Kathmandu owes its name to this ancient building. The squat, medieval-looking building is especially busy in the early morning hours when the valley’s vegetable sellers set up shop and porters sit awaiting customers. Piles of smoked fish, banana leaves and marigolds spill into the surrounding alleyways.
Although its history is uncertain, local tradition says the three-roofed building was constructed around the 12th century from the wood of a single sal tree. It first served as a community centre where visitors gathered before major ceremonies (a mandap is a 16-pillared pilgrim shelter), but later it was converted to a temple dedicated to Gorakhnath, a 13th-century ascetic who was subsequently linked to the royal family.
A central wooden enclosure houses the image of the god, which is noteworthy since Gorakhnath is usually represented only by his footprints. In the corners of the building are four images of Ganesh.
Across the square is the Kabindrapur Temple (Dhansa Dega), an ornate 17th-century performance pavilion that houses the god of music.