Budhanilkantha was a Village Development Committee in Kathmandu District in the Bagmati Zone before being incorporated into City of Budhanilkantha (along with Chapali, Bhadrakali, Mahankal, Bishnu Budhanilkantha, Chunikhel and Kapan). At the time of the 2011 Nepal census it had a population of 15,421.
The Budhanilkantha statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, located approximately 10 kilometers from the center of Kathmandu at the base of the Shivapuri Hill, is the largest stone carving in all of Nepal. This particular statue of Lord Vishnu is taken as the most relaxed avatar of Lord Vishnu. People often describe the placidity around the temple as “very soothing”.
Carved from a single block of black basalt stone of unknown origin, the Budhanilkantha statue is 5 meters in length and it lies in a reclining position inside a recessed pool of water (representing the cosmic sea) that is 13 meters long. Called the Sleeping Vishnu, or Jalakshayan Narayan, the statue depicts the deity reclining on coils of the cosmic serpent Shesha (Shesha is the eternal, multi-headed king of the serpent deities known as the Nagas, and also is the servant of Vishnu). Vishnu’s legs are crossed and the eleven heads of Shesha cradle his head. Vishnu’s four hands hold objects that are symbols of his divine qualities: a Sudarshan Chakra (disc representing the mind), a Sankha (conch-shell representing the four elements), a Kamal (lotus representing the moving universe) and a Gada (club representing the primeval knowledge).
Budhanilkantha literally means “old blue-throat’ and how it got that name is fascinating, as explained by the excellent Rough Guide to Nepal.
In the late 14th century, the Malla king Jayasthiti (1382–1395) is credited with reviving the Vishnu cult by claiming to be the latest incarnation of this often-incarnated god. Subsequent kings of Nepal, most notably Pratap Malla (1641-1674) made the same claim. According to a story originating from this time, Pratap Malla had a divine vision, which resulted in his strong belief and fear that should the King of Nepal visit the Budhanilkantha temple, death would be imminent upon his departure. Continuing to this day the Hindu Kings of Nepal will not visit the temple.
Budhanilkantha is the pilgrimage for the festival – Haribodhini Ekadashi, that takes place during the 11th day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October – November). Attended by many thousands of pilgrims, it is the principle festival for the year in celebration of the awakening of Lord Vishnu from his long sleep.