The Manakamana Temple is a holy Hindu site in Nepal's Gorkha district. The temple is on top of a hill and looks out over the valley of the Trishuli River and the beautiful Himalayas in the distance. The name of the temple comes from two words: "Mana," which means "heart," and "Kamana," which means "wish." The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Manakamana, who is thought to be an incarnation of the Goddess Bhagwati. So, many people call Manakamana the "Goddess of the Heart's Wishes."
Pilgrims from all over Nepal and nearby countries come to this temple because they are sure that Goddess Manakamana will help them get what they want if they make the trip to ask for her blessings. In the past, the trip meant a hard climb up the hill. But since the Manakamana Cable Car was built, the journey has become easier, bringing in even more tourists and religious people.
The building is very important to history and culture. The story that goes with it is about a queen who was thought to have divine powers but died in a sad way. Later, a farmer is said to have found the spot where the queen was honored as a goddess, which led to the building of the temple.
Today, the Manakamana Temple is not only a place of worship, but also a symbol of Nepal's rich cultural history and spiritual customs.
Table Of Content
- Its significance in Nepalese culture and beliefs.
- Origin: The Legend of the Manakamana Goddess
- Architectural Marvel of Manakamana Temple
- The Cable Car Journey to Manakamana Temple
- Manakamana Cable Car Ticket Price
- The Spiritual Significance of Manakamana Temple
- Stories from Manakamana Temple
- Surrounding Attractions of Manakamana Temple
- Helpful Information for Visitors to Manakamana
- In the end
- Frequently Asked Questions
Its significance in Nepalese culture and beliefs.
Nepalese people have a special place in their hearts for the Manakamana Temple, which is one of the most important holy sites in the country. Here's an in-depth look at what it means in Nepalese society and beliefs:
Symbol of Devotion and trust:
The unshakable trust in Goddess Manakamana, who is often called the "Goddess of the Heart's Wishes," strikes a chord with many Nepalese. Every year, thousands of people go on a journey to the temple, hoping that the Goddess will help them get what they really want. Their commitment shows how deeply spiritual people in the country believe in God.
The Manakamana Temple is a cultural hub where many different events, ceremonies, and customs are held. During Hindu holidays like Dashain, when a lot of people come to pay their thanks and ask for benefits, the temple is especially busy.
According to a legend, the temple is connected to the ruling family of the Gorkha Kingdom. People think that the Queen of Gorkha was reborn as the Goddess Manakamana because she had divine powers. This weaving together of history and mythology makes Nepal's culture richer and makes the temple a link between the country's past and present.
The temple helps bring people together and keep them together. People from different castes, ethnic groups, or areas come together because they share a religion. This shows how diverse Nepal is as a whole. The temple is a binding force that brings people from different parts of society together.
Keeping traditions alive:
Rituals like bringing animals to be sacrificed have been done for generations, though they aren't done as often as they used to be because of worries about animal rights. Not only are these routines religious practices, but they also help keep old traditions alive and pass them on to new generations.
Integration with Nature:
The position of the temple, high in the hills with views of green valleys and the Himalayas in the distance, shows how nature and faith fit together in Nepalese culture. Nature is not just a background; it is an important part of a spiritual experience.
Importance to the economy:
Since the Manakamana Cable Car opened, there has been a rise in tourists from both inside and outside of Hawaii. Local businesses have grown because of this, and many people now offer services like lodging, food, and trips.
Manakamana Temple is not just a building or a place of worship. It is a live representation of Nepal's culture, spirituality, and history. The temple's importance goes beyond religion; it shows how this Himalayan country's social and cultural life works.
Origin: The Legend of the Manakamana Goddess
The origins of Manakamana Temple are deeply embedded in Nepalese folklore and legends. The most widely accepted tale traces back to the reign of the Gorkha King Ram Shah during the 17th century.
According to the legend, Queen Lakshmi Devi, the wife of King Ram Shah, possessed divine powers, which she kept hidden from the king. However, the king came to know of his wife's secret when he overheard her conversing with her devotee, Sabai Thakur. Sabai Thakur was distraught as he had lost his belongings in the river, and Queen Lakshmi Devi revealed her divine form to retrieve them.
