Nyakachuka, Courtyard of Fives
The name Nyakachuka refers to ‘five courtyards’. At one time, what today is a single, large open space was sectioned into five parts. Originally, there were ten houses on each side, and some of the old buildings still have rows of five carved windows (picture below). The courtyard also once had five kumaris (child goddesses) and five wells.

The five courtyards are now only a memory; but, as if in recompenses, the open space of Nyakachuka is a part dotted with numerous Buddhist stupas and chaityas of varied design and antiquity. The most impressive deity image here is that of Karunayama (the Buddha of Compassion), in black rock, housed in the ground floor of an incongruously modern two-story building in yellow wash. The Bhaskar Youth Club occupies the floor above the one hosting the image of Karunamaya. Youth clubs are a common, recent feature of the Valley towns and bring together young people keen to be involved in neighborhood social work. In the adjacent area, closed off by a low brick wall, is the main cult object of the courtyard, a large chaitya.

Residents of the surrounding houses use the spacious grounds of Nyakachuka for spreading grain, drying laundry, and as a playground. During the harvestseason, rice and wheat are spread on straw mats to dry in the sun. At around the time of the Dasain festival, women winnow rice with the help of the afternoon autumn winds, which children use to lift their fighting kites high above the rooftops.

Along the eastern side of the courtyard (on the right as you entered), at the end of a row of four chaityas, take the opening into a tunnel that leads under five-story building, where a sing asks you to mind your head. The passageway opens into a brick lane. Cross it and continue along a rock-paved alleyway, which enters a passageway under another building. You emerge in a large courtyard, Naga Baha, inhabited by the Shakya Vajracharya and Joshi (astrologer) castes.

(As noted at the top, the visitor is encouraged to explore outlying areas along the Walkabout route on his/her own. For example, from Nyakachuka, rather than enter Naga Baha directly, you can take a northely diversion through a series of four exquisite courtyards starting with Akibaha, inhabited by the business clan of Dhakwas. Exit Nyakachuka by way he north. Turn right into a semi-open space which includes an agam astride a new residence in cement. Enter Akibaha, a well preserved courtyard set off from the city’s bustle and replete full of wood carved windows and Buddhist frescoes. Using narrow, winding lanes and tunnels passing under buildings, you enter tiny courtyards with finely-done, well-preserved chaityas. Passing a six storeyed modern building which has succeeded nevertheless in the presenting some traditional motifs in its brick- and woodwork, you emerge into Naga Baha from the north, near the statue of the white bull.)
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