Kakre Bihar – The Iconic 12th Century Temple in Surkhet, Nepal

March 17, 2022

Kakre Bihar is a small hillock in the middle of the Surkhet Valley. On top of this hillock is a 12th-century stone temple, which shows that the people of the region practiced Hinduism along with Buddhism. The carved stones and bronze statues reflect the images of Buddha and many Hindu gods and goddesses including Saraswati and Ganesh.  Boasting an amazing view of Birendranagar, this Kakre Bihar continuously ranks as one of the most important tourist destinations. Thousands of people come to the area for religious purposes as well as to experience the rejuvenating atmosphere of nature. Important archaeological, cultural, and religious exhibits can be found in the city museum, which preserves facts about the place.

The temple has been restored by the Department of Archaeology (DoA). Photo: Sumi Darlami

Kakre Bihar was built during the regime of King ‘Ashok Challa’ of Sinja Kingdom (present-day Jumla) around 1268 AD. It is believed that King Ashok Chalia ruled between 1255 to 1278 AD. He had issued several inscriptions in modern-day Bodhgaya, Bihar, India. In the Bodhgaya copperplate inscription, he refers to himself as “Khasha-Rajadhiraja (“emperor of the Khashas”). King Ashok was a follower of ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ and these Bihars are his symbol of devotion to Lord Buddha. His kingdom Extended up to Trisuli River in the East, Sutlej River-Garwal-Laddhakh in the West, the Khari region of Tibet in the North, and the Terai in the South. Some of the Petrography prove that his political influence was recognized up to Bodhgaya (India).

The under-construction Kakre Bihar Temple. Photo: Sagar B

The Kakre Bihar temple is likely to have Collapsed due to strong earthquakes in AD 1833.  However, archaeologists have theorized that the temple was demolished sometime in the 16th century by the ‘Followers of Shankaracharya’ in a bid to stop the spread of Buddhism. The Department of Archaeology (DoA) has restored the temple to its original structure. Eight craftsmen from Bhaktapur were commissioned to rebuild the temple in the area where the DoA, after 18 years of excavation, unearthed several statues and other artifacts linked with Hindu and Buddhist religions.

Ruins of the temple
Ruins of the temple.

Legend has the iconic temple was a Palace built for the Pandava Princes, characters of the ‘Hindu Epic Mahabharata’. They were supposed to be burnt alive in the palace of lac, but discovered the plans and fled, destroying the palace.

Photo: Nomadicfoodie7
Photo: Nomadicfoofie7