this area early in the morning, as this is when locals come to worship or pay respects.
It is uncertain how old Ashok Binayak is, although it's often thought to have first been constructed by Gundakama Deva in the 10th century. Historical evidence suggests that the gilded roof is a later addition in the 19th century.
Opposite Ashok Binayak/Maru Ganesh is the deity's gilded attendant (a small mouse/rat/shrew). You'll see it as an elongated mouse statue along the wall of Kasthamandap.
Did you know?
Ganesh is revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, along with being the deity of intellect and wisdom.
Around the shrine is a bell which is rung at the start of any puja. Ashok Binayak is therefore the first temple anyone visits during Puja in all of Durbar Square.
The shrine is also used by anyone undertaking a journey to bring good luck. One simply circles the shrine and rings the bell. This ritual is popular with trekkers, and as you might tell, from the constant stream of people, locals alike. There's a small bowl of tikka should anyone want to use it to bless themselves.
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