Kaal Bhairav, the fifth embodiment of Lord Shiva is one of the less talked about monuments in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Located in the premises of the Hanuman Dokha, it is known to be the most fiercest manifestation of Shiva. The meaning of Kaal is “time” or “demise” hence why, he is often considered the “Lord of death or time”. Kaal Bhairav who originated from Hindu mythology is not only an important deity in Newari culture but, also in Buddhism and Jains alike. Onlookers can see the everyday spectacle of worshippers joining their hands together, bowing down and paying their respect.
In appearance, the Kaal Bhairav is 12ft (3.7m) at height, coal-black and is often depicted carrying the decapitated head of Brahma. It is said that this stone image is the largest image of Kaal Bhairav. Other striking features of the Kaal Bhairav include, ornaments made out of twisted serpents, tiger skin and ritual apron made out of human bones. People believe this stone image was first sculpted in the 5th or 6th century and was later rediscover in the17th century by King Pratap Malla in a paddy field. Upon it’s discovery the King enshrined it within the premises of the Durbar Square.
The Kaal Bhairav temple has also served as the supreme court of Nepal. According, to the legend if one lied before the statue the suspect would vomit blood and perish thus, serving justice to the people. Similarly, it is also believed Kaal Bhairav exhibits signs of a life coming to an end prior to a person’s death. For instance, it is said he casts his shadow on a person 6 months or a year foregoing their death.