After King Ram Shah came to know of this divine incident, he vanished under mysterious circumstances, leading to the Queen's tragic demise. Following this, the queen was believed to reappear in the form of a deity near the top of the hill where the temple now stands. Recognizing the sanctity of the location and the divine presence of the queen reincarnated as a goddess, the local people erected a temple in her honor. The name "Manakamana" was thus coined, symbolizing the goddess who fulfills the wishes of the heart.
Chronological Development: Evolution of the Temple
1. Initial Construction (17th century): After the divine appearance of the goddess near the hilltop, the initial shrine was established. This small structure primarily consisted of a sanctum where the deity resided.
2. Expansion and Renovation (18th – 19th century): Over the years, as the fame of the temple spread and devotees increased, the temple underwent expansion. Additional structures and courtyards were added, making it more accommodating for pilgrims.
3. Early 20th Century: By this time, the Manakamana Temple had solidified its position as one of the premier pilgrimage sites in Nepal. More infrastructural developments like pathways, resting spots, and basic amenities were established.
4. Introduction of the Cable Car (1990s): In 1998, the Manakamana Cable Car was introduced, linking Kurintar to Manakamana. This drastically reduced the strenuous trek up the hill, transforming the pilgrimage experience. The accessibility resulted in a significant boost in the number of visitors, both devotees and tourists.
5. Recent Developments (21st century): Modern amenities, preservation efforts, and renovation after wear and tear have kept the temple in good condition. Efforts to blend tradition with modernity have been at the forefront, ensuring the temple retains its historical essence while catering to the needs of contemporary visitors.
The evolution of Manakamana Temple, from its mystical origins to its current revered status, showcases the dynamic interplay of faith, culture, and history. Today, it stands as a testament to Nepal's rich spiritual heritage and the undying devotion of its people.
Architectural Marvel of Manakamana Temple
Manakamana Temple epitomizes the essence of traditional Nepalese architecture. Here are the distinctive features that make the temple a masterpiece:
Tiered Pagoda Style: Like many temples in Nepal, Manakamana follows a tiered pagoda structure. This is characterized by multi-layered roofs that decrease in size as they ascend, symbolizing a stairway to the heavens.
Wooden Carvings: A hallmark of Nepalese temples, intricate wooden carvings adorn the struts, doors, and windows. These carvings often depict deities, mythical creatures, and tales from Hindu epics.
Stone and Wood Combination: The temple showcases a harmonious blend of stone and wood, representing strength and artistry, respectively.
Golden Vajra: The 'Vajra' or thunderbolt, usually found atop the main entrance, is a symbol of indestructible power and firmness in Nepalese culture.
Design and Layout: Exploring the Temple's Intricacies
Main Sanctum: At the heart of the temple lies the main sanctum, housing the revered deity of Goddess Manakamana. This area pulsates with spiritual energy and is where most rituals are performed.
Intricate Carvings: The temple is adorned with detailed carvings depicting various divine and natural motifs. These carvings are not merely decorative but often convey deeper symbolic meanings tied to Hindu beliefs.
Temple Premises: Surrounding the main temple are smaller shrines and courtyards dedicated to other deities. The premises are designed for circumambulation, allowing devotees to walk around the temple as a mark of respect and devotion.
Surrounding Structures: Apart from the main temple, there are various smaller shrines, rest areas, and communal spaces where devotees gather, enhancing the communal aspect of the pilgrimage.
Restoration Efforts: Preserving and Renovating the Temple
The Manakamana Temple, like many ancient structures, has undergone wear and tear over the centuries, making restoration efforts crucial to its preservation.
Regular Maintenance: Given the temple's wooden structure, regular checks for termites and rot are essential. Traditional methods, often passed down through generations, are employed to treat and preserve the wood.
Post-Earthquake Restorations: Nepal's devastating earthquake in 2015 damaged many historical sites. Manakamana Temple also needed restoration work after this natural calamity. Local artisans and international experts collaborated to restore the temple to its former glory, ensuring the renovations stayed true to its original design.
