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Bungmati & Khokhana Village

Bungmati and Khokhana SightseeingBecause it is not easily reached by road or by air, not many people choose to visit Bungamati in Nepal. However, that does not mean that it is not worth visiting.

Quite on the contrary: Bungamati’s lack of easy access to the rest of Nepal has spared it from a lot of the development and cultural degradation that has occurred in some larger cities. The village is only about 10 kilometers south from downtown Kathmandu so it is not far away at all! There are suspicions that Bungamati existed as early as the 7th century under the name ‘Bugayumi’. However, its official founding date falls somewhere in the 16th century.

What makes Bungamati special is the fact that it is a traditional Newari village – a place where not much has changed over the last couple of centuries. As you walk the streets, you will find hundreds of masterful wood carvers and sculptors offering you excellently hand-crafted items at bargain prices. Most of them work from home and they may even offer you other articles for sale on the side. Generally speaking, the Newars who live here live rural lives, following in the steps of their fathers and forefathers which lived long before them. The Bungamati Newari enjoy an incredibly rich culture which extends over the fields of language, writing, art, architecture and even trans-Himalayan commerce. The people who live here have been practicing their skill or trade, which has been passed down for generations, for most of their lives and they always greet you with a smile.

The women are also productive, utilizing their spare time to engage in weaving, knitting and hand-sewing. However, the village is probably best known for it’s wood carvers whose expertise in their field really stands out.

You will probably find that apart from the people, culture and craft, the only other attractions in Bungamati are the Karya Binayak Temple and the Rato Machhendranath Temple. The Rato Machhendranath Temple is dedicated to the local deity Rato Macchendranath (also known as Bunga-dya) and it is believed that he spends six months a year in this temple guarding the valley.

The view from Karya Binayak, which is dedicated to a natural stone known as Ganesh, is absolutely brilliant and definitely worthwhile. You can reach Bungamati by bus, bicycle or by trekking and you can be sure that visiting this small village will be an experience on its own.

Places of Interest:
Rato Machhendranath Temple :

Bungamati is the birthplace of Rato Machhendranath, regarded as the patron of the valley, and the large shikhara - style temple in the centre of the village square is his home for six months of the year. He spends the rest of his time in Patan. The process of moving him around Patan and backwards and forwards to Bungamati is central to one of the most important annual festivals in the valley.
The ckowk around the temple is one of the most beautiful in the valley - here one can see the heart of a functioning Newari town. There are many chortens and a huge prayer wheel, clearly pointing to the syncretic nature of the Newari religion.

Karya Binayak Temple :
Between Bungamati and Khokana the Karya Binayak Temple is dedicated to Ganesh. The temple is not particularly interesting and Ganesh is simply represented by a natural stone but the view is spectacular. From this point, surrounded by trees, you can look over the Bungamati valley to the foothills, or back to Bungamati, tumbling down the opposite hill.

Khokana:
Khokana in Nepal is situated just north of Bungamati. It is a tiny Newari village with a reputation for two things – mustard oil and the local temple. The Newari who live here eek out a simple living off the land. Much of their daily activities take place outside of their dwellings and they really do seem to embrace nature.

Thus, as you make your way down the main street of the village, you will see woman sitting outside spinning, men crushing seeds, and other daily activities. The village is famous for its unusual mustard oil harvesting process in which a heavy wooden beam is used to crush the mustard seeds in order to extract the oil. This oil can be eaten if desired but it can also be used for therapeutic massage. Even if you are not a fan of the mustard plant, you simply have to enjoy the local mustard oil in whatever way appeals to you the most.

In the center of town you will find that the main street is particularly wide – especially for a village of such diminutive size. The street was widened significantly during the rebuilding process after an earthquake shook the village in 1934. You will also find that no matter where you go in this tiny village, a large three-storied temple will catch your eye. This massive building certainly dominates the ‘skyline’ of the village and can be seen from virtually anywhere in the area.

The temple is dedicated to the local mother goddess, Shikali Mai, and it is regularly used by the local people. A similar temple to the northeast of the village is mainly only used during times of epidemic. Clearly, Kokhana does have something to offer – even if it will only keep you busy for a few hours. So make an effort to stop here during your travels and enrich your stay in Nepal.
How this trip makes a difference!
Creative Hands Every booking you make creates a donation. Ghale Treks is a proud supporter of Creative Hands a social welfare organization. We send part of your service charge to Creative Hands who support worthy causes in poorer communities. Your money will go to education, disabled or physically challenged people, street children, victims, and those living in rural and remote areas of Nepal. Read more about the great work that Creative Hands do and where your donation goes here: http://www.creativehands.org.np

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