An Introduction

Kathmandu, also known as City of Temples stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres (4,600 feet) above sea level in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal. The valley is historically termed as "Nepal Mandala" and has been the home of Newar culture, a cosmopolitan urban civilization in the Himalayas foothills. The city was the royal capital of the Kingdom of Nepal and hosts palaces, mansions and gardens of the Nepalese aristocracy. It has been home to the headquarters of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) since 1985. Today, it is the seat of government of the Nepalese republic established in 2008; and is part of the Province No. 3 in Nepalese administrative geography. Kathmandu is and has been for many years the centre of Nepal's history, art, culture and economy. It has a multi-ethnic population within a Hindu and Buddhist majority. It is also the home of the Newars. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions rub shoulders with the latest technology. The grandeur of the past enchants the visitor whose gaze may linger on an exquisitely carved wooden window frame, an 18th century bronze sculpture or a spiritually uplifting stupa. Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal, is the political as well as cultural capital of the country.


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Geography

Kathmandu is in the northwestern part of the Kathmandu Valley to the north of the Bagmati River and covers an area of 50.7 km2 (19.6 sq mi). It is dissected by eight rivers, the main river of the valley, the Bagmati and its tributaries, of which the Bishnumati, Dhobi Khola, Manohara Khola, Hanumante Khola, and Tukucha Khola are predominant. Kathmandu and its valley are in the Deciduous Monsoon Forest Zone (altitude range of 1,200–2,100 metres (3,900–6,900 ft)), one of five vegetation zones defined for Nepal. The dominant tree species in this zone are oak, elm, beech, maple and others, with coniferous trees at higher altitude. The city generally has a climate with warm days followed by cool nights and mornings. Unpredictable weather is expected, given that temperatures can drop to 1 °C (34 °F) or less during the winter.

Cuisine

The staple food of most people in Kathmandu is dal bhat. This consists of rice and lentil soup, generally served with vegetable curries, achar and sometimes Chutney. Momo, a type of Nepali version of Tibetan dumpling, has become prominent in Nepal with many street vendors and restaurants selling it. It is one of the most popular fast foods in Kathmandu. Various Nepali variants of momo including buff (i.e. buffalo) momo, chicken momo, and vegetarian momo are famous in Kathmandu. Kathmandu has a larger proportion of tea drinkers than coffee drinkers. Tea is widely served but is extremely weak by western standards. It is richer and contains tea leaves boiled with milk, sugar and spices. Alcohol is widely drunk, and there are numerous local variants of alcoholic beverages. Drinking and driving is illegal, and authorities have a zero tolerance policy.

Festivals

Most of the fairs and festivals in Kathmandu originated in the Malla period or earlier. The festivities such as the Ghode (horse) Jatra, Indra Jatra, Dashain Durga Puja festivals, Shivratri and many more are observed by all Hindu and Buddhist communities of Kathmandu with devotional fervor and enthusiasm. Some of the traditional festivals observed in Kathmandu, apart from those previously mentioned, are Bada Dashain, Tihar, Chhath, Maghe Sankranti, Naga Panchami, Janai Poornima, Pancha Dan, Teej/Rishi Panchami, Pahan Charhe, Jana Baha Dyah Jatra (White Machchhendranath Jatra), and Matatirtha Aunsi.

Night Life

Kathmandu is the biggest and the most prominent city of Nepal. In the last decade, this area has seen a rise in the metropolitan urban communities as a result of which there has been an increase in the popularity of nightclubs here. Kathmandu nightlife is majorly concentrated in the Thamel region with varied options of bars, nightclubs, casinos and other places to choose from. These clubs are jam-packed with locals and tourists who are swaying to the lively tunes playing in the background. 

Tourism

Tourism is an important part of the economy; in 2013, Kathmandu was ranked third among the top ten upcoming travel destinations in the world by Trip Advisor, and ranked first in Asia. The city is the gateway to the Nepalese Himalayas, and home to seven world heritage sites: the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka, Patan and Bhaktapur; the Stupas of Swayambhunath and Baudhanath; and the temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan. There are also seven casinos in the city.