Modern Amenities: While preserving the temple's historical essence, some modern amenities have been introduced, like lighting and sanitation facilities, to cater to the contemporary visitor.
Cultural Preservation: Efforts aren't limited to just physical restoration. Traditional artisans are engaged in renovation projects to ensure that the ancient techniques and styles are passed on and preserved for future generations.
Manakamana Temple stands as a brilliant example of Nepal's rich architectural heritage. The meticulous design, coupled with persistent restoration efforts, ensures that this ancient marvel continues to captivate and inspire generations.
The Cable Car Journey to Manakamana Temple
The Manakamana Cable Car, a wonder of modern engineering in Nepal, connects the old spiritual world to the modern world without any problems. This cable car system was built in 1998. It connects the town of Kurintar to the holy mountain of Manakamana. Before, it took several hours to walk there. Now, it only takes 10 minutes by cable car.
Experience An Aerial Adventure
Above the Trishuli River: The journey commences with the cable car gliding effortlessly above the roaring Trishuli River. The sight of the river's turquoise waters winding through the valleys below offers a magnificent and serene start to the trip.
Terraced Fields: As the cable car ascends, passengers are treated to a bird's-eye view of Nepal's picturesque terraced fields. These agricultural steps, carved into the hillside, present a mosaic of green and gold hues, especially during harvest season.
Flora and Fauna: The journey also offers glimpses of Nepal's rich biodiversity. Dense forests, home to various birds and wildlife, flank the cable route, providing a burst of verdant green to the visual spectacle.
Himalayan Panorama: On clear days, passengers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the majestic Himalayan range. The snow-capped peaks stand tall, glistening under the sun, serving as a gentle reminder of the grandeur of nature.
Cultural Vistas: Along the way, one might spot small hamlets, traditional Nepali homes, and villagers going about their daily routines, offering a snapshot of the region's vibrant culture and lifestyle.
Significance: Revolutionizing Pilgrimages and Boosting Tourism
Accessibility for All: Before the cable car's introduction, the journey to Manakamana was challenging, especially for the elderly or those with physical limitations. The cable car has democratized access, ensuring that devotees of all ages and health conditions can seek blessings from the Goddess Manakamana.
Tourism Boost: The ease of the cable car journey coupled with the panoramic views it offers has attracted not only pilgrims but also tourists from around the world. This influx has greatly benefited the local economy, with many finding livelihood opportunities in the tourism sector.
Cultural Exchange: With increased accessibility, Manakamana Temple witnesses a diverse set of visitors, promoting cultural exchange and broadening horizons. The temple has transitioned from being solely a spiritual destination to a place of global convergence.
Economic Impact: The revenue generated from the cable car system has been channeled back into the community. Infrastructure development, preservation efforts for the temple, and local welfare programs have all seen a boost due to this influx.
The Manakamana Cable Car, while serving as a testament to technological advancements, has beautifully intertwined with the spiritual essence of the region. It stands as a symbol of progress that respects tradition, augments cultural experiences, and propels communities into a prosperous future.
Manakamana Cable Car Ticket Price
From 1998 there is a cable car service available for the visitor’s comfort. To visit to the temple, visitors must have to buy a two Cable Car tickets. Here is the cost details:
Nepalese citizen must pay NPR 700 for the two way ride of cable car to reach the temple. For the Indian nationals, it costs INR 550 (NPR 880) for adults and INR 350 (NPR 560) for child, for two way. Chinese and SAARC nationals (Except Indian), it costs $15 for adults and $10 for child. For the other foreigners, it costs $25 for adults and $15 for child. If you want to take goats there, it costs NPR 240 per goat.
Cable Car Operating Time: Everyday 9 am to 12 Noon / 1.30pm to 5 pm, there will be a short lunch break in between 12.00pm to 1.30pm.
At the Manakamana hill top, there is a small market as well. You can buy the signs of the temple, Khukuris, worship ingredients and many more local made products. Visit this holiest shrine to have a glimpse at the highly venerated and worshipped goddess in Nepal.
