A Ten Hours Tour to Palanchok, Nala, Sanga and Back

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.

The Rush

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.

Miserable Sights

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!

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The first view of Palanchok Bhagawati

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A close-up of the present condition

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Palanchok Bhagawati before the earthquake (Source: Punya, Wikipedia)

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.

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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.

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Nala Bhagawati

At Sanga

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.

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Kailashnath, Sanga

Back Home

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.

A PM, A President, Janakpur and Purification

Ram-Janaki Vivah Panchami. The greatest festival of the Mithila region. The then Ayodhya might have had its own interests associated with the marriage but I will discuss that pre-historic event some other day. For now the events of the last two years are enough.
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Last year during this festival, SAARC (which now exists only in name) summit was held in Kathmandu. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been adorned as an ardent Hindu, had planned to come to Kathmandu via Ayodhya and Janakpur. Later, showing security concerns, he flew directly from Delhi. Whatever happened, happened for good. How could Nepalese, who can not secure their border, guarantee the security of the One and Only of India and the one who has placed himself among the most influential in the world? I had expected the people would be against him for changing the route, but they came up against their own government. They took down the gates that had been set up around Janakpur, even shut the city down. (There in Ayodhya, people seemed to have been angry with their PM. His loss in the elections proved their annoyance!) I had written twice on this in a Facebook page.

It would have been alright even if hadn’t mentioned the event last year, but I feel it has some relation with what happened this year. What do I have to say about this year’s event in Janakpur? So embarrassing! President Bidya Devi Bhandari was welcomed with the ‘rare petrol’ bomb. What the protesters did after that is clear to all that have access to TV and internet. I can’t probably explain in words here. But the President was blamed for whatever happened. Many said that she should never have gone because of the ongoing Madhes strike. I thought, ‘Might be true! President’s visit surfaced up the security challenges there. Until she went, there was a false consolation of security.’

Based on the above two incidents, I had commented on a facebook page that the nationality of those who closed Janakpur while the Indian PM did not visit but protested the visit of Nepali President was doubtful. But I had felt that the core of the protest was something else. The news on the Nagarik proved it.

Before I heard of the attack on President Bidya Devi Bhandari, I was watching a Colors TV soap opera ‘Ishq ka rang safed’ (Readers might scold me for talking about nationality and watching a foreign channel. But what should I do if the government buys them and says to watch them. Also, one does not become anti-national by watching programmes on foreign languages. If someone says so, they are narrow-minded to me.) Focusing the story of widow marriage, the serial shows the problems faced by the widows in the society. The initial episodes included scenes of widows being prohibited from entering the temples. The scenes of purification of temple had also come up. Problems thus created have carried on the story until now. Here, the Janaki temple was ‘purified’ for being worshipped by the President!

As a widow of Late Madan Bhandari, the struggles of Bidya Devi Bhandari will probably make up a novel. Some even say that she was involved in the death(murder) of her husband. But such baseless accusations should not mask her struggles in this society. Isn’t the ‘purification’ of Janaki Mandir a chapter in the pain the society that has been giving to her as a widow? Don’t accusations of ‘woman’s brain’ and ‘purifications’ represent the narrow thoughts in our society?

If our society can undermine a woman who is on the highest seat of the nation, we can imagine the pain it gives to poor women. Women who have been accused of being witches and have been abused are still asking for justice. Alas, women themselves are involved in such accusations! Will the society ever understand their pains and problems? I don’t think it will ever be able to do so.

Conclusion? After a long discussion, I have been able to conclude nothing at all. Would appreciate readers’ contributions on drawing conclusions.

(Note: While I shared the news on Facebook, I had said that the narrow thoughts of Madhesi people had come forward.  Such thoughts might have prevailed all over Nepal but I had wanted to indicate that those who see narrow-mindedness of Pahades are also not open-minded at all.

Also, I remember the essays of Nagendra (Nagendra Raj Sharma?) ‘Did the narrow minded people come from Kashi?’ He has asked several times. He gives examples of indigenous communities that accept widow marriage. The tradition of Bel Vivah among the Newars, which guarantees a life long ‘saubhagya’, the best of all should be our pride, he says. The aforementioned soap opera is based on Kashi. That is enough to provoke my thoughts over Nagendra’s questions.)

3 Days 3 Quotes- Day 3

Freespirit (Jane) of wannatalkavenscent had nominated me for this challenge on 11th of November. The rules of this challenge are:

1. Post three consecutive days.
2. You can pick one or three quotes per day.
3. Challenge three different bloggers per day.

… Forget about the past. Dare to dream that you are more than the sum of your current circumstances. Expect the best.

-Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

I have nominated the following three people:

koolitzable

Cathy Lynn Brooks

Anush

3 Days 3 Quotes- Day 2

Freespirit (Jane) of wannatalkavenscent had nominated me for this challenge on 11th of November. The rules of this challenge are:

1. Post three consecutive days.
2. You can pick one or three quotes per day.
3. Challenge three different bloggers per day.

समाजले मान्छेको बाहिरी सतही रूपमा मात्र हेरेर यो मान्छे त कति राम्रो, त्यो मान्छे कति कुरुप भन्ने गर्थ्यो तर मलाई कोहि अनुहारले राम्रो र नराम्रो कहिल्यै लागेन |

झमक घिमिरे, जीवन काँडा कि फूल?

Translation:

“The society examines a person’s beauty superficially and says this is beautiful and that is ugly but I never judged a person’s beauty by their face.”

Jhamak Ghimire, Jeevan Kaanda ki Phool (Is Life a Thorn or a Flower)

Jhamak Ghimire is a Nepali writer born with cerebral palsy. Her body is paralyzed and she cannot talk. With only two toes of left foot working, she writes her emotions on paper. The book from which this quote is taken won the Madan Puraskar, the greatest prize of Nepali Literature. Each and every word of her book is an inspiration. She has changed the meaning of disability. “Disability is not an inability to move your limbs,” she says, “but an inability to use your thoughts for welfare of the society.”

I have nominated the following three people:

Anish Khanal

Wandering Soul

Samir Acharya

 

 

3 Days 3 Quotes- Day 1

Freespirit (Jane) of wannatalkavenscent had nominated me for this challenge on 11th of November. The rules of this challenge are:

1. Post three consecutive days.
2. You can pick one or three quotes per day.
3. Challenge three different bloggers per day.

“I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure.”

-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Santiago, the shepherd reaches Africa, where he is robbed off his little wealth. Torn between the despair of being cheated and the goal he has to pursue, he finally decides to move on.

We, too are adventurers. We seek our own treasures- happiness. We might have to face troubles in our ways, but we have to move on. Nothing can be compared with the happiness and satisfaction, we get at the end of our adventures.

I have nominated the following three people:

Nisthur Anadi

Sabahbatul

The Desi Vagabond

भारतलाइ गाली गर्नुभन्दा आफु स्वाभिमानी बन्न सिकौं

विनोदका अक्षरहरु

विनोद पौडेल

यतिबेला सामाजिक संजालमा पानीपुरी बेच्ने एकजना मधेसी वर्णका युवाको फोटो भाइरल बनेको छ । फोटोमा भुइँ भरि पानीपुरी तयार गर्ने सामग्रीहरु छरपस्ट पोखिएका छन् भने ति युवा पोखिएको सामान समाल्दै छन् । देख्दै मायालाग्दो त्यो तस्विरमा लाइक कमेन्ट र सेयरको श्रीङ्खला चलेको छ । कतिपयले स्यावास नेपाली दाजुभाइ यो धो*तीको पानीपुरी पोखिदिएर ठिक गर्यौ भन्ने कमेन्ट गरेका छन् भने कसैले यो भारतिय नागरिक हो यसलाइ यसरीनै लखेट्नुपर्छ भनेका छन् । यसो गरिरहँदा कसैले पनि एउटा मानवियता र धर्म ख्याल गरेका छैनन् । दिनभरि पानीपुरी र चटपटे बेचेर ‘सुका’ र ‘मोहोर’ समाल्दै आफ्नो विहान बेलुका हातमुख जोर्ने ति युवालाइ देख्दा हाम्रो मनले उनीप्रति सहानुभुती जनाउनु पर्थ्यो, माया र सद्भाब दिइनुपर्थ्यो तर त्यसको ठिक उल्टो एउटा आफ्नो श्रम गरेर खानेलाइ हामीले गाली गलौज र तिरस्कार गरेका छौं, हाम्रा सामाजिक संजाल उनकै फोटो राखेर #व्याकअफइन्डिया लेखेका छौं । विचरा ति युवा नेपाली नागरिक हुन् अथवा भारतिय त्यो हाम्रो सरोकारको कुरा भएन…

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Blockade in Nepal: let there be light

Democracy Diary

In today’s world, in one hand, we are struggling for peace, humanity and tolerance, we are talking on the value of peace, need for secularism and prioritizing equality. With all surprise, on the other hand, we can see the silent world against a manmade disaster killing a rising nation silently, which want to believe in all these powerful notions of modern civilized world.

Yes, talking about Nepal; my next door neighbor, facing one of the crucial challenges in its current history.  This is an open concentration camp now and in a complete standstill due to the ongoing protest by the Madheshi community in the region bordering India.

A blockade on the Himalayan nation’s border with India has halted the supply line (read lifeline) of Nepal. Ethnic Madheshi community in the southern plain bordering India is protesting against the new constitution, saying it does not adequately represent them. At least 50…

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