The Story Behind the Temple Without a Pinnacle

  •   2017-11-23  |  nepaltraveller.com

Located at the top of Maru tole, in the premises of the Basantapur Durbar Square, Maru Ganedya is the only temple without a pinnacle.

In the midst of fine pagoda temples and stone statues of Basantapur Durbar Square, there lies a tiny golden temple with its own unique history, glamorised by the century old tradition and the faith embedded by the people. Ashok Binayak temple, also known as Maru Ganedya is one of the most worshiped Ganesha shrines of Kathmandu.  The temple hosts as one of the four original Ganesha Shrines of the valley. What sets this temple apart from most of the temples is the missing golden pinnacle and the myths that follow its absence.

Medieval Nepalese architecture generally consists of pagoda-style architecture with multi-roofed structures which are supported by carved wooden struts and most importantly topped by a golden pinnacle, known as the gajur in Nepali.  Located at the top of Maru tole, in the premises of the mesmerising Basantapur Durbar Square, Maru Ganedya is the only temple without a pinnacle. However, this peculiarity is not just an architectural characteristic. In fact, it is based on a belief that has engulfed people for centuries. According to legends, long before the Hanuman Dhoka Palace came into existence, the place, where the temple is now located, was a huge jungle and an avatar of Lord Ganesha miraculously appeared. As it was cramped by Ashok trees, people could not add a gajur on top of the tiny temple and hence, named it Ashok Binayak.  Another myth dictates that anybody who attempts to place a gajur on its zenith dies within six months. Thus, people have refrained from inserting a pinnacle on its top.

Attached to the golden replica of Ashok trees, the stone idol of Lord Ganesha represents people’s faith towards the God of beginnings. Surrounded by the rubbles of temples the aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake, Ashok Binayak observes maximum number of devotees paying respect to the elephant-headed lord. For centuries, the temple has served a significant role in both the life of former royal families and the common people. Previous members of the royal family would visit the temple for important events like coronation, Bratabandha(coming of age ceremony for young males) and more. Every year on the eighth day of Dashain, a silver replica of Ganesha is paraded around the city and people present animal sacrifices along with flower offerings. Mondays and Tuesdays are the one of the major auspicious days set apart specifically for Lord Ganesha and one may hardly get enough time to sit and ask for a blessing, so most prefer to do their darshan (acknowledge the Lord) from outside. It is believed that offerings to this temple prior to a long journey assures safety.

 Irrespective of its distinct historical evidence and archaeology, people still visit the temple with boundless desires and wishes. Influencing the lifestyle of people since the medieval era, Ashok Binayak is truly an important asset to the living heritage of Nepal.

Ayusha Pradhananga