About the Kumbeshwar Temple Complex

Located to the north of Patan Durbar Square the Kumbeshwar Temple Complex (Kumbeshwar Mahadev Mandir) often gets overlooked by visitors to Durbar square and the nearby Golden Temple. What many don't know is the Kumbeshwar temple is one of the best temple complexes to visit in Patan!

The Kumbeshwar Temple Complex
The Kumbeshwar Temple Complex

There are several interesting structures around the temple complex worth seeking out. Including the two hiti's (water basins) which hold the legend of Patan's naming. A fire sacrifice area. Not to mention the actual main Kumbeshwar temple itself among several others.

Many rituals take place around the temple complex every day. Some may not look like rituals at all, so it's important to remain respectful of everyone going about their business in the complex.

The Kumbeshwar temple itself took some mild damage in the 2015 earthquake. You might notice the very top of the temple is a little crooked. The rest of the compound remains undamaged.

Did you know?

The 5 storey Kumbeshwar temple is one of the tallest temples in Nepal.

During the Kumbeshwar festival (July-August) thousands of pilgrims arrive. It is only now that the sacred tap at one of the hitis is opened up to the public.

How Patan got its name from Kumbeshwar

The story goes that a farmer with leprosy from Kathmandu came here because the grass was better for his cow. One day he struck his wooden pole into the ground and discovered a water source.

Hiti inside the The Kumbeshwar Temple Complex
Hiti inside the The Kumbeshwar Temple Complex

That evening on his way back he saw the king passing by. He stepped off the road as was the custom for someone with leprosy. The king however saw no trace of the disease. Indeed, the king found the man so handsome that he gave him a new name “Lalit” or handsome.

The king knew a miracle had occurred and asked Lalit what happened. Lalit showed the king where he found the water source and the king pronounced that a hiti should be placed there.

Another story tells of a man who lost his water vessel on a pilgrimage who found it again at the Kumbeshwar. The word Kumbha in Kumbeshwar means “water vessel”.

Whether any of the above is anything more than legend is up for debate. The fact that there is a water source from the Himalayan mountains at Kumbeshwar may yet be another contributing factor. Perhaps Patan got its name from all of the above combined.

History of the Kumbeshwar temple

The Kumbeshwar temple was built in 1392 by Jayasthiti Malla. It is the oldest temple in Patan and one of the oldest in Nepal. It is also only one of two five-storey temples in Nepal (the other is the Nyatapola Temple in Bhaktapur).

Legend has it that the king had the temple built in the hope of saving his dying wife. She did die but encouraged by his second wife the king had the temple completed.

Inside the Kumbeshwar temple complex

The Kumbeshwar temple complex is perhaps one of the most active in the Kathmandu Valley. It's not overrun by tourists nor locals alike. People simply go about their rituals here on a daily basis. As such, there's much to see here on a good day.

Women lighting ceremonial fire at the Kumbeshwar Temple Complex
Women lighting ceremonial fire at the Balalaika temple in the Kumbeshwar Temple Complex

Firstly, there's the two hiti ponds. Don't be put off by the large iron railings surrounding them. There is a small gate that will give you access to either side. Unfortunately, it's colored like the rest of the railing so it's not do obvious at first where it is!

For the record: the smaller hiti is the more sacred of the two.

Shiva’s mount, the bull Nandi is kneeling in front of the main Kumbeshwar temple. High above the wooden roof tiers look as if they might topple over on this five-storey building.

Within the complex are two other temples. One dedicated to Ulmanta Bhairab and the other newer temple to Bagalamuki.

If you are having difficulty identifying which is which then look out for scorch marks around the Bagalamuki temple as it's where fire sacrifices still take place today!

Kumbeshwar temple renovation

The Kumbeshwar temple started to lean after the 2015 earthquake. Renovation work has begun to repair the central building.

In 2017, several of the buildings and shrines within the complex were freshly painted and cleaned up. The main temple was renovated in 2022.

Entrance fee for the Kumbeshwar temple

There is currently no fee for entering the Kumbeshwar temple complex.

Map of the Kumbeshwar temple complex & Patan

Use this map of Patan for to locate the Kumbeshwar temple complex and other highlights in Patan. For a better map download my full travel guide to Patan

The Kumbeshwar temple complex is located on a main street in north Patan just a short distance from the Golden Temple.

See my travel guide below for full walking directions.


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