PICS: BIKRAM RAI
There are plenty of getaways around Kathmandu, ideal for mini excursion if you know where to look. Just 6km from the busy city and walking distance from Patan is the scenic and historic hilltop settlement of Chobhar. it overlooks the Bagmati where it exits the Valley through a gorge cut by Manjushree.
On the hill is the 15th century Adinath Lokeshwor Temple dedicated to Rato Machhindranath with an astounding array of metal pots, pans and water containers hanging from the roof, donated by newlyweds to ensure a happy marriage. Also known as Karunamaya, the deity is reverred by both Hindus and Buddhists as incarnations of Shiva and Avalokiteshvara.
A carnival is held here from full moon of Dasain to Tihar. According to legend, as recounted by temple priest Rajesh Shakya a local cow herder found the statue of Adinath Lokeshwor in the nearby Nakkhu River and established it in the temple on top of the hill. Since then, every year the Kalash from the temple is filled with water from the Nakkhu River and is offered to the god.
Women perform a five day fast known as 'Nirjala', drinking only the holy water from the temple after they have visited and taken a ritual bath in five holy spots. There is a belief that such harsh fasting settles any kinds of dispute between the married couple and ensures a happy married life.
Another attraction of Chobhar is a bathing ceremony held the first day after Ghode Jatra in May in the presence of the priest. The figure of the god is carried in a chariot by four members of Nemkul family to Nani Tole where the statue is bathed with milk. A line of priests belonging to the Shakya family have been serving the temple for generations.
Chobhar is a quiet and tranquil village which overlooks Kathmandu city, but could as well be far away in time and space. It is a photogenic place, and a perfect venue for photographs of the Valley and the mountains beyond when the monsoon ends. The route to Chobhar is also great for bicycle enthusiasts, and an annual mountain biking championship is held in the cement quarry on the other side of the hill.
The simplicity and cheerfulness of the locals, and its rustic old world charm gives Chobhar an added draw. An early morning trip to the hilltop town offers amazing views of the sun rising from behind Gauri Shankhar in the northeast, as the Valley wakes up slowly from slumber.
Chobhar, so far and yet so near.
London calling, RABI THAPA
This time it's us watching them, but maybe Nepal should be more worried about its own youth