The Spiritual Significance of Manakamana Temple
Embodiment of Desires: Goddess Manakamana, whose name is derived from two Nepali words - 'Mana', meaning heart, and 'Kamana', meaning wish, is fervently believed to grant the heartfelt wishes of her devotees.
Legacy of Queen Lakshmi Devi: Legend connects the goddess to the Queen of Gorkha, Lakshmi Devi, who was believed to possess divine powers. Her reincarnation as the goddess solidified Manakamana's spiritual significance, creating an eternal bridge between the mortal and divine realms.
Divine Protector: Many also see the goddess as a protector, shielding them from harm and guiding them through life's challenges.
Rituals and Practices
Poojas and Artis: Devotees usually participate in or observe special prayer ceremonies, where priests perform rituals in honor of the goddess. The sounds of bells, chants, and traditional instruments create a spiritually charged atmosphere.
Offerings: Devotees bring offerings as tokens of their devotion. These can include flowers, sweets, fruits, and even animals, though the latter has been limited due to animal rights concerns.
Animal Sacrifices: In earlier times, it was a common practice for devotees to offer animals, especially goats and roosters, as sacrifices. While this has reduced, it still remains a traditional ritual for some.
Lighting Diyas: Oil lamps (diyas) are lit by many devotees, signifying the light of divine blessings in one's life.
Circumambulation: Walking around the temple premises in a clockwise direction is a common practice, symbolizing the act of encompassing the divine within oneself.
Dashain: One of the most significant festivals in Nepal, Dashain sees a surge in pilgrims visiting Manakamana. Special rituals are performed, and the temple is adorned with decorations. It is a time when devotees seek the goddess's blessings for prosperity and well-being.
Panchami: During the Nepalese month of Baisakh (April-May), the Panchami festival is celebrated with enthusiasm. This festival attracts a large number of devotees to the temple.
Local Festivals: Apart from the national festivals, several regional and local festivals specific to the temple's history and the community around it are celebrated. These provide a rich insight into the localized cultural and spiritual practices of the region.
In the heart of Nepal, the Manakamana Temple is more than just stone and wood; it's a spiritual beacon radiating centuries of faith, hope, and devotion. The practices, rituals, and festivals that revolve around it are not mere traditions but are the lifelines of a community and a nation, connecting past legacies with present aspirations.
Stories from Manakamana Temple
The Lost and Found Child: A famous tale narrates the story of a grief-stricken mother who prayed at the temple after her child went missing. After days of relentless praying and keeping faith in the goddess, she found her child playing at the temple premises, unharmed.
Cure from Illness: Several devotees recount tales of being cured from seemingly incurable illnesses after visiting Manakamana. One particularly poignant story speaks of a man bedridden for years, who regained his strength after his family sought the blessings of the goddess.The Unwavering Light: There's a story about a group of pilgrims who were trapped due to a sudden storm while returning from the temple. Guided by a mysterious light source, they found their way out of the tempest, believing it was the goddess herself lighting their path.
Surrounding Attractions of Manakamana Temple
Panoramic Himalayan Views: One of the significant draws of the Manakamana Temple region is the unobstructed view of the Himalayan range. On clear days, visitors can feast their eyes on majestic peaks like Annapurna, Himchuli, Ganesh Himal, and several others.
Verdant Hillsides: The temple is nestled amidst lush green hills, offering tranquil surroundings that refresh the soul. Whether it's the dense forests or the cascading waterfalls nearby, nature's beauty is in full display.
Terraced Fields: Especially during sowing and harvest seasons, the terraced fields are a sight to behold. These agricultural masterpieces, cascading down the hillsides, depict the harmony between man and nature.
The Trishuli River: Flowing gracefully below, the Trishuli River is not just a beautiful sight but also offers adventurous river rafting opportunities for the thrill-seekers.
Nearby Places of Interest
Gorkha Palace: Located not too far from Manakamana, the historical Gorkha Palace is the ancestral home of the Shah kings of Nepal. The palace complex has a few temples and offers panoramic views of the surrounding valleys.
