History and Formation of Tal Barahi Temple
Tal Barahi Temple is one of the most popular temples in Pokhara, the only temple of Nepal that lies in the center of a lake. The temple is an abode of goddess Durga Agima. It is also believed that the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishu’s third incarnation of Wild boar. The stone idol depicts the structure of its nose. The story about the formation of this temple is based on numerous hearsays. Here are some of them the legends related to Tal Barahi temple:
Long time ago, there was no lake. Instead, the place had a huge settlement. One evening, an old Jogi visited this settlement and went door to door asking for a place to stay for the night. An old lady agreed to take him in but she said that she had no food to offer apart from ‘thuto ko roti’. He happily ate the food and slept on the porch. Next day, before leaving he said to the old lady that the settlement area was going to shrink in the water, so she should move to a safer place. The prediction of Jogi came true and the settlement was flooded forming a huge lake in the area. The old lady, however, managed to escape. She died later in 1467 B.S. After her death, people made a statue of ‘Khar’ and started to worship her. A huge rainfall brought some parts of the statue to the present day location of Tal Barahi temple. On the same night of the rainfall, the King of Kaski Kulmandan Shah saw a dream directing him to establish the idol in the middle of the lake. He then established the temple of Tal Barahi.
Another story of the formation of this temple in the middle of the lake is that in the past, the idol of Tal Barahi was established somewhere at the top of the lake (Maghthum). When the water level started to decrease there, a huge rainfall occurred and the goddess floated in the middle of the lake. It is believed that the goddess preferred to be in water so she floated in the present day location of the temple. This story is also followed by the dream of King Kulmandan Shah of Kaski where he builds the temple of Tal Barahi.
The numerous legends of Tal Barahi, the stories of drowning of a village to form Fewa lake because the people didn’t take in a Jogi and the stories of Goddess Bhagwati floating to the middle of the lake and asking a King to establish her in that location through his dreams is a huge hearsay. However, it cannot be denied that Fewa Lake used to extend upto Maghthum. The lake of Fewa originates from the unification of Harpan river and Khare (Andheri) river flowing from the same area. Hence, there are some truths and factual information in the legends of formation of Tal Barahi Temple.
Structure of Tal Barahi Temple
The temple of Tal Barahi is a two storied pagoda style temple. It is situated among numerous species of trees. In the past, the temple was a small hut made of mud, thatched roof and a small window-sized door. The temple was renovated into a majestic and beautiful area in 2017 B.S. by King Mahendra. The renovation project was led by overseer engineer Ram Bahadur Shrestha. Chairman Hikmat Kunwar says that he heard from the engineer himself that the project had been completed with Rs 80,000 only.
We need to climb down the stairs to reach the stone idol inside the temple. It is because the older Tal Barahi temple was a small hut and was situated in a lower height. The outer structure of the temple has an approximately 5 feet tall ‘Jagur’, carved windows on either sides, a round shaped ‘torun’ and 32 ‘Tudal’ around the roof of the temple.
Significance of Tal Barahi Temple
As people who come to venture walk down from Halan Chowk, Tal Barahi is mostly their first destination around the Lake side. You can enjoy a boat ride around the temple, go for prayers and on a good day you can see Mount Machhapuchhre as you get on your boat to the Temple.
People believe that goddess Tal Barahi fulfills wishes of her devotees when asked with pure heart. So, we can find many devotees who visit for good health and happiness. Many provide offerings as a sign of gratitude when their wishes get fulfilled. In the past, there was a tradition of ‘Panch Bhakal’ where people sacrificed five different species together when their wishes came true. However, this practice is not continued anymore.
The temple opens between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning. In the evening, at the bank of Fewa lake, a beautiful Aarati procession takes place dedicated to the Tal barahi temple. Devotees especially visit the temple during the festival of Dashain to worship goddess Barahi.