About 6k.m. South-east from Banepa, Panauti situated in between Punyemati and Roshi Khola (river), and 46000 ft. high above the sea level is called Panchal Desh, Panauati, panti, Punyevati and Utter Prayag. Installing four dikapalas (guardian deities) in four directions, Ananda Deva, the hen king, founded Panauti by uniting the then scattered small villages with seven hundred peoples in the Kaligat year 4197 (1006 A.D). This is what the old chronicles say. The people here say, "Basuki naga, the serpent deity, is ours. This naga has occupied the area of Panauti for our safety. Therefore, dhiki has never been allowed to use here in order that it might disturb the peaceful sleep of our serpent deity." As a matter of fact, this town rests on one. So, even a single house was not broken down during the great earthquake in 1990 B.S. (1925 A.D.) As it lies in a small valley surrounded by the villages, it is a very important trade center next to Banepa. Nevertheless, most of the people are farmers.
Apart from the valley of Kathmandu, Panauti is famous for the art gallery of fine and beautiful idols, woodcarving in the struts, doors and windows of the temples and monasteries. This is a very holy place. And here a great fair (makar mela) is held in every twelve years in the month of Magha at Triveni
ghat where several idols artistically made of stone are in the temple and in the open places. Also, a chariot festival of Nama-Buddha is held here every year. And the legend has it that Mahasatva who became Nama Buddha afterwards was the prince of Panauti principality.
The principal sanctuary of this city is the temple of Indresvar Mahadev. In some book it is also mentioned that Sri Viramadevi, an influential princess of Bhota (Banepa) dynasty, built 'Aindrakuta' (Indresvar temple) in N.S. 414. 'Aindra' is a Newari derivation of Indra and 'Kuta' is the word, which means building. Newars actually locate a particular episode in the legend of Indra (King of Heaven) on this spot.
The three storeyed temple of Indresvar Mahadev stands on the center of a bigcourtyard with paved bricks. The fine and beautiful wood-carvings of differentkinds of deities artistically cut out in the windows, door, beams, struts and other parts of the temple are not only attractive but also show the craftsmanship of what we call the Newars' culture, and those from the struts expose the epigrams of the epic chiefs of the different mythical periods. The linga erected in the cellar of the Indresvar Mahadev by the princess Viramadevi has, on the celebration days, been covered wih a decoration of gilded plaques embossed with Shiva's images namely Tat Purush, Aghor, Sadyojat and Vamadev and each of the four turns to its own direction.
There are idols of different kinds of deities in the open courtyard round the temple. A very old temple of Visvesvar at the northwest corner and a temple of Unmanta Bhairav in the southern side make this courtyard significant. There are idols of Astamatrikas, the eight mother-goddesses, in the Bhairab temple.
The gold-plate inscription dated NS 512 (1391 H:D) placed inside the Indresvar temple states the glories of Jaya Singharam, a great political personality, who devoted to Narayan and Indresvar Mahadev was great and it was he who honored Jayarjunadev, the king of Banepa, with pushpavishek and Sthiti Malla with Pattavishek.
On the day of Jestha purnima it is said that different kinds of deities, nagas and naginis, and other demi gods and Goddesses in disguise of human beings used to come to Panauti to witness the glorious festival. At first a chariot of Brahmayani is brought to the open space at the ancient durwar square of this town and kept aside. Then a big chariot with an idol of Indresvar Mahadev is carried on men's shoulders to that place. Soon a two-tiered chariot of Bhadrakali is pulled and brought to this place and it is followed by another wooded four wheeled chariot with giant Bhairab with his hands stretched. amongst the crowd of peoples. The chariot of Bhadrakali is kicked and made to collide at its back-side with that of Bhairab. It symbolizes copulation. Then the chariot of Bhairab is pulled out from the back side, and it(Bhadrakali) is collided with the other one of Indresvar Mahadev, when people throw clouds of red powder in the air that anyone of the gods and the goddess. People believe if any person bathes in the holy Tribenighat, his or her all sins will be assuaged.
The Legends of Nepal - Jnan Kaji Manandhar
Provided by Nhuj Nakami