Bandipur: An ancient trading town, Bandipur is known for its preserved cultural environment, stunning architecture, and magnificent views of the Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu, and Langtang ranges.
Devghat: A religious center, Devghat lies at the confluence of the Trishuli and Kaligandaki rivers. It holds immense religious significance and is a popular destination during the Makar Sankranti festival.
Siddha Gufa: The largest cave in Nepal, Siddha Gufa offers an adventure for those interested in spelunking. With stalactites and stalagmites aplenty, the cave is a marvel of natural architecture.
Taudaha Lake: A serene lake believed to be the abode of the serpent king, Karkotaka. It's a popular spot for bird watchers, especially during the migratory season.
While the spiritual allure of Manakamana Temple is undeniable, the surrounding attractions add layers of history, adventure, and natural beauty to the experience. Visitors can immerse themselves not only in the divine blessings of the temple but also in the rich tapestry of culture, nature, and history that the region has to offer.
Helpful Information for Visitors to Manakamana
How to Reach?
Reaching Manakamana Temple from Kathmandu is relatively straightforward. Here's a step-by-step guide:
1. By Road:
Private Car or Taxi:
- You can hire a private car or taxi from Kathmandu to take you directly to Kurintar, which is the starting point for the Manakamana Cable Car. The drive usually takes around 3-4 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
- Once you arrive at Kurintar, you can park your car in the designated parking areas and proceed to the cable car station.
Bus or Microbus:
- Regular tourist and local buses, as well as microbuses, operate from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Chitwan, and other western destinations. You can board one of these and get off at Kurintar.
- The bus park in Kathmandu for buses headed in this direction is typically located at Gongabu Bus Park or Kalanki. It's advisable to confirm departure times and book tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons.
2. By Cable Car:
- Once you arrive at Kurintar by road, the next step is to take the Manakamana Cable Car.
- The cable car operates from early morning to late afternoon. Check the timings and any seasonal variations before planning your trip.
- The journey by cable car from Kurintar to the Manakamana Temple offers breathtaking views of the Trishuli River, terraced fields, and on clear days, glimpses of the Himalayan range.
- The cable car ride lasts about 10-12 minutes.
3. On Foot:
- If you're feeling adventurous, or if you're on a pilgrimage, you can choose to trek to the temple. There are well-marked paths that lead from the base to the temple.
- The trek can take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours, depending on your pace and level of fitness. The path is steep in some places, so make sure you're adequately prepared with good shoes, water, and light snacks.
Best Time to Visit
Weather Considerations: The best time to visit Manakamana Temple for clear views and pleasant weather is during the autumn months (September to November). The skies are typically clear, offering excellent vistas of the Himalayan range.
Festival Timings: If you wish to experience the local festivals, consider visiting during Dashain (September-October) or Panchami (April-May). However, be prepared for larger crowds during these times.
Monsoon Caution: The monsoon season (June to August) brings heavy rains, which might make travel challenging and obscure the views. It's best to check the weather forecast before planning a trip during these months.
Basic Lodges: For those on a budget or looking for a more authentic experience, there are numerous basic lodges in and around the Manakamana area. These might be simple but often offer warm hospitality.
Mid-Range Hotels: There are several mid-range hotels providing amenities like private bathrooms, hot water, and sometimes, Wi-Fi. Some might even offer panoramic views of the surroundings.
Luxury Stays: While luxury accommodations are limited in the immediate vicinity of the temple, nearby towns might offer more upscale resorts or hotels, especially in places like Bandipur or along the Prithvi Highway.
Homestays: Experience local culture and hospitality firsthand by opting for a homestay. It's an excellent opportunity to immerse oneself in Nepalese traditions and cuisine.
Dress Modestly: Respect the local culture and religious sentiments by dressing modestly, especially when visiting the temple. Long pants and covering the shoulders are advisable.
Local Etiquette: Always walk clockwise around temples or religious monuments. Remove shoes before entering religious sites.
