You don’t have to be in Switzerland to ride cable cars. The cable car in Nepal takes you up on a spiritual adventure to the abode of Manakamana, the wish-fulfilling goddess. Even if you have no wishes to make (assuming that you have got it all or you not a believer), this place offers a unique look into Nepali people’s faith in the Goddess Manakamana. The Manakamana temple overlooks terraced fields, and the Trishuli and Marsyangdi river valleys. The hilltop (1302m) also offers a vantage point for taking in the breathing view of the Manashlu-Himanchuli and Annapurna massifs to the north.
Venerated since the 17th century and commanding royal patronage, Manakamana is located south of the Gorkha historic town of Gorkha and 6 km north of Mugling. In the past, millions of pilgrims used to do the long arduous trek up to the hilltop. Many still do.
From the cable car station in Cheres, you ge to Manakamana in 10 minutes flat or less. The ride over the distance of 2.8 kilometers. With 31 passengers and 3 cargo-cars, each with a seating capacity of 6, the system has the overall capacity of handling 600 persons per hour. The adventure is in getting your wishes fulfilled.
The legend of Manakamana Goddess goes back to the time of the Gorkha king Ram shah (1614-1636 AD). His queen, the story goes, possessed divine powers known only to her devotee and religious preceptor, Lakhan Thapa. On one occasion, the king chanced upon the revelation of his queen as goddess and Lakhan as a lion. But as soon as he told the Queen what he saw, death took him. When the Queen approached the funeral pyre to commit sati as was the custom back then, she consoled the lamenting Lakhan by saying that she would reappear soon near his home.
Six months later, a certain farmer ploughing a field hit a stone, cleaved it and saw blood and milk flow forth. When the news got around to Lakhan, he knew that his wish had come true. The flow ceased when Lakhan worshipped the stone using his tantric knowledge. When the then ruling king of Gorkha learnt of the incident, he donated land and a grant to perpetuate the worship of Manakamana. This deed was invested with a Lal Mohar, and the present Thapa-Mangar pujari is the 17th generation descendant of Lakhan Thapa.
The shrine of Manakamana has been renovated many times over the centuries. The present four-story temple on a square pedestal has pagoda –style roofs, and the entrance is marked by one stone which is the sacrificial pillar. The Thapa-Mangar priest performs rituals behind closed doors by offering egg, orange, rice, vermillion and strips of cloth to the Goddess, only after the pujari is done with his puja, that the public’s turn comes
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