The Golden Temple also known as the Hiranya Varna or Suwarna Mahavihara is located in the north of Patan Durbar Square. It was founded in the 12th century and it has existed in its current form since 1409. The temple got its name from the gilded metal plates that covers most of its frontage and it is one of the most beautiful temples in patan. Entry is through an ornate narrow stone doorway to the east, or a wooden doorway to the west from interlinked courtyard of Nakabhil. The doorway is flanked by gaudy painted guardian lions. The second door has carvings of Buddha depicting the path of practicing paramita to achieve Bodhisattva. The second doorway leads to the main courtyard of the temple. Shoes, leather articles must be removed to enter the lower courtyard. The inner courtyard has a railed walkway around three sides and the entry is flanked by two stone elephants.
The Golden temple itself is a splendid example of courtyard temple architecture. Inside the main shrine is a beautiful statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. To the left of the courtyard there is a statue of Green Tara and in the right corner is a statue of the Bodhisattva Vajrasattva wearing an impressive silver and gold cape. Facing the main temple is a smaller shrine containing swayambhu chaitya. The four corners of the courtyard have statues of four Lokeshvaras and four monkeys holding jackfruits as an offering.
The main priest of the temple is a young boy under the age of 12, who serves 30 days before handing over to another young boy. A stairway leads to an upper floor chapel devoted to a white eight-armed Avalokiteshvara, lined with Tibetan style frescoes including a wheel of life. As you leave the temple from the eastern exit, look up to see an embossed mandala mounted on the ceiling. The temple is much bigger from the inside than it seems looking from outside. There are falcha-seating spaces along the passages around the temple. The spinning of prayers wheel, butter lamp offerings, sights of devotees putting on red tilak and smell of incense lend the place a calm and meditative tranquility.
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