Pashupati Nath Temple

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The Pashupatinath Temple is a famous and sacred Hindu temple complex that is located on the banks of the Bagmati River, approximately 5 kilometres north-east of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The temple serves as the seat of Pashupatinath. This temple complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites's list in 1979. This "extensive Hindu temple precinct" is a "sprawling collection of temples, ashrams, images and inscriptions raised over the centuries along the banks of the sacred Bagmati river." Surrounded by bustling arrays of markets, this temple overlooks the glittering stretch of Bagmati River. In the words of every religious visitor, this site is the emblem of spiritual energy.

History of Pashupatinath Temple

According to mythology, Gods sometimes take disguise of animals, birds or men to retire from their cosmic work and enjoy earth. On one such occasion, Lord Shiva and Lord Parvati visited earth in the form of deer. They reached the forest regions of Nepal and were mesmerized by the beauty of the land. When they reached the banks of River Bagmati, they decided to stay there for eternity. When the other gods and saints decided to bring the couple back to their cosmic work, Lord Shiva rejected the offer. With no other option, Gods decided to use force to bring them back. During this colossal fight, Lord Shiva, in the disguise of a deer, lost one of his antlers. This antler was worshipped as the first lingam of Nepal in Pasupatinath. The lingam is said to be reclaimed by Mother Earth and was lost for several centuries, until one day, Kamadhenu, deity in the form of cow came down to earth, irrigated the soil around the region with her milk and retrieved the lingam. The villagers retrieved the lingam and built a wooden temple. The temple is said to be at the site from 400 AD.

Architecture of Pashupatinath Temple

The temple covers 264 hectares of ground, which covers 518 structures inside it. The main temple is built in pagoda styled inside a fortified courtyard. The entire complex is divided into two parts, the inner courtyard and outer complex.The main temple is beautifully carved with wooden rafters. The roof of the temple is made with copper and is coated with gold. There are four main doors to the temple and all the doors are covered with silver sheets. The inner sanctum of the temple holds the idol and the outer sanctum is a corridor styled open area. The main idol in the temple is a stone lingam with a silver serpent. This lingam has four sides and five faces. Each face holds two hands with rukrasha mala and a kamandalu. Once you enter the large arch gate, you will see a golden bull statue, which is said to be the enabler of Lord Shiva. Pashupatinath temple is built in pagoda style. You can find statues of Lord Parvati, Lord Ganesh, Lord Kumar, Lord Ram with Sita, Lord Hanuman and Lord Lakshmi. The structure of the temple holds bulks of gold on the roof and spire. The doors are lined with silver sheets and the large statue of bull inside the temple is also made with gold. Most of the paintings in the temple are made with gold.


Only followers of Hinduism can enter the main temple, but all the other buildings are available for foreigners to visit. From the Eastern bank of the river the main temple can be seen in its whole beauty. The western bank of Bagmati also hosts the so called Panch Deval (Five temples) complex, which once was a holy shrine but now serves a shelter for destitute old people. Numerous religious buildings are also located on the eastern bank of Bagmati, most of them are devoted to Shiva. The majority of these buildings are small single storey constructions made from stone. From the outside these buildings are reminding crypts, but in reality these are sacral buildings, created for holding the symbol of the deity Shiva – lingam (erect phallus). Lingams can be found all over the complex. Along the right bank of Bagmati numerous platforms for funeral pyres are built. The cremations on these platforms are a common activity. Usually tourists have the chance to see at least one open-air cremation.

Entry & Darshan

The temple courtyard has 4 entrances in the cardinal directions. The western entrance is the main entrance to the temple courtyard and the remaining three entrances are open only during festivals. The temple security (Armed Police Force Nepal) and the Pashupatinath area development trust are selective regarding who is allowed entry into the inner courtyard. Practising Hindus of South Asian diaspora and Buddhists of Nepali and Tibetan diaspora are only allowed into Temple courtyard. Practising Hindus of Western descent are not allowed into the temple complex and must go no further than other, non-Hindu visitors. An exception is granted to Sikhs and Jains; if they are of Indian ancestry they may enter the temple complex. Others can look at the main temple from the adjacent side of the river and have to pay a nominal fee of $10 (1000 Nepali rupees) for visiting the hundreds of small temples located in the external premises of the temple complex. The inner temple courtyard remains open from 4 am to 7 pm for the devotee but the Inner Pashupatinath Temple where the Lingam of Lord Pashupatinath is established is open from 5 am to 12 pm for the morning ritual and viewing and from 5 pm to 7 pm for the evening ritual. Unlike many other Saiva temples, devotees are not allowed to enter in the innermost Garbhagriha premises but are allowed to watch from the exterior premises of the outer Garbhagriha.

