Rani Pokhari open for Bhai Tika

All photos: BIKRAM RAI

Rani Pokhari’s Bal Gopaleshwor Temple was opened to the public for the first time after the 2015 earthquake on Monday. The temple had been destroyed five years ago and recently rebuilt  The picturesque temple in the middle of the historic pond is traditionally opened only one day in a year so that people without siblings can pay each other’s respects on Bhai Tika.

The temple was built by King Pratap Malla in 1671 to console his wife Queen Anantapriya who was grieving the death of her son, Prince Chakrawatendra and was rebuilt in the ancient Shikhara style.

Brothers and sister across the Nepali world greet and respect each other on Bhai Tika, and tradition has it that those without siblings go to Rani Pokhari to put symbolic multi-coloured tika and garland on strangers and fellow-devotees.

Despite a cold and overcast day and a pandemic surge in Kathmandu, devotees thronged the temple wearing latex gloves and masks.

The Bal Gopaleshwor temple had been rebuilt after previous earthquakes (including the 1934 megaquake) in the Moghul stucco dome style by Rana prime ministers, and was going to be converted into a concrete-lined structure after it went down again in the 2015 earthquake. But today, the shrine, the causeway and pond perimeter gleam with russet brick.


Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya’s attempt to surround the pond with cafes and shops was also vehemently opposed by the local community. Today, the 350-year old royal pond more or less resembles its original look.