Chandragiri Hill Reinvented
Chandragiri hill, located west of Kathmandu Valley, has caught fancy of many people these days. Unlike the pristine Chandragiri from where Nepal’s unifier Prithvi Narayan Shah caught the first glimpse of splendid Nepal Valley and grew a desire to conquer it more than two and a half centuries ago, modern denizens are attracted to its glamorous look. The historic and mythical Chandragiri hill has received commercial, religious and touristic dimensions with the opening of a cable car service that ferries hundreds of people from the foothill to the top on a daily basis
Its historic identity has remained its vital attribute. What would have happened if PN Shah had not passed through that top hill and not seen the strategic and rich valley? Would he have launched his unification drive, had he not been fascinated by it? These are just hypothetical questions already consigned to the womb of unwritten history. What is more important is that he saw, came and conquered it, and laid the foundation of modern Nepal.
While returning to Gorkha from his father-in-law’s home in Makawanpur, PN Shah was excited to watching the scenic and prosperous valley. It instilled a desire in him to bring it to the fold of his tiny Gorkha Kingdom and make the capital of greater Nepal. His accompanying astrologers - Bhanu Aryal and Kulananda Dhakal- lifted his spirit by telling him that his wish would come true.
This historic facet is also linked with the myth of Shiva. Over the hill there is Bhaleshwor Mahadev Temple. The local folks believe that ‘Bhala’ (forehead) of Satidevi, wife of Shiva, fell off from her dead body there. Satidevi was a daughter of Daksha Prajapati, who insulted Shiva to the extent that she could not tolerate it and jumped into a fire. Enraged Shiva carried her body and walked across the world without becoming aware of the fact that her body was decaying and its parts were coming off. The places where the organs of Sati Devi dropped turned out to be Shaktipithas (shrines with energy). One may wonder how Lord Shiva came to this place wandering from the foot of mountains. PN Shah is said to have worshipped the Bhaleshwor Mahadev seeking the God’s blessing to fulfill his dream, according to a legend.
When this scribe visited the hill some days ago, he confronted history, myth and modernity at once. But, the people seem to have little interest in history and legend. Even their spiritual journey is overshadowed by their urge to enjoy the spectacular nature. The enthusiastic visitors feast their eyes on the view of the entire valley, surrounded by high hills and stunning snow-capped mountains. This is for what the Chandragiri hill is famous and people tour there these days. From the top of Chandragiri, it becomes obvious how the concrete jungle of the valley contrasts with its green surroundings. When the view of valley that is dotted with ugly structure does not inspire us much, the high hills and white snow in the far distant provides us a breath of fresh air while coming out far from the madding crowd.
Mostly the visitors are busy taking snapshots of the valley and the snow-capped mountains in the background, thanks to the ubiquitous smart mobile phones with a built-in camera. The gadget has become a handy tool to capture their happy moments with innumerable clicks. However, their passion to shoot themselves has reached a narcissistic proportion. The digital infection has gripped the people virtually from all walks of life. This may deprive them of enjoying the exquisite nature to the fullest.