Swayambhunath Stupa

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Resting on a hillock 3 km west of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath is one of the holiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal. It is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than 2,000 years ago. This stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises. Swayambhu literally means "self-existent one". Believed to date back to 460 A.D., it was built by King Manadeva and by the 13th century, it had become an important center of Buddhism. 


The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha's eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the fashion of a nose. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long staircase leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the south-west entrance. According to Swayambhu Purana, the entire valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning "Self-Created." The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame (svyaṃbhu) over which a sūpa was later built. There are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning, was raising the hill which the stupa stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he made it grow long and head lice grew. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys. Manjusri had a vision of the Lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley could be a good settlement, and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, he cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The Lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower became the stupa.

Architecture of Swayambhunath Tmple

The base of this stupa is cube shaped. On all four sides, there is a pentagon shaped Toran. On each side of the stupa, a pair of eyes is present. This indicates that the God is omnipresent. Above each pair of eyes, there is another eye, which is the eye of wisdom. There is Panch Buddha (five Buddhas) on each side of the stupa. Walk a past the stairs leading to the temple and you will find two lion statues guarding the entrance. This staircase is the most recommended route that pilgrims take to enter the stupa, on foot. However, if you are ready to drive to the west side of the stupa, you can find another entrance; with lesser steps.


At the bottom of the staircase on the eastern side, there is a large gate with 12 feet tall Tibetan prayer wheel. It would take two strong people to move the wheel. For every revolution, a bell sound is heard. Near the gate, there are numerous small wheels for tourists to spin and perform prayers. Right before the stairs, you will find three 17th century Buddha statues. These statues are worshipped by women. Along the stairs, you will find many inscribed Tibetan stones. You can also spot small shops where merchants sell such stone replicas to tourists. The stairs will take you through forest region inhabited with numerous monkeys.


The main stupa building is a white domed structure. The stupa is filled with numerous statues and artefacts. From the tower, you can find a 13 level golden spire. The umbrella on top of the spire holds a bowl full of precious stones. There are numerous other shrines around this main building. Each one was donated by kings and other political figures.

Symbolism

The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (represented by eyes of wisdom and compassion) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state of enlightenment. The thirteen pinnacles on the top symbolize that sentient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of spiritual realizations to reach enlightenment or Buddhahood. There is a large pair of eyes on each of the four sides of the main stupa which represent Wisdom and Compassion. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. It is said that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which acts as messages to heavenly beings so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha's teaching, however, the cosmic rays relieve their suffering when Buddha preaches. Between the two eyes (also called Wisdom Eyes), a curly symbol, symbolizing the nose, is depicted which looks like a question mark, which is a Nepali sign of number figure one. This sign represents the unity of all things existing in the world as well as the only path to enlightenment through the teachings of Buddha. There are carvings of the Panch Buddhas (five Buddhas) on each of the four sides of the stupa. There are also statues of the Buddhas at the base of the stupas. Panch Buddhas are Buddha in a metaphorical sense in Tantrayana.

Entry & Darshan

The temple remains open throughout the week from dawn to dusk. There is no constraint to visit this temple. People of any creed or religion can visit this temple. There is no entry fee for locals and children below 10 years of age.

Patan Durbar Square

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Patan Durbar Square is situated at the centre of the city of Lalitpur in Nepal. It is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Durbar Square is a marvel of Newar architecture. The square floor is tiled with red bricks. There are many temples and idols in the area. The main temples are aligned opposite of the western face of the palace. The entrance of the temples faces east, towards the palace. There is also a bell situated in the alignment beside the main temples. The Square also holds old Newari residential houses. There are other temples and structures in and around Patan Durbar Square built by the Newa People. The square was heavily damaged by the earthquake in April 2015.

Architecture of Durbar Square

Most of the temples and monuments in this Square were built in 17th century. This Square was considered as the center of Hinduism and Buddhism. It had 136 courtyard in the past, containing more than 55 temples. Today, only a handful stands with the passage of time. Each temple and monument has different architectural style to portrait the cultural importance of the religion. Most of the structures have a hint or are completely built in Shikara Architecture. Most significant material used is the stone. However, wood structures are very common here. The type of wood used is unique. After the earthquake, the restoration team spent a considerable amount of time in preparing the same type of wood used during the ancient times.

