There are different stories regarding the history of the Changu Narayan Temple. Among many, one is that once there was a cow herder who used to take his cow to the Changu hill for grazing. Changu Hill was densely covered by the Champak trees. While grazing, most of the time the cow used to go under the specific tree from which a boy used to come out to drink the cow’s milk. This process went on repetition for multiple days due to which the cow herder was receiving minimal quantities of milk. Noticing this activity of the cow, he was very sad, so he decided to tell his problem to the Brahmin named Sudarshan and called him. After witnessing all these with his own eyes, Sudarshan agreed with the cow herder. The next day they decided to check out the daily activity of the cow. Hiding behind the trunk of the tree, they observed the cow’s activity. During that observation, they saw a boy coming out of the tree and started drinking the cow’s milk. Watching this all, both the herder and Brahmin thought the boy was the devil. Keeping the thought of the tree as the devil’s home, the Brahmin chopped that tree. When he was chopping the tree, fresh blood came out of the tree. Thinking that they had committed a great crime, the herder and the Brahmin got scared and started crying.
After a while, Lord Bishnu appeared from the tree and told the cow herder and Brahmin not to blame themselves. Lord Bishnu told them the story of how he had committed a dreadful crime by unintentionally murdering Sudarshan’s father while hunting in the forest. As a punishment for this crime, along with the Garuda, he collapsed on Changu Hill. Since then, he was feeding on the cow’s stolen milk. When Sudarshan cut down the tree, Bishnu was beheaded, which liberated him from all of his sins. After hearing all these things from Lord Bishnu, the Brahmin and the cow herder decided to worship the place. They even built a small temple in the name of Lord Bishnu. Since then, the place has remained sacred. Even today, we can see the Sudardhan’s descendants as the priest of the temple and the cow herder’s descendants as Ghitiyars(conservators)
Another familiar story is of a mighty warrior Changu who challenged the strongest warrior Pranjal. Around 400 years ago Pranjal was the strongest warrior in the entire nation. However, during the war, Changu defeated Pranjal and won the heart of all the Nepalese people. This temple was a gift to him.
Some people also believe that once a Kashmiri King gave his daughter ‘Champak’ in marriage to the prince of Bhaktapur and the temple was named Changu Narayan Temple after her.
Alternatively, you can do Nagarkot Changunarayan hiking.