Sankhadar Sakhwa

Introduction to Sankhadar Sakhwa

Sankhadar Sakhwa is claimed to be the man who began Nepal Sambat in 879 A.D. In Nepal, a special celebration occurs every year during October or November to mark the start of a new year.

The residents of Kathmandu Valley, particularly the Newar community, celebrate high regard known as the Nepal Sambat. During the start of Nepal Sambat, King Raghavadeva was reigning over Nepal.

Mythical Tales and Folk Lores have attributed the beginning of Nepal Sambat to Sankhadar Sakhwa. However, many controversies and pieces of evidence prove the contrary and question the existence of Sankhadar Sakhwa as a mythical hero.

The Tale of Sankhadar Sakhwa

This story takes place in the Kingdom of Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon, where Aananda Malla was the ruler, and his brother, Jayadeva Malla, ruled Kantipur, present-day Kathmandu. One day, an astrologer told the king something shocking.

The astrologer revealed that in the bay of river Bachakhusi and Bishnumati, there was a place named Lakhutirtha where the Baluwa, or gravel sand, had the power to turn into gold if brought at an exact time.

Although initially skeptical, the king agreed to the astrologer’s plans and sent some workers to retrieve the Baluwa from Lakhutirtha. A rich businessman, Sakhwal (Sankhadar Sakhwa), witnessed the workers’ expedition and hatched a plan. He bribed the workers to bring the Baluwa to his house instead of the king’s palace. He then allowed the workers to return to Lakhutirtha to retrieve the Baluwa for the king, but this time, they did so later than the specified time.

When the workers presented the Baluwa to the king, it did not turn into gold as expected. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the workers had replaced the original Baluwa with a fake one and given the real Baluwa to Sakhwal (Sankhadar Sakhwa).

However, Sakhwal (Sankhadar Sakhwa)’s greed did not stop there. He decided to use the vast amount of gold he had acquired to end slavery in Kathmandu and free its citizens from debt. He received approval for this from the King of Kantipur, Jayadeva Malla.

Sakhwal (Sankhadar Sakhwa)’s monumental achievement earned him great respect and admiration. In commemoration, he had a statue made with a Sankha in his hands at the southern gate of the Pashupatinath Temple. This earned him the name Sankhadhar, meaning “the one with Sankha.” Additionally, he started a new era of paying respect to himself, which he named Sankhadar Sambat, which is now known as Nepal Sambat.

Statue of Sankhadar Sakhwa
Statue of Sankhadar Sakhwa

Analysis of Sankhadar Sakhwa

Sankhadar Sakhwa is a renowned person, particularly among the Newar Community. Every year, he is honored and even named a National Hero. But the issue remains: Was he a genuine person or a legendary figure? In this part, we will analyze the facts and complexities surrounding him, as well as if he was a real historical character.

Before digging further, let us start with the most obvious and plain truths. Sankhadar Sakhwa is supposed to have been an alchemist who turned Baluwa, a sort of gravel dust, into gold.

Alchemy is an ancient art that involves changing the qualities of other elements into silver or gold, although it is still in its early stages. Furthermore, the thought of turning gravel dust into gold is absurd and against Common Sense. As a result, the veracity of Sankhadar Sakhwa’s account is called into doubt.

Let us go to the technical aspects of Sankhadar Sakhwa’s narrative, assuming he was actually capable enough to do alchemy. It is said that King Aanandadeva and Jayadeva ruled over Bhaktapur and Kantipur, respectively, during his reign.

However, according to historical sources, the first King of Nepal, Aanandadeva, reigned 265 years after the tragedy, and the second, Jayadeva, ruled 435 years later. As a result, these rulers did not exist during the time span in which Sankhadar Sakhwa was said to have lived.

But what if the king of Sankhadar Sakhwa’s reign was someone else? According to another Sanskritic Chronicle, King Bamadeva and Harshadeva ruled during the reign of Sankhadar Sakhwa. However, since King Bamadeva governed Nepal 200 years after the occurrence, this claim is worthless. As a consequence, the proof for his existence seems to be scant, if not non-existent.

The narrative of Sankhadar Sakhwa can only be found in the Bhasa Bansawali. It is not mentioned in any inscriptions or historical records. As a result, analysing the veracity of this narrative solely based on historical evidence does not seem feasible.


After reviewing the historical data and debating the accuracy of Sankhadar Sakhwa’s account, it is reasonable to say that the majority of historians consider it to be faux and developed.

While his tale is fascinating, there is no convincing evidence to back it up. As a result, it is critical to distinguish and accept the distinction between myths and historical truths.


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Pokhrel, A. (2023). Sankhadar Sakhwa – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History.