Manakamana of Tumlingtar

The Hindu temple of Manakamana is located in a picturesque setting alongside the Arum River in the Tumlingtar Region of Nepal. The temple is a revered pilgrimage site where both Hindus and Buddhists gather to worship the goddess Manakamana. In November, on the eleventh day following the new moon of the month of Kartik, a special festival takes place with thousands of pilgrims flocking to the temple where fasting, dancing, singing and other rituals, including bathing in the river and animal sacrifice, are observed in honor of this Hindu goddess.

Manakamana is looked upon as the goddess who fulfills the wishes of her worshippers. Her name is a combination of the terms mana, meaning heart, and kamana meaning wish. The history of the origin of the Goddess Manakamana reveals that the Queen of King Ram Shah (the King of Gorkha) was secretly a goddess and was only recognized as such by her single devotee. However, one day the King saw the Queen in her goddess form, and upon telling her that he knew of her secret, he died instantly. The Queen then submitted to being cremated on her husband’s funeral pyre, as was the custom of the time (1636 AD). Manakamana’s single devotee, Lakhan Thapa, was devastated. Some months later a farmer in a nearby field hit a stone with his plough, causing blood and milk to flow from the stone, which Lakhan Thapa saw as a sign. Following rituals performed by Manakamana’s devotee, the flow stopped and the site was declared holy with the temple later being built on the spot.

Up to a hundred holy men and women live around the temple, and visiting pilgrims take the opportunity to interact with them as part of their pilgrimage. The peaceful surroundings are conducive to meditation and prayer, and pilgrims enjoy bathing in the cool, fresh water of the Arum River. The pagoda-style temple is beautifully decorated and is considered to be of both religious and historic importance in Nepal.

The Tumlingtar Region of Nepal has the city of the same name as its capital. It consists primarily of a deep valley located between the Sabha River and Arun River in the Kosi Zone in Eastern Nepal. The majority of the population is of the Kumal indigenous tribe, with other tribes in the area including Chhetri, Rai, Tamang, Bahun and Majhi. Traditionally the Kumal tribe is known for their pot making skills, although only a small percentage of the population have continued with this tradition.