Over the three weeks we have spent in Nepal thus far we have been able to visit numerous holy sites, both Buddhist and Hindu, including the several holy caves and monasteries near our orientation site in Pharping, and the iconic Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu. However, our visit to the local Hindu temple near Chokati felt different to me. The entire Valley in which Chokati is situated felt the full brunt of the 2015 earthquake, as evidenced by the number of families (my homestay family included) still living in “temporary” shelters after their houses were destroyed. Thus it was somewhat surprising to find this temple more or less undamaged, it’s stone walls and gold accents in sharp contrast to the surrounding jungle and farmland. Built as a monument to the god Shiva, the temple was an altogether smaller, more humble affair than many we had visited thus far. But what set this holy place a part in my mind was the profound feeling of isolation-driven authenticity I felt upon stepping through its gates. This place has never appeared on any map or in any guidebook -and it quite possibly never will. I felt almost a twinge of guilt as I approached the central Shrine to see Shiva, knowing that unlike many such sites, I was one of only a few English speaking Westerner to have set foot there. On the walk back to chokati, I felt lucky to have visited a place which is every bit as holy for the people who venture there to worship, but unlike many other such temples, has get to begin to double as tourist attractions and – hopefully never will.
Here are some pictures of the walk and the temple – in one there is a rainbow!