Attractions in Patan

1. Krishna Mandir

This is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. This is one of the most important structures of the square. ThisShikhara type temple has stone carvings and beam pillars. The carvings explain the scenes of Hindu epic, Mahabharata. The second floor carvings explain the epic, Ramayana. This 17th century temple has 21 gold pinnacles. The first floor holds the main temple of Lord Krishna, Lord Rukmani and Lord Radha. The second floor holds temples of Lord Shiva and Lord Lokeshwor.


2. Golden Temple

This is a magnificent piece of work. This temple is one of the oldest and richest structure and was built in 12th century. This temple is famous for its golden structures and décor works. This temple is dedicated to Buddhism.


3. Bhimsen Temple

This 17th century temple has three interconnected windows. This temple’s main deity is one of the Pandava brothers, Bhimsen of Mahabharata. This temple portrait Bhimsen as Newar Bhim, the God of trade and business. Tourists cannot access this temple.


4. Vishwanath Temple

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This 17th century temple is the Khajuraho of Nepal. The temple is filled with erotic carvings. The main deity of this temple is a stone lingam, a form of Lord Shiva. The main incredible element of this temple is the twin stone elephants at the entrance of the temple. You can also find other sculptures inside the temple.


5. Taleju Bhawani Temple

This temple of 17th century is a five-floor temple with triple roof. This temple was said to be destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in the same century. It is also believed that Pradhanas built this temple, way before the time of settlement of Mallas.


6. Courtyards

The place has three main courtyards. The first is the Keshav Narayan Chowk, which gets its name from the temple of the same name inside it. The MulChowk is the central one and it is the largest of all. You can find numerous temples in this chowk like Vidhya temple, Taleju temple and others. The southernmost courtyard is SundariChok, which has numerous stone sculptures of Hindu Gods. This place holds the Patan Museum inside it.

 

7. Chyasin Dewal

This is another Vishnu temple inside the square. This temple of 17th century is one of the best examples of stone temple architecture. This temple holds many stone sculptures and a wonderful statue of Lord Krishna. The second floor of the temple has beautiful balconies.


8. Taleju Bell

This bell tower is located very closer to Chyasin Dewal. This this a large stone bell hung between two stone pillars. This was the alarm bell, which was rung when invaders were approaching or any emergency information should be announced to the city inmates.


9. Bhandarkhal Pond

This pond lies next to Sundari Chowk of the palace. This pond was once the main water supply for Patan. Today, it is fully restored and has stairs leading to the water in the pool.


10. Patan Museum

This museum is located inside the courtyard of the palace. This museum holds many religious structures, statues of bronze and other artifacts. This is considered as one of the best museums of Asia. This museum holds collections, which are thousands of years old.

The three main courtyards in the palace are Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Besides these courtyards, the complex boasts impressive temples, religious shrines, and historical places, all noted for their exquisite carvings and beautiful display of ancient Newari architecture.

  

11. Keshav Narayan Chowk  

Keshav Narayan Chowk is, inside the Patan Museum, to the north of the Mul Chowk. Keshav Narayan Temple is located at the center of this chowk and gave the chowk its name.

  

12. Mul chowk

Mul Chowk is the central courtyard. It is the most famous and largest courtyard among the three main chowks. Vidya Temple is located at its center and Taleju temples stand around the courtyard. The doorway to the Shrine of Taleju, on the southern side of the courtyard, is confined by the statues of the river goddesses Ganga, on a tortoise, and Jamuna, on a carved makura (mythical crocodile).


13. Sundari Chowk

Sundari Chowk is to the south of the Mul Chowk. It is designed with sunken tank known as Tusha Hiti. Smaller than the Mul Chowk, it is now open to the public. The entrance of the chowk is guarded by the stone statues of Hanuman, Ganesh and Nara Singha, man-lion form of Vishnu.

Boudhanath Stupa

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Located about 11 km from the centre and north-eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, Boudhanath, is one of the most imposing landmarks in Kathmandu. The Buddhist stupa of Boudha Stupa dominates the skyline; it is one of the largest unique structure's stupas in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 gompas (Tibetan convent) around Boudha. As of 1979, Boudha Stupa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with Swayambhu, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area. The 36-meter-high stupa of Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in South Asia. With countless monasteries surrounding it, Boudhanath is the centre of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Built in the shape of a mandala designed to replicate the Gyangtse of Tibet, the stupa was renovated by Licchhavi rulers in the 8th century. The location of the stupa is interesting as it once lay on the ancient trade route to Tibet and it was here that Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for centuries. On each side are a pair of the all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha symbolizing awareness. The canopy has 13 stages. 

