Places of Pilgrimage in Nepal
Places of Pilgrimage in Nepal
Hindus and Buddhists all over the world including from neighboring India come to pay homage at Nepal’s many places of pilgrimage. Besides the famous shrine of Pashupati and historic sites as Lumbini and Janakpur, a number of other popular pilgrim destinations resides in different parts of the country. While some are beautiful and intricately designed temples built by anonymous artisans of bygone days, other places are known for their fairs and festivals or are holy bathing spots revered by generations of worshipers. There are different Places of Pilgrimage in Nepal that easily fascinates the religious tourist along with nature lovers and adventure seekers.
In the upper part of Dolakha township lies the temple of Bhimeshwar, popularly known as Dolakha Bhimsen. The people of Dolakha regard Bhimeshwar as their supreme Lord. The roofless temple houses a Shiva Linga, underneath which is a holy pond. Fairs at this temple on such occasions as Bala Chaturdashi, Ram Navami, Chaitra-Astami and Bhima Ekadashi. During the Dashain festival, goats are sacrificed here.
Approximately 200 meters from the Bhimeshwar temple is temple of Tripurasundari where devotees assemble during the festivals of Chaitrastami and Dashain. Only the priest of this temple is allowed a glimpse of the image enshrined within.
Devghat is a popular pilgrimage spot lying at the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and Trisuli rivers. It lies just north of the jungle safari destination of Royal Chitwan National Park. During the Makar Sankranti festival in January, Hindu devotees gather here to take holy dips in the river. There are a number of sacred and historical sites around Devghat which provide interesting side trips: the Triveni temple and Balmiki Ashram where the great sage Balmiki had his retreat, the Someswar Kalika temple and fort, Pandavanagar where the protagonists of the Mahabharat once lived and the Kabilaspur fort built by the old kings of Palpa.
Kamala Maisthan is one of the most important religious spots of Sindhuli district and lies at the confluence of the Kamala and Gwang streams. Lying at an altitude of 610 meters above sea level, it is eleven kilometers from Sindhulimadi and jeep connects to Janakpur. On the first day of the Nepalese month of Magh (January-February), a grand fair is held at Kamala Maisthan. Thousands of pilgrims come to sacrifice goats and pigeons, after which they sing song and dance throughout the night.
Some twenty kilometers north-east of Janakpur lies Dhanusha. As the legend runs, the Great Shiva Dhanu (the Great Bow of Lord Shiva) which was broken in pieces by Rama, the hero of the Ramayana epic, fell on this spot; the name Dhanusha is derived from the Great Dhanu or Bow. Every Sunday of the month of Magh, devotees take a dip in the holy waters and worship at this place. During the Ram Navami and Bibaha Panchami festivals, fairs are held at Dhanusha.
The historic of Jaleshwar Mahadev lies in the city of Jaleswar, the headquaters of Janakpur zone. Jaleswar Mahadev is one of Nepal’s prominent places of pilgrimage and is popular in the Hindu epic, Padma Purana. According to legend, a hermit named Jagadish arrived in the lonesome forest of Jaleshwar and had a dream in which he was directed to conduct excavations at the spot. In accordance with the dream, he began digging and soon found an image of Jaleshwar Mahadev. He then built a temple with some gold which he brought from a place called Sunukhadagarh.
Just in front of Jaleshwar Mahadev temple there are two sacred ponds, called Barunsar and Kshiresar. During the Ram Navami and Bivaha Panchami festivals, thousands of pilgrims assemble at these ponds.
One of Nepal’s most famous places of pilgrimage is the holy lake of Gosainkunda, at an altitude of 4,380 meters above sea level. Surrounded by higher terrain towards the east and north, this kunda or lake is both grand and picturesque. On the east and west of the kunda there are nine other lakes including Saraswatikunda. Bhairavkunda, Sooryakunda and Ganeshkunda. Every year, during Janai Poornima in August, thousands of Hindu pilgrims and devotees trek to this spot to take holy baths and participate in the fair.
The famous temple of Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang and is lying on a high mountainside. During the festival of Janai Poornima, Hindu devotees gather at this spot to pay homage to Lord Muktinath. Dharmashala and Maharani Pouwa (resting places for pilgrims) provide lodging for visitors and travelers. About one hundred meters to the south of the temple of different gods and goddesses are enshrined. On the grounds of the temple are three holes from which flames shoot forth continually. Since ancient times, these divine flames of Jwala have been worshipped as Jwaladevi (the goddess of flame).
In the western part of the district of Pyuthan (Rapti Zone) lies Swargadwari, a place of Hindu pilgrimage. Swargadwari lies almost 26 kilometers south of Khalanga Bazar, the district headquarters of Pyuthan. According to legend, the holy place derives its name from a spot where ancient sages used to do penance. In particular, an old hermit named Padma Giri attained great enlightenment through continuous penance and did many charitable things for the local people. It was this Swargadwari sage who built a holy pond there and started the system of Akhanda Hom (Eternal Fire) in it.
When the great sage eventually passed away, he was buried at this same spot; marble slabs were then placed over this holy burial ground and a temple was built. A herd of several hundred cows now belongs to the temple trust; the trust is also responsible for managing the pilgrims’ accommodations and food. On the peak of Swargadwari there is a picturesque cave where the great sage used to meditate. Every year fairs are held at this site during the festivals of Baisakh Poornima and Kartik Poomima, when pilgrims from different parts of Nepal and India come to pay homage.
In the district of Rolpa in Rapti Zone, some seventy kilometers north of Libang, the district headquarters, lies the Parbat Dhuri (meaning mountain top), 3,494 meters above sea level. On the Parbat Dhuri are the three temples of Baju, Varah and Kaile Varah. As the popular story goes, long ago two Magar youths named Karmapal and Dharmapal used to go hunting together. One night they both had dreams in which the gods Baju and Varah told Karmapal and Dharmapal, ‘Shoot your arrows in the direction that the rains, the winds and the clouds move.’ When they did so, big snakes were killed and the Jhyrabi River changed its direction from east to west. After this Baju, Varah and the daughter of the Satsalle god were able to live there peacefully.
Baju and Varah are revered as the guardian deities of the Magar in Rolpa. Every year during Jestha Poomima and Janai Poomima, three-day fairs are held at these shrines and sheep and goats are sacrificed.
Mai Pokhari, llam
Some thirteen kilometers north of llam Bazaar lies the pond of Mai Pokhari, a place of pilgrimage lies at an altitude of 2,438 meters. The circumference of the pond is more than one kilometer. Altogether there are nine ponds in the area, some of which are large enough for boats. Others have layers of moss so thick that one can walk out them. Every year during Harisyani Ekadasi a one-night fair is held at this spot; no animals are sacrificed. The area is also a picnic spot with a temple and a hermit’s cottage. Local people claim that Mai Pokhari is gradually moving and changing its location. From llam bazaar it takes four hours to reach Mai pokhari by jeep. On the way are the villages of Chure Ghanti, Bakhaute, Dharapani and Jasbire Bahanjyang, which offer commanding views of the snowy peaks to the north.
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Text : Nepal : A World of Its Own,HMG,Nepal,1997
Photo Credit : https://goo.gl/jxVgNQ