Legend I: The Origin

Once upon a time, the Great Kalpavrikshya flew down to celebrate Macchindranath Jatra at Lagan Tole disguised as one of us mortals. Our tantric Lopipada, a bit of a showoff in his best days, saw the dignified visitor sauntering about, decided it was a challenge, and took it on as a test of his skills. He cast such a tantra, such a tantra, on Kalpavrikshya that he was immobilized like a rock on the very spot.

After struggling awhile, Kalpavrikshya admitted defeat and pleaded: See here, Sir, if you let me go, I will give you any thing you wish for. Such is my nature and name.

“Oh, I thought you were but a simple tree”, Lopipada said slyly. “Anyhow, I had always wanted to build a large sattal right here in the square and so accumulate merit for the next go-around. When I saw you walking about, I thought your wood would be enough. Give me a replacement tree of similar size, and I will let you go. But you have to stay on in our township until the day salt and oil are sold at the same rate.”

“Very well, I will give you a tree. But do not consecrate it to any god. If you do, the wood will walk away. ” The tantra temporarily loosened, Kalpavrikshya walked the short way to Ikha pukhu, cut a handsome saal tree growing along its fertile edges, delivered it to Lopipada and was released into freedom. Wasting no time, Lopipada collected the best of our simkarmis and started building his sattal.

We set up the enormous four central pillars that was carved out first. All men from Yangal were called in to set these into place, it was quite a spectacle. Then came the expansive supporting beams, the bracketed columns in the upper floors, the rolling balconies that decorate each floor, and all the stairways and windows — strong, durable creations to weather all seasons here in Yangal.

But what was this? Even after all of this carving, almost half of the tree still remained. So Lopipada ordered a bahal built nearby, and we called it Sikhamu bahal.

Perhaps it was Kalpavrikshya’s own style of revenge for Lopipada’s slight, but the wood from the gifted tree was not expended yet. So Lopipada decided to attain further merit by building a smaller sattal, and jokingly named it Silyan Sattal.

The grand sattal, the largest among our public buildings, was called Kasthamandap by the higher-ups in society, but we have always called it Maru Sattal. Lopipada had build the sattal right along our border with Yambu, where the vendors are many and the afternoon gatherings lively. As the sun slants westwards, warm and golden behind Chandragiri, we gather below Maru Sattal’s hanging eaves and tunahs to rest, smoke hukka from the same pipe, and rehash the days events. As per our arrangements with Lopipada, every year during the Sattal Puja, we call out loudly that salt and oil are still not sold at the same price, just so Kalpavrikshya stays around one more year.

Our Lopipada was not only clever, he was also wise. The sattal gives solace to travelers from near and far, because the two trade routes connecting Kuti and Kerung to Nalanda and Ayodhya and beyond to foreign lands, crosses right in front of it. As a result, we always share some corner or other of Maru Sattal with Siddha Swamis from Banaras, traders from Kabul or Kashmir, and pilgrims from Lhasa. Of course, we do not mind sharing.  Travelers always bring interesting stories.

Besides, Maru Sattal has enough space to give rest and comfort to us all.

Please share your thoughts.
  1. Dipesh Risal [Admin] says:

    It may be no coincidence that the hero of our story, Lopipada, bears a name very similar to that of Luyi-pa, a historical figure from early eleventh century, known generally as the first Buddhist siddhacharya (Slusser and Vajracharya, 1974). In the grand style of all things Kathmandu, traditions have melded together to form the complex legend of Kasthamandap.

  2. Mahendra Man Singh says:

    A pleasant read. Children will surely like it and learn about our heritage.