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Gokarneshwor Mahadev

The Gokarneshwar Mahadev temple is located in Gokarna, VDC of Kathmandu District in the Bagmati Zone. This temple is one of the oldest and most important temples in Nepal. This temple is in the village of Gokarna, 5 miles east of Kathmandu, on the banks of the holy river Bagmati. There is a magnificent temple of Lord Gokarneshwar Mahadev at the confluence of the Triveni made up of Bagmati, Chandramati and Suryamati and the picturesque environment created by the Gokarna forest. Gokarna is also a famous and important destination for religious and other tourists.


Kathmandu is called Pashupati region in Varaha Purana. There is no definite evidence as to how this temple got its name ‘Gokarna’. Gokarna means cow’s ear. Even so, it has other different meanings. Various meanings of Gokarna have been given in the Nepali Comprehensive Dictionary, including a famous Shaivite shrine in the northeast of Kathmandu, the name of the brother of the famous Dhundhukari of Bhagwat, a deer with ears like a cow, Gaikane Barathe etc.


Due to the fair being held in Bhadra Krishna Aunsi by the same name, it is also called ‘Gokarna Aunsi’. According to some linguistic genealogy, Gokarna is the place where Gokarna, the son of King Vrishakarna of Panchal, established Gokarneshwar Mahadev for the liberation himself along with his father.


The shrine can be reached by taking the road to Sankhu and Sundarijal. It is northeast of Boudhanath. You can simply take the public bus from Chabhiel or Bouddha to Gokarna or can hire a taxi. It takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach there. 

Origin of Gokarneshwor


There are many proverbs, beliefs, and legends about the origin of Lord Gokarneshwar Mahadev. It is mentioned in Nepal Mahatmya that the deer’s horn, in the form of Shiva, was established as Mahalinga by Lord Brahma on the banks of Gokarna Bagmati in the name of Gokarneshwar. The origin of Gokarneshwar is discussed in Devmala genealogy, Bhasha genealogy, Pashupati Purana etc.

History of Gokarneshwor


Among the various Shaivite temples in Nepal, Gokarneshwor Mahadev Temple has been known as an important and famous pilgrimage site since the Satya Yuga. Since the greatness of Gokarneshwar and Jaleshwar is described in Shakti Sangama Tantra and Varaha Purana, it is understood that Gokarna is a very ancient shrine here. Ravana was blessed to conquer the Trilokya by meditating in this temple. Similarly, as Gokarna is an ancient and important pilgrimage, the Bengali King Dharmapala came here. Looking at the stone of Gokarneshwar Mahadev, it is a black natural stone, and its period is prehistoric.


This temple was renovated by King Jayasthiti Malla. The guthi was renovated in 1422 BS and arrangements were made for daily worship and other festivals, but it is not known who built it before and at what time. Archaeologists claim that the temple dates back to the Licchavi period, based on the temple’s artwork and artifacts at Tudal. Also, in the year 703, Gopirana Bharo hoisted the golden urn flag at pinnacle and the ‘Managriha’ built by Licchavi King Mandev I is also in Gokarna, which shows its existence since the Licchavi period.


Art and Architecture


Gokarneshwor Temple is also known as a storehouse of art and architecture. Full of woodwork, this temple is no less than any of the finest temples of the ancient times. The wooden pylons of Yaha and Todal are too admirable. The roof of this huge three-story temple is covered with copper-plated gold. The floor of this temple, which is also covered with copper and gold, is covered with two roofs. Four complete urns, a symbol of good fortune, are hung on the third and upper roofs. On the south side of the temple, on the side of the courtyard, there is a huge bell placed by Lalit Tripura Sundari. The Gokarneshwor Mahadev Temple is made of stone, brick, and wood.


Glory of Kushe Aunsi in Gokarna


On the day of Kushe Aunsi, pilgrims visit the temple of ‘Gokarneshwor’ to remember their dead father and pay obeisance to Mahadev.  It is also said that those who perform shraddha and donate pinda at Gokarna Pitru Tirth in Uttar Gaya, especially in Bhadra Krishna Aunsi, will be able to rescue hundreds of clans like Matrikul, Pitrikul, Bandhu-Sasurali Kuladi. Pilgrims visit this holy place to pay their respects. The fathers are liberated if their sons bathe in the Tribeni Tirtha, the confluence of Chandramati, Suryamati and Bagmati, and by performing shraddha and pinda donation and seeing Lord Gokarneshwor Mahadev and Lord Gadadhar.


Overall, Nepal has been famous as a religious place since ancient times. Gokarneshwor area is also one of these places of various religious significance. The area is famous not only as a religious and cultural site but also as an art, architecture, archaeological and historical site. Here are some records that shed light on the religious, cultural, and political history of Nepal. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare a conducive environment of Gokarneshwor for the planned care, preservation, protection, and promotion of the cultural heritage of the Gokarna region. Only then can these invaluable treasures handed down by our forefathers be passed onto future generations.

-By: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal

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