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  World Heritage Sites and Art Complexes
Gum Vihar: Art Complex: Traditional Nepales Arts: Spiny Babbler Museum
  World Heritage Sites and Art Complexes
Gum Vihar
Gum Vihar or Bajrayogini is situated on a hilltop in Sankhu, northeast of Kathmandu City. Hilltops are the preferred location for the temples of yogini goddesses. Bajrayogini Temple at Pharping and Akasayogini Temple at Pulchok, Patan, are other examples of sites for yoginis.

Gum Vihar is stands as proof to the belief that Buddhism existed in Nepal from around the start of the first century AD. This Vihar, a Buddhist shrine, was present during the Licchavi period (300-879). Unlike most of the Sanskrit names given to sites during the Licchavi period and the terminologies from that era which remained in use during the generations that followed, Gum Vihar was assigned its local name meaning the monastery on the hill. So it is probable that Gum Vihar was established and named before the Licchavis. Whenever its construction may have been it was highly revered during the Licchavi period. The vihar received many gifts from Manadev I, who ruled the kingdom from 464 to 505. He repaired the temple as acts of redemption to his sins; he had inadvertently killed his father. Manadev also built a stupa in the area, which lies next to the temple of Bajrayogini. This stupa is covered by a Newari style temple dedicated to Mahamayuri, a Buddhist goddess. Amsuvarma (605-621), another Licchavi king, donated costly gifts, which were calculated second to the amount donated to the Pashupati and Changu Narayan Temples.

Starting from eleventh century, especially after the reign of Sthiti Malla (1382-1395), the people of the area began their diversion towards Hinduism. It was due to this change of religious focus that the Buddhist Gum Vihar lost much of its attractiveness to the Bajrayogini Temple built in its vicinity. The bronze image of Buddha slowly decreased in importance as the image of Ugratara Bajrayogini attracted most of the worshippers visiting the hill. By the time the Shahs took over rule in the Kathmandu Valley in the eighteenth century, this Buddha image was deprived of its original form and representation and was revered by Buddhists as Blacksmith's Queen.

The image of Ugratara Bajrayogini in the temple has two hands, one holding a sword and the other a lotus. Her face and hands are painted red. Other details are covered by heavy clothing and ornaments. There are other smaller images of beasts at her side inside the main temple.

There is also yagya kunda, a place designated for fire rituals. During these rituals, offerings are made to the fire god. Yagya kunda are found in other temples in the Valley at Swayambhu and Pachali Bhairav. The presence of this yagya kunda in the surroundings of the Bajrayogini Temple shows that there have been fire rituals where the people offered sandalwood and others, ghee, and grains in order to please the Agni God for fulfillment of wishes, bringing rain and thus good harvest.

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