Vajrayogini Temple

Around the Kathmandu Valley

The main reason for visiting the Vajrayogini Temple is not for the temple itself but rather the off-the-beaten-track hike up through Sankhu. The stately temple was damaged in the 2015 earthquake. It lost its three-tiered roof, but it was not destroyed – note the fine gilded doorway flanked by images of Bhairab, Garuda and other celestial beings. The image of the revered female yogi is only visible when the priest opens the doors for devotees (no photos).

The other temple in the main courtyard enshrines a huge chaitya and its roof struts are decorated with images of Buddhist protector deities. Immediately behind this temple is a chaitya with four Buddha images mounted on a yoni base – a striking fusion of Hindu and Buddhist iconography.

To reach the temple, walk north from the bus stand under a colourful deity-covered archway, veering left at the central Dhunla Tole. As you leave the village, an interesting collection of lingam shrines (one-half destroyed by a tree) and finely crafted statues of Ganesh, Vishnu and Hanuman will show you are on the right path. Shortly afterwards the road forks at a bend; turn left and head downhill to reach the pedestrian steps to the temple, or turn right by bike or car to reach the parking area.

The 40-minute climb from the bus station up the stone steps to the temples is steep and hot, but water spouts along the route offer a chance to cool off. About halfway up is a shelter with carvings of a very thin Kali and an overweight orange Ganesh. A natural stone lingam represents Bhairab, and sacrifices are made at its foot. If you climb the stairway above the Vajrayogini Temple, you will reach a rest house for pilgrims and several small tea stands.

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