In the area near Sankhu according to legend there used to be a huge lake where Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and great masters came to meditate.
Sankhu was also the home of Śakya Demma. Unwanted and discarded by her family she had to fend for herself in the wild with the monkeys in the jungle. Still she managed to keep a very clear and stable mind and later became a consort for Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and as such became a very important part in the development of Buddhism in the Himalayas.
Mañjuśrī (the Buddha of Wisdom) also meditated at this this lake. In deep meditation he had a vision of Chakrasambhava and the Yoginis beside him. This vision made Mañjuśrī think that also humans should be able to meditate here.
Mañjuśrī set out to drain the lake, but could not stop the water rushing out. Nobody could help him plug the hole, until he called upon Vajrayoginī (Tibetan:རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་མ་ – Dorjé Nenjorma, one of the highest female Buddhist deities.) and the other yoginis.
Instead of lake there is a long staircase guiding you up to the temple. One of the oldest monasteries in the area.
The temple is made out of brick with beautiful stone and wood carvings and metal ornaments. Surrounding the two buildings are small stūpas and Buddha statues. A cave gives shelter from the elements for those who want to meditate.
Waterspouts (now augmented with metal pipes) bring down water for washing, or purifying oneself before meditating.
The air is thick with smoke from the ceremonial fires, the sounds of pūjās (sung meditation) and the chiming of bells.
A very different and much more peaceful atmosphere compared to the hindu temple halfway down the hill where chickens and goats were brought up for ceremonial sacrifice.
I took these pictures in January 2013, now after the earthquakes it may look quite different. According to a list of damaged monuments, the Sankhu Vajrayoginī temple was partially damaged in the earthquakes this year. Sankhu town itself is very badly damaged, where all buildings collapsed and nearly 100 people died.