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GAA: HITI (Dhungedhara)

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You have arrived at Gaa: hiti located in the Gaahiti tole of Thamel. This is one of the 573 dhunge dhara (stoned spouts) in the Kathmandu valley. Gaa: hiti is found on the eastern side of Bhagwan bahal. It is believed to be made by the sisters of Sarthavaha, the legendary trader who went to trade in Tibet in the 7th Century. Thus, Gaa: hiti is considered as a part of bhagwan bahal.

Ga hiti, is a lot more than a water source and unlike other Dhundedharas. This structure underneath the ground level consists of several sculptures of deities famous in Hindu mythology. The sprouts have the structure of Makara, the carrier of Ganga, the Hindu goddess of water. It was Bhagirath who brought Ganga from heaven to Earth. Therefore, there is the presence of Bhagirath underneath the sprout. Other structures that are usually featured in the sprout are cow, goat, elephant, cock, and tiger. 

Before the dhungedhara (stoned spout) was discovered, this open space used to be a marshy pond. People didn’t know that this beautiful blend of art and technology existed within the marshy pond. While renovating the dhungedhara, locals also discovered an old manuscript (shilapatra) which dated this dhungedhara to 738 AD. 

As you can see there are a total of 4 water taps in Gaa: hiti. The main water spout faces west while the other three face south. Several idols of deities from Hindu mythology such as Chepu and Makara are found on the water spout which, as you see, adds beauty to the stone structure while giving it a cultural and religious significance. Likewise, on the top of the spout, there is an idol of Lord Vishnu. On its left lies the idol of Uma maheshwor whereas the idol of Lokeshwor lies on the right. 

Dhunge Dhara is regarded as a traditional waterway in the Newari tribe of Kathmandu valley. They are used for drinking water, bathing as well as washing laundry. The way Dhunge Dhara work is pretty interesting too 

Dhungedhara absorbs the rainwater to form its natural water source. Not to entirely depend on rainwater, several ponds and channels to nearby rivers can also be found in dhungedharas. The working mechanism of dhunge dhara is very interesting. Despite being so old, the technologies used are very advanced. They use gravity to channel the water, have a systematic flow that regulates the water, water purification system, and advanced drainage system to avoid blockage. It is said that the flowing water is cold in the summer and hot in the winters.

Rukmani Wanta Pradhan (2016): Bikramshila Mahavihar

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