Varanasi’s Nepali Mandir which is also known as the Kanthwala Mandir and even Mini Khajuraho happens to be one of the oldest and most famous temples in the city. It is located on Lalita Ghat at a spot lying south-west of the Manikarnika ghat. Dedicated to Lord Shiva this temple was constructed in the 19th century AD by King of Nepal Rana Bahadur Shah. Made of terracotta, stone and wood, the temple is a replica of the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu.
Between the years 1800 to 1804 Rana Bahadur Shah was living in exile in Varanasi and had adopted the title of ‘Swami Nirgunanda’. It was during this time that he had decided to build a replica of Pashupatinath Temple in Varanasi. Construction of the temple commenced during his stay in Varanasi. He then moved back to Nepal but in 1806 Rana Bahadur Shah was stabbed to death by his stepbrother, Sher Bahadur Shah. His son Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah Deva completed the project 20 years later. The land around the temple was later transferred to Rana Bahadur Shah by Kashi Naresh in the year 1843 and even today the temple, adjacent area, Lalita Ghat and a dharamshala belongs to the Nepali government.
This temple made of terracotta, stone and wood took three decades to complete. Interestingly the wood is termite proof. Constructed as per the Nepali style of architecture complete with a wooden pagoda the temple is surrounded by tamarind and peepal trees. Sculptures similar to ones seen at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh have led it to being referred to as ‘Mini Khajuraho’ for obvious reasons.
Sarnath - A Quest Within - Buddham Sharnam Gacchami