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.