Beheaded Goat and Bloody Idol above the Clouds in Himalayan Temple
I was in a Jeep tearing its way through muddy mountain roads in Nepal with a misty Abyss always half a meter away, wondering where the fuck I was being brought...
It happened in the end of March last year, when I was travelling in Nepal. Having entered the country from the East, I was exploring this mysterious unearthly place, Himalayas, where highest mountains tear through the clouds that cover up the abysses below the snowy caps.
Just like everybody else visiting this region, I had a strong desire to see Everest, but no desire whatsoever to waste money on a plane to the base camp. So I asked locals about places from where it can be seen. One of those places was called Pathibhara and it was about a 14 hours away from the town I've been in the moment, Taplejung. On the local bus station I learned that there were Jeeps going to Pathibhara and bought a ticket right away. Little did I know...
The next morning, about 4 am I left the hotel and got into the car, where I shared space with a baby goat (henceforth, the Kid). Now, it's not anything unheard of in this part of the World, and the Kid didn't make any trouble (except bleating really loud from time to time), so it didn't matter. For now. Later on, its role in the story will become clear, as well as its grim destiny.
The car started in the different direction than I expected, but it's Nepal after all, so...
Getting around Nepal
Before we go any further, I will describe what a public transportation between cities in Nepal looks like. It's either going with a 4WD off-road vehicle or a bus if the road is paved. The distances are not that huge, but windy, narrow and often damaged roads make it a long and gut-wrenching ride. And Nepalese people seem to have weak stomach so the sides of both buses and jeeps are often covered with vomit that keep on coming. Traffic jams in the middle of nowhere are not uncommon and can last for 6+ hours if you're unlucky enough.
But this particular ride was only about 4 or 5 hours total, including the times when the car was stuck in the mud. The Jeep was old, they say that these vehicles are in operation since WWII. The interior is pretty minimalistic in terms of comfort. Glass and metal, no plastic at all. The only soft things there are seats and passengers. As the car was thrashing and shaking violently all the way, the softest of the passengers, namely girls, vomited in the windows and were scared shitless. They even refused to leave the car when it was stuck and I beckoned them to get out so the men could push it on.
Be that it may, we finally arrived to a village which obviously was not my destination, not even close. Brief investigation shown that it was a hamlet in the foothills of a mountain where Pathibhara Devi Temple stands. It was misty all morning and I couldn't see much farther than a group of soldiers who were rebuilding the way for pilgrims to access the shrine.
I had no clue what that Temple was but the return to Taplejung was scheduled to the evening. Would be too boring to just waste my time in the village awaiting the return ride, so I dropped my luggage in a local shop and went after the rest of the passengers.
To get to the Temple one must first ascend a stone-paved stairway and gain about a kilometer of altitude, not a small feat for many. I'm accustomed to heights and exhausting physical efforts, but it was very hard for me because I have not eaten in the last 24 hours and had almost no sleep. After some time I ran out of fuel and had to stop at a tiny settlement on the way to drink spicy tea and eat some carbs.
It allowed me to proceed and finally get out of the blanket of clouds, revealing astonishing views at snow-covered ridges and vast, vast blue space around. At this point I started to meet descending Hindu pilgrims. Among those, an old woman who fed me a piece of ginger and smeared my face with some powder. Something to help to deal with altitude and cold, I guess.
Pathibhara Devi Temple
Pathibhara Devi (Nepali: पाथिभरा देवी मन्दिर) or Mukkumlung (as mentioned in Mundhum of Limbu people ) is one of the most significant Hindu temple in Nepal, located on the hill of Taplejung. It is also considered one of the holy places for Limbu people. Worshippers from different parts of Nepal and India flock to the temple during special occasions, as it is believed that a pilgrimage to the temple ensures fulfillment of the pilgrims' desires.
It is a spectacular place, never have I seen that many tridents, bells and colourful prayer flags. Thousands of these items are brought here by devotees, along with other offerings...
As soon as I reached the shrine itself, the Kid showed up, being taken somewhere on the leash. The place was smeared with red paint and blood all over, which were bad news for the poor Kid. Indeed, his sole purpose of arriving here was to be sacrificed to the Goddess.
By will of chance, there, on the top, I met some Nepalese guys, one of which happened to be speaking Russian, having lived and studied medicine in a russian university in Tver city. So I joined them and we went back to the village to pick my luggage and then some kilometers until the places they parked their car.
Having returned to Taplejung, we went to a local cafe to get some food and drink Rakshi, traditional alcoholic beverage in Nepal and Tibet. It was a great way to conclude the unexpected adventure.
All in all, nothing in that day went as planned. And I damn glad it did, it was the best mistake of my life so far.
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