Ranipokhari, located in the centre of Kathmandu, is a man-made pond. It is surrounded by a clock tower and the Tri Chandra College in the east, which were built by Shri Teen Bir Shamsher Rana and Shri Teen Chandra Shamsher Rana respectively. Likewise, to the west of Rani Pokhari is Durbar High School, one of the oldest schools in Nepal built by Junga Bahadur Rana. Similarly, to the north of this pond is Biswajyoti Cinema and Ratna Park to the south. There is a temple of Balagopal Mahadev in the middle of Rani Pokhari. This temple is open only one day in a year on the day of Bhai Tika. Ranipokhari is surrounded by an iron fence. Inside the fence of Ranipokhari, a large elephant and a statue of King Pratap Malla, queen and son have been installed on it.
After the death of the eldest son Chakravartendra Malla, King Pratap Malla set out to appease the mourning queen. The pond was built in 1725 BS to make the queen happy. King Pratap Malla also built an idol of himself and his two sons – Mohipaten Malla and Chakravartendra Malla on a statue of an elephant on the south bank of the pond. The pond covers an area of 62 ropanis and 13 annas, which is 180m long and 140m wide.
After the temple gate collapsed in the 1990 BS earthquake, Juddhashamsher gave the Ranipokhari temple its present look. The temple was again damaged in a devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitude on Baisakh 12, 2072 BS. One year after the earthquake, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had inaugurated the reconstruction work on Baisakh 12, 2073 BS. Now the reconstruction work has been completed and its inauguration work has been completed in Kartik 2077 BS.
There is Balagopaleshwar, also known as Yamaleshwar, temple in the centre of Ranipokhari. This temple was built three hundred years ago. The Yamaleshwar (Balagopaleshwar) temple in the middle of Ranipokhari traditionally opens one day a year in Bhai Tika. Recent controversy has revealed that the actual name of this temple is not Balagopaleshwar. As per the red seal of Bhadra, 1871 BS, this temple is named as Gaurishankar. The name of this temple is also mentioned in the Guthi as Gaurishanker.
Myth related to Ranipokhari
There is a legend that a statue of a king is kept on an elephant in Ranipokhari. After the construction of this pool, King Pratap Malla always used to come to bathe in this pool. Thus, while coming to bathe in the pool, the king met a little girl and fell in love with her. Accordingly, that girl became pregnant due to the intercourse between her and the king. Seeing that the king was also losing weight. The brothers and sisters became worried and searched for the reason why the king was losing weight and the love affair between the king and the little girl was discovered.
They also came to know that the little girl was pregnant. When their love story was discovered, brothers and Guru Purohits were in stress and tried to control that little girl by using different techniques. Finally, they built the huge elephant with a king, queen, and prince idols on it and placed the fetus of a pregnant little girl on the foot of the elephant. There is a legend that the idol was set up in such a way that if the front foot of the elephant trampled the baby and the fetus, it would not hurt again.
Rainwater Harvesting System
Ranipokhari to meet the winter water shortage. Rainwater harvesting was started in the Science Building of Trichandra College in 2006 with the initiative of Youth Red Cross Circle, Trichandra College and GASUS Forum and with the support of the UN. Also in 2010, a rainwater harvesting system was installed in two more buildings of Trichandra Campus with the help of WWF. At present, about 2.5 million litres of rainwater is being collected annually from the buildings of Trichandra College. The collected rainwater has been used for recharging and conserving the Ranipokhari, which is drying up due to depletion of groundwater. It has also been used for purifying air water and drinking it in college.
Many must have been surprised by the restoration of the temple located between Ranipokhari, which was damaged by the earthquake of 12 Baisakh, 2072 BS. The former dome-style temple is now built in the Shikhar style. Why such a change? Curiosity can also arise in many.
After the great earthquake of 2015, there was a controversy and campaign for the reconstruction of Ranipokhari. The community protested after the Kathmandu Metropolitan City planned to rebuild in a modern style. As a result, in 2020, Ranipokhari was rebuilt in the traditional style. The Balagopaleshwar temple in the middle of the pond was rebuilt in the Mallakalin Shikhar style.
In fact, the Ranipokhari, established in 1725, was a similar temple during the construction period. The temple was rebuilt twice during the Rana period. The dome style of the temple we saw before the earthquake was a form of the same Rana period. The present renovation has restored the temple to its original form. The return of the temple to its original form is of historical significance.
-By: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal