The small but important Manakamana temple is located off the Prithvi Narayan just 6km before Mugling atop a green hill which has a cable car. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Bhagwati who is said to grant wishes to all those that visit her there.
Built in the 17th century the temple, despite its importance, is a small two tiered pagoda styled building. There's a cable car that runs up to the temple which attracts many Nepali. There's also a walking route pilgrims or those who cannot afford the cable car fee use.
Manakamana is popular with Hindus throughout Nepal and India. Many Newari also visit the temple for marriages. On Saturdays animal sacrifices often take place. For tourists looking to avoid crowds it's best to avoid Fridays and Saturdays.
Quick look to see if you would like Manakamana Temple
Interests: Revered temple, cable car
Time Needed: 1 hour + 5 hours travel to reach
Manakamana temple is located on a hill 5km before Mugling in Gorkha district, Gandaki province in Nepal. It's 141.3 km west of Kathmandu and 105.3 km east of Pokhara. In terms of nearby sights Manakamana is close to both Gorkha Durbar (12 km) and Bandipur via Dumre.
Manakamana sits at an elevation of 1,302 meters which is worth keeping in mind if you decide to take the walk up to it instead of the cable car.
Reaching Manakamana is relatively easy though the journey is often much longer than ones stay there.
Gongabu (New Bus Park) in Kathmandu has frequent buses to Kurintar (5 hours). From there you'll be greeted by a large concrete gate where you can take the cable car up to the temple. Alternatively you could take a bus and get off at Anbu Khaireni (3.5 hours) and then take the 2 hour walk up to the temple.
From Pokhara's old bus park it's 4 hours to Kurintar.
Returning to either Kathmandu or Pokhara should be done relatively early in the afternoon if you are not staying in Manakamana. Frequent local buses and mini vans stop or can be flagged down by Kurintar.
There are plenty of day tours to Manakamana which are overpriced and use mini-vans. Many incorporate Gorkha Durbar into the trip as it is nearby. There's limited time on these tours so unless you are going to/from Kathmandu/Pokhara and want to incorporate these stops you might prefer to make your own way.
Private jeeps and cars to/from Kathmandu/Pokhara can easily stop off at Kurintar as it's on the main highway.
Tourist buses to/from Kathmandu/Pokhara also pass by Kurintar and will drop you off here but they will not wait for you.
If you are planning to go, do keep in mind that the temple and cable car are packed on a Saturday with locals. If you are looking for a quieter expereince, go on a weekday.
This map shows you the main area of Manakamana, bus stops and the temple location.
Manakamana's history dates back to the 17th century when it was founded. It's based on a legend from the Gorkha kingdom which ruled the area then.
A queen with divine powers
In the 17th century king Ram Shah ruled the area. His queen was said to have divine powers which only her devotee Lakan Thapa knew about. However one day the king witnesses these powers as she transformed in the goddess while Lakan Thapa was transformed into a lion.
The king told the queen what he had seen and promptly died mysteriously.
A queen dies
As was the ritual at that time the queen committed Sati (she threw herself on his funeral pyre). Before doing so she told Lakan Thapa not to worry as she would appear again.
A stone is found
Six months after the queens death a farmer ploughing his field hit a stone. Upon moving the stone he noticed that it was flowing with milk and bleeding.
Lakan Thapa began the process of several tantric rituals around the stone which then stopped the flow of blood and milk.
The temple is built
The site where the stone was discovered became the foundation for the Manakamana temple. Following it's construction the only priests allowed to tend the temple are the descendants of Lakan Thapa.
If you are not Nepali or Indian then expect a rather disproportionate price hike. Tourists are charge a wallet gauging USD 20 for the 10 minutes ride which include a return fare.
The cable car was the first in Nepal and built by an Austrian company in 1998. It covers 2.8 km over a 10 minute ride.
There are 31 cable cars which can hold 6 people and there are 3 cargo cars. Passengers are allowed only 1 bag weighing no more than 1 kilo.
Views from the cable car of the valley are good on a clear day and also show the Trishuli river below.
Huge queues for the cable car often form, especially on a Saturday which can last up to 2 hours. It's well worth coming down via cable car before 4pm as crowds and queues can often form quickly.
Hours of operation 9am - 5pm. Lunch break 12 noon to 1.30pm.
One aspect of the cable car and Manakamana which has run amok is the proliferation of giant billboard signs that now dot the once pristine hill. Several other cable cars have now been build and are planned to be built in Nepal.
The Manakamana temple itself is a small two-roofed pagoda style temple. It's small stature is usually a surprise to many given its importance throughout Nepal. The temple is surrounded by several Taleju bells. A lion sits on stone column at one end.
The temple sits across from a huge magnolia tree and a nearby sacrificial alter. Pilgrims visit the temple throughout the year but on Fridays and Saturdays it becomes quite full.
Saturdays are when many of the animal sacrifices occur so this is the best day to avoid if you don't want to see these events.
Currently there is no entrance fee to visit Manakamana temple. The cable car does however have fees.
- Nepali/Indian: 640 rupees
- Child: 350 rupee
- Foreigner USD $20
- Luggage 15 rupees per kilo
Manakamana can be visited at any time of the year. However monsoon season will mean the that the views from the cable car will be obscured.
Manakamana Weather by month (Gorkha)
|Precipitation / Rainfall (mm)|
There is no weather station on Manakamana nor in Gorkha. The above weather charts is based on nearby averages.
There is a reasonable though pricey restaurant by the cable car in Kurintar. Expect typical bus stop food similar to the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus stops. Dal Bhat, momos and chow mien.
Aside from local menus near the temple the resort hotels nearby serve good meals like egg noodle soup
There are many small local restaurants around Manakamana itself which again mainly serve local food and light snacks. It's worth looking at each place to see which is popular on the given day you visit.
If you plan to stay in Manakamana then do not many hotels are named "Manakamana" throughout Nepal and many also make reference to the temple.
Around the immediate area are local guest houses and a few high end hotels.
The best of the bunch in Gorkha is Summit River Lodge located quite close to the Kurintar bus stop. Offering plush air-conditioned rooms that will set you back quite a bit. The service is good as is the restaurants. If you fancy a stay in a nice place in Manakamana this would be it.
Riverside Spring Resort located nearly directly across with cheaper room that are also in fine condition. There's a small pool here and the restaurant serves a mix of good meals.
There are several other hotels that randomly appear or change name throughout the year along the road before Kurintar. It's worth calling into them to see if they have what you want in a room. Closer to the temple are a few rough and ready local guesthouses. Do be aware that on Fridays and Saturdays prices rise and so do bookings.
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