According to legend, the king constructed the stupa as an act of penance after unwittingly killing his father. The first stupa was wrecked by Mughal invaders in the 14th century, so the current stupa is a more recent construction. Boudha is a very engrossing and spiritual area where devotees walk more than three times a day enchanting holy mantra ‘ Om Mani Padme Hum ’. During the full moon day, monks are indulged in prayers, singing songs and number of Buddhists comes over the place for visiting. The five most promising elements representing Buddha (earth, air, water, fire and space) are comprised in the Stupas architecture. The highly symbolic construction serves in essence as a three-dimensional reminder of the Buddha’s path towards enlightenment. The plinth represents earth, the kumbha (dome) is water, the harmika (square tower) is fire, the spire is air and the umbrella at the top is the void or ether beyond space. The 13 levels of the spire represent the stages that a human being must pass through to achieve nirvana. Around the base of the stupa are 108 small images of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha (108 is an auspicious number in Tibetan culture) and a ring of prayer wheels, set in groups of four or five into 147 niches. It is believed that thousands of Buddhas incarnated as Lamas in Boudha stupa and the rays of Bodhisattva entered stupa in the form of song from heaven and was heard in the sky. Due to this reason, Boudha is viewed with great reverence as are Sange, Thange, Duibe, Chorten etc. The main entrance to this holy place is in the north side of the upper platform. Surroundings of Boudha Stupa are streets and narrow alleys where the walls are painted with Buddha images, scripts with vibrant lines.

Thamel

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Thamel is a commercial neighbourhood located in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It has been the centre of the tourism industry in Kathmandu for over four decades, starting from the hippie days when many artists came to Nepal and spent weeks in Thamel. It is the hottest-spot for tourism inside the Kathmandu valley. A buzzing, visitor-friendly area, Thamel is the city’s main nightlife zone. Bars blast out live music by cover bands, and lively eateries serve Nepalese and international dishes. Designed in 1920, the stately Garden of Dreams is dotted with pavilions, fountains, and urns. There are many restaurants and cafes, live music and other attractions frequented by both tourists and locals on Fridays and Saturdays. The place is known by its narrow alleys crowded with various shops and vendors. Commonly sold goods include food, fresh vegetables & fruits, pastries, trekking gear, walking gear, music, DVDs, handicrafts, souvenirs, woollen items and clothes. Travel agencies, small grocery stores, budget hotels, restaurants, pubs and clubs also line the streets. Cars, cycle rickshaws, two-wheelers and taxis ply these narrow streets alongside hundreds of pedestrians. Recently many roads in Thamel have been declared vehicle free zones to avoid crowd and traffic havoc. There are many restaurants in Thamel that serve traditional and continental cuisine, although prices are significantly higher than in non-tourist areas. Thamel also acts as the pre-base camp for mountaineers. It boasts a wide range of mountaineering gear shops, foreign money exchange booths, mobile phone shops, along with the numerous travel agents and guest houses. Thamel probably is the best place to enjoy nightlife when you are in Kathmandu. Thamel is home to a wide range of the Nepalese population, and serves both entertainment and employment purposes for the locals around the area.

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Nagarkot

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Nagarkot is a village on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley just under 30 Km from Kathmandu, 14 Km from Bhaktapur. It famously offers stunning Himalayan views and some nice shorter treks. One can get to Nagarkot from Kathmandu by road in less than 2 hours, depending on traffic. It is possible to see Mount Everest from here and sunrise and sunset watching is most popular. At certain times of the year the view will be better than others. Its population is just under 4,000 and there are plenty of hotels, some luxury, and small guest houses. 

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Manakamana Temple

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Location

The Manakamana Temple situated in the Gorkha district of Nepal is the sacred place of the Hindu Goddess Bhagwati, an incarnation of Parvati. The name Manakamana originates from two words, “mana” meaning heart and “kamana” meaning wish. Venerated since the 17th century, it is believed that Goddess Manakamana grants the wishes of all those who make the pilgrimage to her shrine to worship her. The Manakamana temple lies 12 km south of the town Gorkha.The temple is located on a distinguished ridge 1,302 metres (4,272 ft) above sea level and overlooks the river valleys of Trisuli in the south and Marsyangdi in the west. The Manaslu- Himachali and Annapurna ranges can be viewed to the north of the temple. The temple is approximately a 140 kilometres (87 mi) from Kathmandu and can also be reached via bus east from Pokhara in around three to four hours.

