Alarm at Quarter to Four in the Morning (3 : 45 a.m.)
The word “alarm” is actually related to a sudden fear, whether it be a feeling or device. What was the fear that the alarm at quarter to four related to? Sleeplessness?Maybe. Loss of sweet dreams? Probably. Coming out of the warm bed? Most certainly!
Anyways, the alarm could not wake me up. I slumped into a sleep again. Mamu and baini had to make me wake up at quarter past four.
Within the next fifteen minutes, I was ready for the tour. Mamu gave us tea and biscuits. It is said, “Don’t worship gods and goddesses after you’ve eaten.” It is also said, “If the god within you is weak and unhappy, the god outside cannot help you.”
The biscuits got into the stomach easily but the warm tea killed the taste buds on the tip of my tongue. Before the tea could be finished, Mamu’s phone rang. The reserved vehicle had arrived. The four of us rushed down and reached the means of transportation in no time.
I don’t know what I should call the vehicle. It was larger than a micro-bus but smaller than a mini-bus. Maybe it should be called mini-micro or micro-mini? I don’t know. The seats were much more comfortable than that of either mini- or micro-bus. After all, it was registered for tourists (green number plate). We had become tourists today. Nineteen of us from Pragati Tole, Dhumbarahi went on this religious tour.
Hustle-Bustle at Chabahil
It’s Dashain time. Of course, Kathmandu Valley is going to be empty! Chabahil is one of the busiest chowks (squares) but I had not expected a jam at 5 : 00 in the morning. Not today.
I have been through traffic jam at this before during my exams and it was because of the Melamchi Project. This time, the scenario was different. Hundreds of vehicles were placed obliquely on both sides of the road, affecting the smooth movement. These vehicles were moving to different places out of the valley. It took about fifteen minutes to come out of that traffic jam.
People People Everywhere!
From Chabahil to Jadibuti, we saw people on the roadside waiting for vehicles. These were the people leaving Kathmandu Valley for Dashain. They were going back to their homes from this city of opportunities (opportunists’ city?).
The migration of people from villages to cities is a global trend. Dashain is the most important festival in Nepal and people wish to celebrate it with their families. This inspires millions of people who come to Kathmandu for jobs and education go back to their homes.
The biggest crowds were at Chabahil, Tinkune, Koteshwor and Jadibuti. People at Chabahil, Tinkune and Koteshwor might go both east and west. Those at Jadibuti though, were definitely going east some via the Araniko-BP-Mahendra Highway and some via Araniko Highway.
Some of the sights I saw are really depressing. The first among them is the condition of roads. The Chabahil-Gaushala section of the Ring Road of Kathmandu is one the dustiest roads of the entire valley in recent times. Similarly, between Dhulikhel and Panchkhal, Kavre, the road has deteriorated. Reason? Landslide, which does not look natural in most places. There are signs that those weak hills have been scraped by dozers. We’re destroying natural state of mountains without considering the future consequences. How stupid can we be?
The sight of people leaving Kathmandu during Dashain was also sad. It shows how centralized development in Nepal has been, how opportunities are low in other parts of the country and how Kathmandu itself runs. Now that millions of people have left the city, the city life will cease, basic necessities will be difficult to find, the number of public vehicles will decrease, and so on.
When you visit a temple in Nepal, you expect to see a grand temple in Pagoda style. Unfortunately, one of our destinations, the temple of Palanchok Bhagawati does not have roof these days. The same feeling I had while visiting Manakamana two months ago, resurfaced. The reconstruction is slow. To whom and why are we showing our misery? Can’t we reconstruct our heritage’s ourselves? Businessmen around these temples make thousands of rupees daily, donation is collected independently (didn’t see this at Palanchok), development budget worth millions of dollars is frozen every year. And still we say, we are poor. We’re not poor, our mentality is!
The fourth thing I must mention is the attitude of people. I find it strange that they speak a blatant lie and say, “How can I like in front of the Goddess?” This was the attitude of people who jumped the queue to get to the front. How can people lie so easily. Don’t they have a shred of guilt? Don’t they feel ashamed with themselves? What are they teaching their kids? They don’t even stop to think even for a second.
Maybe we are so accustomed to such scenes that we don’t look them as problems. But what are we doing and what are we showing to the world? Do we want to show to the world that we are beggars? Don’t we have dignity? Don’t we even have self-respect? If not, why are we leaving everything at the grace of others? Why do we try justifying our wrong and immoral actions?
Time for some Legends of Palanchok Bhagawati
There are two temples at Palanchok. One of the Palanchok Bhagawati which gives the district half of its name–Kavrepalanchok. The other temple is of Kalika. Legends say that they are sisters. Kalika is the eldest sister, Palanchoki, the middle and the youngest is the Chandeshwori at Banepa.
Kalika was extremely fierce. She wanted too much Bhog because of devoured a lot animals and people. To control her appetite, her head was cut and buried on the ground (probably by Palanchoki or enraged people. A headless idol represents this goddess but her temple too is damaged severely.
During Baishakh Poornima, a huge mela occurs at Palanchok and Banepa. Chandeshwori is taken to Palanchok on a palanquin to meet with her sisters.
Another legend says that Palanchok Bhagawati, Naxal Bhagawati and Shobha Bhagawati, the latter two of which are in Kathmandu, are sisters and Palanchoki is the eldest. They are believed to have been carved by the same sculptor.
Somewhere between Palanchok and Dhulikhel
Although the line at Palanchok Bhagawati was long, we worshipped the goddess in less than an hour. After some grocery shopping, we went Nala Bhagawati at Banepa.
The day had become very hot but we lacked water. We saw a tap on the side of the highway between Palanchok and Dhulikhel. A locked tank that tapped the spring and made the water cool was also installed. The water cooled our heated bodies and even quenched hunger to some extent.
At Nala Bhagawati
Although the line at Palanchok Bhagawati was long, we worshipped the goddess in less than an hour. After some grocery shopping, we went Nala Bhagawati. This temple was grander, four-storied and looked unaffected by the earthquake. A pleasant sight.
The foundations of Nala Bhagawati was made in the year 1677 Bikram Sambat (B.S.) by the king of Bhaktapur Jagajyoti Malla. Twenty years hence, the first storey was made by Jagat Prakash Malla. The second storey was made in 1699 and the third in 1703. The fourth storey and the golden pinnacle were made by Devanand, a rich man of the Nala area and his sons. The idol of the Goddess is golden and has eighteen hands.
This was unexpected. Sanga is the border between Bhaktapur and Kavre districts or in other words Kathmandu Valley and Kavre district. It is a Bhanjyang (saddle) to the east of Kathmandu Valley. Here, on a hillock stands the tallest statue (144 ft. tall) of Lord Shiva in Nepal.
The journey back home was pretty smooth except a jam at Jaya Bageshwori. The usual problems of dust, smoke and traffic jams do not seem to end. At around three o’clock, our religious tour came to an end.