Itumbaha Infrastructure

Itumbahal Courtyard

The big rectangular shaped courtyard of Itumbahal is connected by kilagul in the north and chokachen gulli in the south. The entrance to proper Itumbahal shrine, Baku nani, Taranani, Sasunani is in the western part of this courtyard. There are about 15 big and small stupas dotted around courtyard including a big white Ashoka Chaitya at the center. The courtyard is so big that locals divide in into two halves and called, Baha-cho the northern half and Baha-ko the southern half.

Baku nani

Baku nani is the distorted version of Baha-ko nani. If a person enters Itumbahal courtyard from south (chokachen gulli), it is the first courtyard, in the left, from Baku-nani one can exit towards Tahanani. It is a small compound with an enshrined stupa at the center. This was renovated in 1853 AD. Once there was a separate Agam Ghar of this Vihara, but now, it became a private propertly. Baku nani is also locally known as Kutum Vihara.


Just on the left side of main entrance of Itumbahal shrine there is a small shrine of Viswakarma (the lord of workman ship) with Toranas and carved wooden door frame. The shrine does not exists now, however, it can be identified with a small lions carved on stone base of entrance into Viswakarma shrine.


The small compound located at Northern border of proper Itumbahal shrine is known as Taranani. This nani is named after Lord Tara. A single roofed one-story shrine of Tara is located at the center of this nani. According to the inscriptions located just out side the shrine, the white Tara and shrine itself has been constructed and donated by Mrs. Jayatra Laxmi Sakya. (Wife of Madan Ram Vardan), in N.S 502(1382 AD), she belongs to Kirtipunya Mahavihar (Lagan Bahal), Kathmandu. The structure was completely collapsed in 1990 earthquake. It was repaired in 2006 B.S. In 2046 B.S. the corrugated metal sheet roof was replaced with copper sheet roof and iron grill put around the Tara shrine.

Inside, there are three statues of White Tara, Pragyaparamita and Green Tara. Beside, White Tara the other two statues in the shrine are of later additions. The Sanskrit name of this vihar is Dharmachakra Vihar.  Earlier, daily rituals of this Tara shrine is performed by elder of sakya lineage, who automatically, becomes a member of samyek guthi, and bear the responsibility of organizing 12 years samyek festivals, but now, daily ritual performance has become a hereditary job. The Sanskrit name of this vihar is Dharmachakra Vihar.

There are 3 stupas in this courtyard, and during the festivals of Gun-la, gods like Dipankars,Gudochandra, and ritual texts are displayed at the basement of northern rows of houses of this compound. A narrow gully in the back side of Taranani exits towards Tahanani.

La- ka nani

In the south east corner of Taranani there is a Well, where it is believed that powerful Jwala nag resides. The Jwala nag is so powerful that it can bite any body any where in the valley. Once bitten a severe itching starts around body and have had to pacify the Jwala nag by offering pujas and cow’s milk in the Well, and draw a small figure of Dragon on the affected areas of body.

The Well is very deep one local’s call it ‘I-Tum’, or deepest one, and the very name of Itumbahal is believed to be derived from the name of this well. It existed even before the foundation of Itumbahal. During the Leechavi period (7th century AD) the sacred water of this well was brought in for bathing Bungadya, before the start of festivals of Bungadya in Patan. The tradition must have been initiated by ‘Bandhu Datta Acharya’ and king ‘Narendradeva’ of 7th century when they first brought in the lord Karunamaya from ‘Kam rup kama khya. The water from this well is offered daily to the kwapadya and in any sacred puja celebration the water is brought in for offering. Because of so many people came to fetch water from this well, this small area near Taranani has been named as La-ka nani (source of ‘water’ compound). The puja offering of this well is done by the Guthi pala of kwapadya. While offering puja the bell must be ringing for, the Naga residing in the well is believed to be a deaf one. It hears only while ringing bell. Once in a year during the festivals of sin-nakha.  Which fall during the 6th day of Jestha, the well is thoroughly cleaned by drawing water from inside.


The compound of sasunani is located at the north of the Taranani. As name suggests this compound has a shrine in the middle of the courtyard with the figure of Manjushree, the god of learning. Sometimes Manjushree has been confused with goddess Sarawati, also a god of learning. Therefore, this area is named after goddess Saraswati. One can exit towards Tahanani from behind this sasunani compound. Locals are ignorant about the foundation period of the shrine. Latest reparing was done in NS. 1099. This nani is also known as Manjushree Vihar.


From the northwest corner of Tahanani, the gulli exits towards small bahal compound known as k-gu-nani. Here a votive chaitya enclosed within a small roofed structure also known as Dhananju chaitya can be found. Another chaitya, located nearby is recently established one. Some of the residents of this compound are jyapus, called as ‘Duin’ from Halchok. They came here to see the festivals of Indra Jatra. Locals nick named this baha as Duin baha. During the festivals of Indrajatra the dance of Sawabhaku is prepared and performed at this compound before moving around the city. The small gulli below a private house at North East corner exit towards Naradevi-kilagal road.

Pa-sa nani

In the west of k-gu-nani, a small compound with main entrance from Naradevi kilagul road is known as Pa-sa nani. Here a big black votive chaitya enclosed within a grilled frame work can be seen. The residents of this compound are Sakyas, Udyas and Jyapus. At the basement of a house facing west, annually displays, the Dipankaras and other ritual objects during the festivals of Gunla, by Uday samaj.

Main Entrance

The main entrance into Itumbahal complex is the narrow passage below the Depuja Agam Ghar from the southern corner of Itumbahal courtyard. The passage exits towards Choka-chen Gulli. The entrance is decorated with stone figures of Ganesh, Mahankal, Bhairabas, Narasingh and some inscriptions pasted against the wall of a private house. Any socio-religions function, for example during birth, initiations, marriage and death of residents inside Bahal is concluded by throwing the residue (Kala- wayegu) just outside this entrance.

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Itumbahal, Kathmandu, Nepal

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