Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Nepal - 2

Sangha, Paatan & Pokhara

Sangha is 20 Kms from Kathmandu.  Here is situated the world’s tallest statue of Lord Siva with a height of 143 ft. The construction of the statue began in 2004 and was completed in 2011. An entrepreneur, Kamal Jain, was behind this project and we can see his product “Hilltake” tanks and many bill-boards in the place.  There are other interesting activities that visitors can engage in when visiting the statue, including horse riding. Here the tourists can relax at a natural therapy centre and also enjoy services such as spa, massages, as well as a dip in a swimming pool. 

Paatan   is the historical name of Lalitpur sub-metropolitan city. It is the third biggest town after Kathmandu and Pokhara. It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts, especially making of metallic and stone statues. The city had been extensively damaged in the 2015 earthquake and we can see props supporting shaky buildings and reconstruction work being carried out for many important buildings.  The most important monument of the city is Paatan Durbar Square, which has been listed in UNESCO World Heritage list.   The palace square and residence of the Malla rulers of Paatan state which now houses a museum and a Buddhist temple known locally as Golden Temple are among the few that have escaped severe damages and could be still visited and appreciated, giving us an idea how the square would have been before the earthquake.

On our way from Kathmandu to Pokhara, we visited Manakamana temple in the Gorkha district of Nepal, around 90 km from Kathmandu.  It is a temple for Goddess Bhagwati, an incarnation of Parvati Devi. The name Manakamana is a compound of  two words, ‘mana’ meaning heart and “kamana” meaning wish.  It is believed that Goddess Manakamana grants the wishes of all those who make the pilgrimage to her shrine to worship her.   The temple is situated at about 4272 ft at the top of a hill surrounded by a small village overlooking the river valleys of Trisuli and Marsyangdi. There is facility of a cable car from Kurintar to Manakamana. The 10 to 12 minute cable car ride is a picturesque ride across the valley.  Before the installation of cable car service people had to walk nearly three hours uphill to have darshan of the Goddess. The Manakamana temple is four-storied with tiered pagoda style roofs and lies on a square pedestal and is set in a square.  The entrance to the temple is marked by one stone, which is the sacrificial pillar.  There is a tradition of sacrificing animals at the temple. Poultry sacrifice is not permitted now. 

There is a legend associated with the Goddess. It dates back to the reign of the Gorkha king Ram Shah during the 17th century. It is said that his queen possessed  divine powers, which only her devotee Lakhan Thapa knew about. One day, the king witnessed his queen as Goddess incarnation and Lakhan Thapa in the form of a lion. Upon seeing this, mysterious death befell the king. As per the custom of that time, the queen committed Sati on her husband’s funeral pyre. Before her Sati. the queen had assured Lakhan Thapa that she would reappear in the near future. Six months later, a farmer while ploughing his fields cleaved a stone. From the stone he saw a stream of blood and milk, flow. When Lakhan heard an account of this event, he immediately started performing tantric rituals at the site where the stone had been discovered thus ceasing the flow of blood and milk. The site became the foundation of the present shrine. According to tradition, the priest at the temple is always a descendent of Lakhan Thapa. 

After having darshan of the Goddess, we left for Pokhara. Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal and is also a base for trekkers undertaking the Annapurna Circuit as Annapurna ranges in the Himalayas are within 30 miles of the Pokhara valley.   In Pokhara we stayed in Hotel Lakeside retreat, which is a good hotel on the eastern side of Phewa Lake, the second largest lake in Nepal.  Next day early morning we went to Sarangkot to watch the sunrise in the background of Annapurna ranges. But to our disappointment it was a very cloudy morning and the mountain range itself could not be seen clearly, let alone the sunrise.

After breakfast we went on a boat ride in Phewa lake and to Barahi temple, known also as Lake temple which is on an island in the lake. One can even sail or row a hired boat in the lake.  Barahi temple is a two-story pagoda temple and is dedicated to Goddess Durga.   Animal sacrifices are offered here, especially on Saturdays.  

After the boat ride we went to Bindhyabasini Mandir which is located on the top of a hill near the busy Old Bazaar of Pokhara.  This is one of the oldest temples in the Pokhara valley with an immense cultural value and is dedicated to Goddess Bhagawati, Bindhyabasini is considered as one of the main and foremost Shaktipiths of western Nepal.  Here also animal sacrifices are made as offering to Goddess. Along with this white pagoda style temple, there are also other shrines devoted to Lord Siva etc.  The ornate complex of Bindhyabasini temple is surrounded by a park-like landscape. Many come here to enjoy pleasant picnics whilst enjoying the amazing panorama. Spectacular views can be observed from this marvelous vantage point which looks out over the town of Pokhara and surrounding mountain ranges.

From Bindhyabasini Mandir we went to Devi's Falls.  The height of Devi's Fall is 48 metres and it is 1479 metres long. The water forms an underground tunnel after reaching the bottom. This tunnel is approximately 500 feet long and runs 100 feet below ground level.  It is said that Devi's Falls had created the cave beside it called Gupteswar Cave some 500-600 years ago. In the summer season, a big flow of water is seen, but in winter, the flow is slow. Its Nepali name is Patale Chhango, which means “underworld waterfall”   An accident led to the name change from Patale Chhango to Devi's Falls.  On 31st July 1971, a swiss tourist couple Mr, & Mrs. Devis saw the clear pond beside the Fall and went for a swim. Suddenly there was a big surge of water in the fall and Mrs. Devis was swept away and her body was recovered three days later from river Phusre. Her father wished the fall be named after her to which the city authorities agreed and it was named Devis falls which got changed in usage to Devi's falls.

We did not go down to Gupteswar cave as we had to climb down about 300 steps, some of them slippery due to underground springs and as we were also feeling tired, being on the move from early morning. So we returned to the hotel, took rest and next morning returned to Kathmandu. While going out to Pokhara and while coming back to Kathmandu we faced heavy traffic jams as the mountain roads are not good in many stretches and there is only one way out of Kathmandu whether it is to Pokhara, Lumbini or Chitwan. On both occasions at one point we had to wait for an hour for the traffic to move because of the breakdown of a vehicle in the ghat section. Otherwise the whole trip was nice though tiring.   The next day we returned straight to Chennai from Kathmandu


  1. So first Sam's spiritual journey abroad. Lot of inputs on Nepal lovely presented. Thanks and congrats.

  2. Great inputs to the first time readers. Thanks and congrats.