There was a plaque inside Kasthamandap that dated to 1048 which is enough to have made it one of the oldest buildings in Nepal. Kathmandu’s name is most likely derived from this temple due to its proximity between two ancient villages (Yambu and Yangala) that when merged formed the city.
Sadly Kasthamandap was completely destroyed during the April 25th earthquake in Nepal. Current bickering between the local municipality and the department of archeology have hampered its reconstruction.
Kasthamandap was not consecrated so it’s never been a temple. It is in fact a rest house which was converted into a shrine for Gorakhnath in 1379. Gorakhnath is depicted via the central orange colored statue inside.
Did you know?
Gorakhnath was a 10-11th century yogi. He is also where the Gurkhas of Nepal get their name.
Do take a walk through and around the building as there's a small market and a priests house nearby..
It is said that
Gorakhnath attended the chariot procession of Machhindranath while in human form. However a tantric priest recognized him and cast a spell which imprisoned him in the Kathmandu Valley.
Gorakhnath then made a deal with the priest for his freedom. The priest needed wood to construct a building so Gorakhnath made a sal tree grow. The priest then used to the tree to tantrically build Kasthamandap which was dedicated to Gorakhnath.
Another legend mentions a pinnacle which was never constructed. The builders promised to build the pinnacle once the price of oil and salt became equal. This never happened and so the pinnacle was never built.
Some believe Kasthamandap was built much later than the early 11th century. The story of the priest and Gorakhnath changes to say that King Laxmi Narsingha Malla built Kasthamandap using the wood from a single sal tree.
Indeed engineer reports state that Kasthamandap has no metal joints, rivets or nails. Though it should also be noted that the building was extensively renovated in the 17th century.
Whichever is the case there is little doubting the important cultural significance of Kasthamandap. While many pass by this old building barely giving it a second thought. It is in fact one if not the most important buildings in Kathmandu city.
You were free to enter Kasthamandap and walk around. Aside from Gorakhnath statue and the tablet from the 11th century there were four smaller shrines to Ganesh. The second floor was often closed off but houses more smaller shrines.
Sadly the local municipality has fenced off the remaining religious grounds citing that it was a danger. Considering there were no remaining structures this was called into question by many. This included local people living in the area and the department of archeology who questioned that the use of metal poles had damaged the ground around it.
The wood carvings along the buildings struts were of particular note for their craftsmanship. And, again the fact the wooden building had no metal reinforcement yet stood for so long is a testament to its construction or legend.
A walk around Kasthamandap is also recommended as all around the site are various stalls. To the front flowers are sold while to the rear fish and vegetables are sold. To the rear is also a bizarre door that leads to tantric priests house.
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