Cable Car Timing: The cable car operates from early morning until late afternoon. However, it's best to check the timings beforehand, especially during peak seasons when there might be long queues.
Stay Hydrated and Carry Snacks: Especially if traveling during the warmer months, it's essential to stay hydrated. While there are some eateries near the temple, carrying your snacks is advisable.
Respect Animal Rights: While animal sacrifice is a part of some rituals, it's essential to approach the topic with sensitivity and respect.
Local Guides: If it's your first time, consider hiring a local guide. They can provide insights into the temple's history, local customs, and the best spots for views.
Altitude Consideration: While Manakamana is not extremely high, altitude can affect some visitors. It's good to be aware and take it easy if you feel lightheaded or short of breath.
Visiting Manakamana Temple is a spiritually enriching experience. Being equipped with practical knowledge ensures a smooth and memorable journey, allowing visitors to focus on the beauty, culture, and divinity that the region offers.
In the end
The Manakamana Temple, which sits on top of Nepal's green hills, is not only a sign of the country's religious devotion, but also of its cultural, historical, and artistic grandeur. Its holy walls have heard the whispers of many prayers, stories of miracles, and the steps of visitors from all walks of life for hundreds of years.
It has more than one meaning. The temple is more than just a beautiful piece of architecture with detailed carvings. It is also a live example of Nepal's rich mix of beliefs and customs. The ride on the cable car above the Trishuli River, the sweeping views of the Himalayas, the rhythmic chants, and the enticing smell of incense all come together to make an experience that goes beyond the everyday and touches the holy.
But Manakamana is special for more than just the things you can see and touch. It's the link that can't be seen or touched, the deep sense of being a small part of a huge cosmic play, and the knowledge that faith, hope, and shared memories can last through time and change.
When you read about Manakamana, you go on a trip with words. Still, to really understand what it's all about, you have to walk on its ancient stone paths, feel the mountain breeze, and get lost in the air of devotion. It's a trip that offers not only beautiful scenery but also a chance to think about yourself and get spiritually refreshed.
The temple gives more than just benefits to those who look for them. It is a window into the heart of Nepal and its people, showing how respect, devotion, and unity are important to them. In a world that is always changing, Manakamana is a constant light that reminds us of the eternal connection between humans and the holy.
So, I hope that everyone who reads this will be moved to go on this holy trip, not just as a tourist but as a seeker who is ready to experience Manakamana Temple's deep mix of nature, culture, and spirituality. Your mental and physical journey is waiting for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where is Manakamana Temple located?
Manakamana Temple is located in the Gorkha district of Nepal, approximately 105 kilometers west of Kathmandu.
2. Why is Manakamana Temple so popular?
The temple is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Bhagwati, an incarnation of Parvati. It is believed that the goddess has the power to fulfill wishes, leading to its name 'Manakamana,' which translates to 'heart's desire.'
3. How can one reach Manakamana Temple?
The most popular way to reach the temple is via the Manakamana Cable Car that runs from Kurintar to the temple location. Alternatively, there are trekking and drive routes for the more adventurous.
4. Is there an entry fee to the temple?
While there isn't an entry fee to the temple itself, there is a fee for the cable car ride.
5. What should I wear when visiting the temple?
Visitors are advised to dress modestly, covering shoulders and legs, out of respect for the religious significance of the site.
6. Are there any accommodations near the temple?
Yes, there are a range of accommodations, from basic lodges to mid-range hotels, available in the vicinity of the temple.
7. Can I visit the temple throughout the year?
Yes, the temple is open year-round. However, the best time for clear views and pleasant weather is between September to November.
8. Are there any specific rituals or ceremonies to be aware of?
The temple witnesses animal sacrifices as offerings, particularly during certain festivals. It's important for visitors to approach this aspect of local culture with respect and understanding.
9. How much time should I allocate for a visit?
A visit to the temple, excluding travel time, can take anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on personal interest, rituals, and exploration.
10. Are there any food outlets nearby?
Yes, there are local eateries around the temple where you can sample Nepalese cuisine. However, it's always a good idea to carry water and some snacks.