Located in the historic Patan area, a short walk through narrow streets from Patan Durbar Square, the Rudra Varna Mahavihar is thought to be the oldest monastery in Patan. Parts date back to the 13th century, although most of the structure isn’t quite that old. It’s a peaceful and impressive place to visit on a walking tour of Patan.
“Mahavihar” means Buddhist monastery, and the 2-story Rudra Varna Mahavihar sits in a courtyard lined with prayer wheels. The ornate exterior features brass lions and real gold on the doors to the main shrine: a fine example of local metalwork. Behind the monastery building is the Tago Chiva stupa, reminiscent of its larger counterparts at Boudhanath and Swayambhunath. Most visitors come to the Rudra Varna Mahavihar as part of a tour of old Patan.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is a small entrance fee for non-Nepali visitors.
- The ticket to the nearby Mahabouddha Temple is also valid for the Rudra Varna Mahavihar.
- Don’t confuse the Rudra Varna Mahavihar with the nearby Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, otherwise known as the Golden Temple, though both are worth visiting.
How to Get There
Because the streets around old Patan are narrow and easily congested with traffic, it’s advisable to walk to the Rudra Varna Mahavihar from Patan Durbar Square. Head southeast along Mangal Bazar and pass the gold Buddha statue just past the Himalayan Java Cafe. Look out for the signs for the Mahabouddha Temple on the right. From the Mahabouddha Temple, the Rudra Varna Mahavihar is right at the end of the road.
When to Get There
The Rudra Varna Mahavihar is open roughly from dawn to dusk. It is especially busy during important Buddhist festivals, such as Buddha’s birthday (May) and Lunar New Year (January-February).
A short walk from the Rudra Varna Mahavihar is the Mahabouddha Temple. The tall temple is decorated with hundreds (if not thousands) of terracotta tiles depicting the Buddha, and was designed after the sacred Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India. A ticket to the Rudra Varna Mahavihar also allows entrance to the Mahabouddha Temple, so you can combine the two sights in one visit.