Mythical foundation

The legend of Manakamana Goddess 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 in Goddess incarnation, and Lakhan Thapa in the form of a lion. Upon mentioning the revelation to his queen, a mysterious death befell the king. As per the custom of that time, the queen committed Sati (ritual immolation) 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 Hindu 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 must be a descendant of Lakhan Thapa.

How to reach Manakamana Temple

Bus takes three to four hours from Kathmandu or Pokhara. Generally micro buses and mini buses run to Kurintar. One can take bus in transit from east/west (Janakpur, Kakadbhitta, Biratnagar, Nepalgunj) to Kathmandu or Kathmandu to east/west. 

In earlier times, the only way to reach the Manakamana temple was by a long strenuous trek for about three hours. Now, there is a facility of a cable car from kurintar, just 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of Mugling to Manakamana. The cable car rides over the distance of 2.8 kilometres (1.7 mi) in 10 minutes more or less.[citation needed] The cable car usually operates during the daytime from 9 am to 5 pm and stops during lunch break from noon to half past one.His Royal Highness Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev inaugurated Manakamana cable car on November 24, 1998. The cable car system was imported from Austria and guarantees a hundred percent safety. It has features such as automatically operated generators in case of power failure and hydraulic emergency drive. The employees working at the cable car service are qualified and well trained for emergencies. The bottom station of the cable car is placed at Kurintar (258 metres (846 ft)) and the top station is at Mankamana (1,302 metres (4,272 ft)). With 31 passenger cars and 3 cargo cars, the cable car can handle up to 600 persons per hour. The number of passengers per carrier is 6.

Temple architecture

The Manakamana temple is set in a square and looks across a massive sacred magnolia tree.The temple is four storied with tiered pagoda style roofs and lies on a square pedestal. In 1996, brass plates were installed on the roof.The entrance to the temple is in the south-west direction and is marked by one stone, which is the sacrificial pillar.

Manakamana Darshan

Darshan comes from the Sanskrit word meaning sight. The pilgrimage to Manakamana is made by a great many people every year. This religious expedition to see the Goddess Bhagwati at Manakamana is hence referred to as Manakamana Darshan. According to Hindu mythology the universe is said to consist of five cosmic elements- earth, fire, water, air and ether. Devi is worshiped with the same elements, and in Nepal there is a tradition to offer cloth (bastra) to god and goddess. Especially red is considered as saubhagya (long life in Nepal) so Devi is offered almost everything in Red color.  The pooja thali should contain at least the following in a puja basket along with pancha patro,


1. Abir (kumkum) for saubhagyaManakamana Cable Car Entrance

2. Kesar represents earth

3. Flower and Leaves 

4. Dhup for Scent (Fragnace)

5. Diyo for light

6. Cloth (Bastra or Dress) and mirror

7. Fruit and Foods for Prasad (Coconut and sweet deserts)

8. Bell for sound

9. Betel nut and janai

10. Little amount of rice (anna, grain)

  

The priest takes the pooja material when devotee reaches near the Devi statue and he offers their pooja samagri to goddess and returns the same after offering her. People do Sankalpa (vow) and Bhakal (resolution) in the temple. The priest asks the devotees if they have any vow or resolution for which they are in the temple to offer. If they have any, the priest offers the pooja materials to Goddess in the name of Sankalpa and Bhakal of the devotee. People make resolution at the temple and when their wish is fulfilled they go to see the goodness Burga Bhavani, Manakamana Mata, again to offer their gratitude.

Sacrifice

There is a tradition of sacrificing animals at the temple. Some pilgrims sacrifice goats or pigeons in a pavilion behind the temple.[4] However, recently the District Livestock Service Office, Gorkha has banned the sacrifice of birds such as pigeons, roosters, and ducks to name a few. Senior livestock service officer Chhetra Bahadur K.C. said poultry sacrifice would not be permitted until further notice. Manakamana darshan is most popular during Dashain (Sept –Oct) and Nag Panchami (July –August) during which time devotees stand for as long as five to ten hours to pray to Goddess Bhagwati.