Chandra Giri Hill - Kathmandu Valley - Nepal

Teej festival - Pashipatinath nabij Kathmandu

Chandra Giri Hill - Kathmandu Valley - Nepal

Chandra Giri Hill

Once you reach the vantage point, the entire Kathmandu Valley unfolds like a giant map. From Budhanilkantha in the north to Bhaktapur in the east, one can see the entire stretch of the Ring Road, visibly outlined by the giant pipal trees that have been planted on either side of the road.

 The present landscape isn't exactly what Prithivi Narayan shah might have seen in the early 1760s when, with arms akimbo, he is said to have surveyed the Kathmandu Valley as his next conquest. But the panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley from a top the Chandragiri Hill still continue to lure many people to this day. Especially so after the access through the thick foliage has been made easy by the construction of a stone paved motor able road that takes you straight to the Hattiban Resort on top of the western peak of the hill range. On a sturdy enough motorbike or a car, the ride takes about twenty minutes from the highway leading to Pharping, while many visitors still choose to hike all the way up, enjoying the natural sights and smell first hand.

Once you reach the vantage point, the entire Kathmandu Valley unfolds like a giant map. From Budhanilkantha in the north to Bhaktapur in the east, one can see the entire stretch of the Ring Road, visibly outlined by the giant pipal trees that have been planted on either side of the road. And if the weather's all right, you can even identify manmade landmarks like the Royal Palace, Rani Pokhari and Dharahara, which, one must say, surprisingly doesn't appear to be in the center of the valley. The airport runway looks like a giant log laid to rest amidst an ocean of buildings, while the distant Lalitpur and Bhaktapur look like nothing more than specks of dust. Indeed, from the top, one can't help wondering about how small and insignificant the human from is compared to the other spectacles of nature.

But even this diminished perspective does offer detailed views of the some nearby settlements, specially the ancient villages of Khohana and Bungmati. Famous for its traditionally pressed and blended mustard oil, the Khokana village is marked buy the unmistakable silhouette of the Surrya Vinayak temple, one of the most revered forms of Lord Ganesh. The vibrant red colors of the baked bricks used in the constructions of all the temples and housed make the entire village shine like a ruby in the middle of luscious green pastures made of the finest emeralds. The luster is matched only by that of Bungmati, which becomes a scene of intense religious activities during the chariot pulling festival of the Rato Machchhindranath.

The other imposing landmark seen from Kattiban is the Chobhar Gorge, which mythically and geologically is the only major water drainage out of the valley. Legend relates the dramatic formation of this gorge to a time where massive demons terrorized the lands and the gods frequently intervened to protect their subjects. As such, it is believed that Chandragiri was a place of intense divine activities, this being the place from where Manjushree (or Krishna) used his massive sword to split open chobahar and slay the mighty Kachchhaspasur or the tortoise demon who had blocked the outlet in the first place and turned the valley into a lake. The prodding Chobhar hill is believed to be the remains of this mighty demon, and strangely enough from a top the chandragiri, the rather small hill looks like a tortoise shell.

Still, just alongside this ancient attraction are the much modern but ghostly remains of the defunct Himal Cement Factory, acting also as a reminder of the present industrial slump in the country. While on the other side of the hill, one can see Nepal's first hydroelectric plant, which was built downhill from pharping in 1911 by the then Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher, Interestingly, the entire electric output from the power.

And yet, there are so many other interesting stories about the Chandra Giri Hill itself. Legend has it that this summit was once so rich in chandan (Sandalwood), trees that Goddess Parvati herself, the mythical mother of all living beings, rummaged around its foothills to look for them. In fact, some scholars believe that the name Chandragiri was derived from the original chandan- giri, giri meaning mountain in Sanskrit, Although, considering the exploits of Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher, it might be equally tempting to attribute the name to him.

Not surprisingly, chandra Shumsher isn't the only one who has left his permanent mark on the mountain. Even at Hattiban itself, besides the buildings of the resort, there is a beautiful Buddhist monastery with large prayer flags all around. Unfortunately though, access to this beautiful abode is difficult for apparent reasons. You can also see the famous gompa of pharping and numerous other religious landmarks from the other side of Hattiban. One of them is the Sesha Narayan Temple, which is acctually a naturally formed cliff face which is actually a naturally formed cliff face which, if you like to work up your imagination a little, looks like the blown up hood of a cobra. Hence the name after the shesh Nag.

But for the most part, the retreat at Hattiban is as beautiful and tranquil as it must have  always been. So many of its trees might have actually witnessed the invasion of Kathmandu by Prithvi Narayan Shah or the overthrow of the Rana Regime, and also the colors of Indra Jatra and the grandeur of the valley that was before. Chances are the trees and the rocks will outlive our own generation and many forthcoming ones. so, in a way, its them, and not us, who are doing the sightseeing.

 

 

 

 

Nepal verslag index

28 september - 5 oktober 2004 - Verslag week 3 (Nepalese taalles, lezing Lama Rimpoche, Budhanilkantha, computerlessen in kinderhuis)

21 - 28 september 2004 - Verslag 2 - o.a. Bouddhanath, Kirtipur en Indra Jatra festival

 

 

 

Lubhoo in the Kathmandu Valley / Kirtipur / Tatopani / Budhanilkantha / Tansen / Chandra Giri Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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