Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 5

Evening of 25th June…

We decided to take a walk and explore the area near our hotel. As we stepped on to the main road, the first thing that strikes one is the dust in the air… Quite a few of the roads are in a state of disrepair… Broken, rubble ridden… Vehicles raising a lot dust… It is not easy to walk… One noticed that many local people were wearing nose masks… Looks like it may be a necessity if we are to walk around much…

As we maneuvered our way with hops , skips and jumps,  we decided to go to a temple called Nag Pokhari. Shankar had done some Net look-up and the place was his suggestion. It was somewhere in the vicinity and we should be able to ask around and find it… The sky was darkening rapidly and soon welcomed us to Kathmandu with a nice shower… We had no umbrellas, nor raincoats… So we ducked into some place, here and there, for shelter.  The ladies preferred shelters where one could shop as well… And so there was some hide and seek, and so it went…. One person in our group was interested in buying a Salagrama shila in Nepal… Salagrama (or Shaligrama) are iconic manifestations of Lord Vishnu. These are black fossil stones, found in river Gandaki in Nepal… As we talked about it, I mentioned that one is not generally supposed to buy a Salagrama… Asked as to how then one was  to get a Salagrama, one mentioned that it may be received from someone, but not bought… That is the tradition…. And so the desire was left hanging…

We did step into a shop which sold trekking stuff… But the prices seemed high, aimed at  Westerners one presumes… This was perhaps up-market.. And as the rain eased, we continued out walk…. Asking around, we reached Nag Pokhari…

When we stepped in, we saw an old pond, with a pillar in the centre, with a snake hood on top… Nag pokhari means ‘Snake Lake’ or ‘Snake Pond’…

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nagpokhari

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The pond had greenish water… There was a walking path around the pond, and we instinctively decided to a parikrama of the pond… One came to know later that the pond is quite ancient. There is a nice tale associated with it, which I came across in the Net. (For the detailed story, click here..) Here it is in brief… Apparently a Prince of the country once passed by and happened to see a beautiful young girl bathing there. He fell in love, and she reciprocated… When he proposed marriage to her, she agreed with one condition. The condition was that on Naga Panchami day (fifth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Shravana) she would go away for 24 hours, and that the Prince was not to ask her anything about it… Were he to be inquisitive and find out where she went, great harm would befall him.. The Prince agreed and they were married and were living happily. She would, true to her condition, go away on Naga Panchami day… Some years later, on Naga Panchami day, curiosity overcame the Prince… And he followed her… She went to this pond and walked into it. She actually was a Naga Kanya (a snake girl), who could change her form at will. She was the princess of the Naga Loka, which she entered in this lake. When she had fallen in love with a human rather than with a snake, her father, the snake King had cursed her that she would have to re-become a snake once a year on Naga Panchami day, and if her lover Prince came to know of it, he would die. Now, when the princess entered into the pond, she changed into a snake, and the Prince saw it. No sooner he saw it, he became blind… And was killed by the snake King immediately thereafter… The princess, heart broken, gave up her life as well…

The two of them are said to be seen sometimes, here in Naga Pokhari, on full moon night… So that is the tale…. When we visited there, someone in that place mentioned to us that two snakes are seen coming out of the pond on particular days.

Be the stories as they may, Naga has a powerful connect in Nepal. Naga Panchami is an important festival here. On this day, people keep a picture of a Naga outside their homes, and offer ritual worship…  And in Nag Pokhari, the central Snake Pillar is offered worship by a priest… And people, one and all, are also allowed to offer worship to this idol on that one day of the year… The festival this year, is a week from now, next Sunday – the 11th of August…

In Nag Pokhri, the front yard separating the lake and the road has a small temple built on it… A nice old priest welcomed us… The temple was that of Santoshi Ma… One understands that the temple was built a little more than fifteen years before. Lots of devotees of Santoshi Ma (The Goddess Mother of Contentment) observe ritual vows and offer prayers to the Goddess here… (To know more about  this temple click here…)

Night had set in… We sat near the Pond… A Litany of Goddess Uma was chanted… She is Lord Siva’s consort… Daughter of Himavan, the King who personifies the Himalaya mountains… We need her blessings for the yatra to her abode in Kailasa… One also chanted Durga Pancakam, a five verse stotra, composed by the sage of Kanchi, Jagadguru Paramacharya…  We recalled and chatted about how He blessed Dr Subramaniam Swami to take up the matter of reopening Kailasa Manasarovara for Indian pilgrims, with the Chinese Government.. And how, the yatra, which had been closed down in 1952, was again reopened by China in 1982… (Click here to see a youtube clip of Dr Swami narrating this)

Coming back to Naga Pokhri… It was night time… The rains had stopped… But there was moisture in the air… And next to the pond, just a few days after the biggest full moon of the year, it was magical…

But there was more magic to come… The priest of Santoshi Mata temple was ever so kind.

He gave each of us a Salagrama shila…

** To be continued **

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7 Responses to “Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 5”

  1. Rajaram Says:

    hi Kamesh
    could read all the 5 parts today – great narration. you have kindled the interest to visit these parts. hm have to find an opportunity to do so.
    Ramji

  2. Ravichandran S K Says:

    I am also looking for a chance to go!

  3. Sai Madhavan Says:

    Kamesh – I will be visiting Mukthi Nath (salagramam) in a month, so find your experience very valuable

  4. Srini Says:

    Nice story. I never knew Subramanian Swamy was responsible for getting Kailash Manasarovar opened up for Indian pilgrims. He has done many other things for the people, with this he has really rendered a great service.

  5. gkamesh Says:

    Thanks folks!

  6. Anjun Krishnan Says:

    Guruji
    Great writing…wish I was there with you…your wordsmithing makes me feel that I was there with you.
    A.T

  7. Shankar Says:

    I was with him and his words brings it alive and more. Reading his blog is savouring a once in a lifetime experience …again.

    THANK YOU Kameshwar!!!

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