By Sneha Marappa
As I drew the map of India, when my pencil takes a curve towards North Eastern India; I would wonder how small this country could be. Since my school days, it was not just the map that fascinated me about Nepal. I have also been reading about it, a country where Buddha was born, a country where the highest mountain of the earth is, and a country surrounded by beautiful Himalayas. More than this, I hardly knew anything about Nepal, but I was super excited as I was going closer to Himalayas and this was also my first travel with my father.
To add more spice to my excitement, the day we were suppose to board the flight to Kathmandu we were informed that the flight was canceled. The excitement had to be postponed for two more days. We finally landed on the lap of Himalayas on June 29, 2017.
I prefer staying in home stays or Airbnb while traveling as it gives scope to live like a local, understand the culture and relish on local food, support the local community, and also it is easier to find out if there are any hidden gems to explore in their country.
In Kathmandu, we stayed in an area called Siphal at ‘Your Next Home 1’ and Pawan Roy, who is a vivid traveler, researcher and also works with an NGO, was our host. His house is about 30-year old and built with the traditional local architecture. He has immense knowledge about Nepal and was very helpful, suggesting the right places for us to visit. I knew I was closer to mountains but was not expecting for a mountain view from any corner of the town or from a terrace. I was stunned by the amazing view from Pawan’s house terrace; it was my favorite spot to read and to sip hot lemon tea.
When our flight was canceled, I passed on the message to Pawan. He replied asking if we were canceling our trip. I said “no, we are definitely coming to Nepal”. He replied saying, “Shree Pashupatinath definitely wants to see both of you”. Just like he mentioned, Pashupatinath did really want to see us and that was the first place we visited.
Dusk was setting in, we took a walk towards the temple in a narrow road where we found old structures with beautiful carvings, and there was also a small vegetable market around these structures. Coming from India, visiting temples isn’t new to me. But visiting a temple in another country always gives a unique experience, it can be the way the prayers are offered or the way the idol has been dressed or the way mantras are chanted.
As we entered, the main door was shining with glory as the sun was showering its last rays for the day. Most of the devotees were dressed in red clothes as it is considered to be auspicious when they visit a temple. So Pashupatinath finally did get to see us, I thanked him for getting us safely to Nepal to see him. We headed towards seeing the other small temples situated around and reached a place where there were many linghas called as Jyotirlingha.
Most of the Indians dream to visit Pashupatinath temple to see the Jyotirlingha, as the Jyotirlingha in India is considered as the body and the one in Nepal is considered as the head. We did see huge number of our fellow Indians chanting mantras around the temple.
Pawan, our host ,had mentioned to see the aarthi that happens in the late evening by the Bagmati River next to the temple. He said it is very peaceful to see the aarthi and you should not miss it. It was 06:45 in the evening, but the aarthi had not yet started. By then my father was keen to leave. We were in Nepal for eight days and everyone I met would ask me if I got to see the aarthi in Pashupatinath temple. That is when I realized that I missed a big event in the temple.
I was chatting with my friend’s mother on our last day in Nepal. She said go and watch aarthi in the evening. I remembered my friend mentioning that they were in the temple when their grandfather passed away for the final rituals; and aarthi commenced around at the same time. She said they forgot that they were mourning and were immersed during aarthi feeling very peaceful. I later felt it was a great idea to visit the temple again before leaving and also we would get to witness the aarthi.
Since it was a last minute decision, my friend’s mother called a taxi immediately. It was during peak hours when we left the home. Luckily the taxi driver drove through all the possible short cuts and made sure that we reached the temple premises on time. There were hundreds of people humming songs and clapping along with the musician; and I was pleased that I finally got to see the aarthi.
Shiva tandava amidst the river, lamps lit decoratively, everyone around were flowing with music. I was moved to a different world. Surrounded by so many people around, I was feeling my solitary, listening to such good music. I was overwhelmed completely; finally with a feeling that ‘We did see Shree Pashupatinath!’
Sneha is a Girl by Gender and an Indian by Nationality. She grew up in Bengaluru in an orthodox family and worked in a corporate job for more than 6 years. She realized that her life should not be bound in a cubicle inhaling the air from AC ducts. So she quit her job and is now in the world where there are no boundaries, inhaling the fresh air, feeding herself with the wanderlust! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org