Buddha Nilkantha or Nilkantha Buddha is a grand statue situated at the foot of the Shivapuri Hill. Translated as “blue-throat Buddha” it gained renown for its possession of a remarkable sculpture cast in the image of the Vishnu, a Hindu god. Buddhist take his as a vehicle of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara), the god of compassion. Said to have been made from a single block of rock, it is placed serenely in the middle of a pond, giving one the impression that it is floating.
It is believed to date back more than 1,300 years ago; the exact nature of its origin is uncertain. The story goes that King Suryateku commissioned the creation of the statue, but an earthquake buried it underground. It was later rediscovered, excavated, and restored only after being seen in a vision by the King Dharmagat.
Ironically, though, the kings of Nepal self-forbidding from even laying their eyes upon it, creating a rumour that they will meet instant death if they do so. The belief or irony leads King Pratap Malla to commission a replica of it in Balaju water garden, without any consent from the gods or priests.
It lies on the coils of the great snake Ananta, a cosmic being, whose 11 heads protect the image’s head. The statue’s four hands hold the symbols of the club, chakra disc, conch, and a lotus flower. The statue had a beautiful crown with images of various deities, but it was always covered with cloth or flowers, forbidding the devotees to look at it. The reason is not clear! Over the years, the statue has received decorative silver ornaments, and the original crown of the statue is covered by a part of the silver crown. The new crown has another 11-headed serpent, which is not the original crown and texture of the statue.
The Tibetan Buddhism regards the site as the serpent deities and both Buddhist and Hindus worship.