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Manjushree Cave and the Legend of Kathmandu Valley
[Photo Essay] An adventure spot near Nepal's capital
Nabin Baral (nabinbaral)     Print Article 
Published 2007-06-12 15:37 (KST)   
View of Chovar Gorge from the 104-year-old suspension bridge. Manjushree Cave is in the left wall of this gorge.
©2007 N. Baral
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is rich in arts, architecture, culture and religious spots which make it a great tourist destination for national and international visitors. Manjushree Cave is a new destination in Kathmandu which opened for visitors from Jan. 30.

It is located in Chobhar gorge of Kritipur municipality, which lies in the southern part of Kathmandu Valley. Chobhar gorge, where the Manjushree Cave is located, is related with the interesting legends of the origin of Kathmandu Valley.

According to one of the legends, Kathmandu valley was a lake surrounded by hills during the Pleistocene era. It is believed that Manjushree, a divine saint from China had came here for pilgrimage and saw a huge lotus emanating bright light at the centre of the lake. So he cut a deep gorge allowing the water to drain from the lake because he wanted to observe and worship the lotus.

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The base of the lake became the present Kathmandu valley and the gorge is called Chobhar gorge now. That is why the cave is named after the name of Manjushree.

It is 7 kilometers from central Kathmandu and one hour's drive is enough to reach there if there is no traffic jams in the valley. At the base of the gorge flows the Bagmati River. A 104-year-old suspension bridge gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy the sight of the gorge, Bagmati River and entrance of other mystical caves (which are not open to the public).

Manjushree Cave was formally opened by the Jal Binayak Community Forest Users' Group. The total length of the cave is said to be 1250m long, although only 350m of the cave is open to visitors. One has to pay an entrance fee to explore the cave.

The fees are a minimum US$5 to a maximum $10 per person. The price depends upon the length of the route that a visitor wants to visit. The cost of the headlamp and a cave guide is included in the price.

There are five routes which have been opened at present. These routes converge at different points, so it is possible for visitors to enter from one point and to exit from another point. There are three entrance points; one is the main entrance and the others are Bagh Gufa and Naya Gufa. ('Gufa' means cave in Nepali).

There are two small ponds inside the cave. The first pond is Mahadev Pond which is 40.3m from the main entrance and the other is Naya Pond which is about 60m from main entrance.

On June 4 I had an opportunity to explore Majushree Cave as far as Naya pond with my friend Dev and sister Prya. It was my first experience to explore a cave.

We were accompanied by a female guide named Urmila Shrestha. Before entering the cave I imagined that we could walk inside and be able to take lots of photos, but the reality was different. For most of the route we had to crawl, twist and turn our bodies. There were some parts that we had to climb up and down with great effort.

Due to the adventure my bulky camera was not really suitable to shoot photos inside but still I managed to take some photos. I was not satisfied because I could not take better photos, but I am happy that I have taken some photos and had a great adventure in my life. Below are some photos that I was able to take.

A view of Kathmandu Valley from Balkhu, near Chobhar Gorge
©2007 N. Baral

The main entrance of Manjushree Cave
©2007 N. Baral

The cylindrical route of the cave where visitors have to bend their bodies to pass through. This path can be seen as soon as a visitor enters the cave.
©2007 N. Baral

My sister Prya trying to pass through the narrow route of the cave.
©2007 N. Baral

Natural art on the cave wall
©2007 N. Baral

Some garbage left by a prior visitor to the cave
©2007 N. Baral

The wet wall of the cave. Some parts of the cave are slippery, so one has to pass very carefully.
©2007 N. Baral

Inside the cave you can find a small pond which is named "Naya Pokhari"
©2007 N. Baral

The entrance to other caves that can be seen on the opposite wall from the main entrance to Manjushree Cave. These caves are not open to the public.
©2007 N. Baral
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nabin Baral

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