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You don't have to be in Switzerland to ride on cable cars. Unlike in the West, the cable car in Nepal takes you up to the abode of Manakamana, the Wish-Fulfilling Goddess, on what you could call a spiritual ride. Legend has it that Manakamana fulfills all wishes. This belief is so ingrained in the collective consciousness of the Nepalese that many make a trip to Manakamana every year without fail. Stories abound of people's wishes coming true: lost sons returning home, lovers finding romance against all odds, people finding success in their business ventures, students excelling in their exams, separated husband and wife getting back together, and on and on. Even if you have no wishes to make (assuming that you have got it all, which means you have no need of Manakamana's blessings) or even if you are an atheist or agnostic, this place offers you a unique look into Nepali people's faith in Goddess Manakamana. Also you could look at the river valleys and the Himalayas from here. Or just explore the hamlets downhill.
Venerated since the 17th Century, Manakamana commands royal patronage, and the devotion of millions of Nepalese and spirituality-seeking tourists. In the past, millions of pilgrims made a long arduous trek up to the hilltop temple of Manakamana. Many still do.
Now that the Manakamana Darshan Pvt. Ltd. has started Nepal's first cable car service with the technical assistance of Doppelmayr, an Austrian Cable Car Company, would-be visitors to Manakamana have an option of getting there from the Cable Car Station in Cheres in 10 minutes flat or less! The ride covers the distance of 2.8 kilometers. With 31 passenger and 3 cargo cars, each with a seating capacity of 6, the system has the overall capacity of handling 600 persons per hour!
Situated atop a hill (1302 m) 12 km south of the historic town of Gorkha and 6 km north of Mugling, the Manakamana temple overlooks terraced fields, and the Trisuli and Marsyangdi river valleys. The hilltop also offers a vantage point for taking in the breath-taking view of the Manaslu-Himalchuli and Annapurna massifs to the north.
The legend of Manakamana goddess goes back to the time of Gorkha King Ram Shah (1614-1636 A.D.). His Queen possessed divine powers known only to her devotee Lakhan Thapa, her religious preceptor. On one occasion, the King found the Queen as Goddess and Lakhan as a lion. Following the revelation, the King mentioned it to the Queen and suddenly died. He was cremated, and when the Queen approached the funeral pyre to commit sati as was the custom back then, she consoled her lamenting devotee Lakhan by saying that she would reappear soon near his home. Six months later a certain farmer ploughing a field hit a stone, cleaved it and saw blood and milk flow forth. When the news got around to Lakhan, he knew that his wish had come true. The flow ceased when Lakhan worshipped the stone using his tantric knowledge. When the then ruling king of Gorkha learnt of this incident, he donated land and a grant to perpetuate the worship of Manakamana. This deed was invested with a Lal Mohar and the present Thapa-Magar pujari is the 17th generation descendant of Lakhan Thapa.
The shrine of Manakamana was renovated many times over the centuries. The present four-storey temple on a square pedestal has pagoda-style roofs. The entrance is to be entered from the southwest, and it is marked by stone pillars, one of which is the sacrificial pillar. The principal pujari is a Thapa-Magar and he performs daily prayers in the temple. The Magar priest performs rituals behind closed doors by offering egg, orange, rice, red powder (also called vermilion), and strips of cloth to the goddess. Only after the pujari is done with his puja that the public's turn comes.