Pathivara, situated in Taplejung district in the far eastern hills of Mechi Zone, is a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. The site is located on a high hillock at an altitude of 4,000 m. It is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year in spite of its difficult accessibility. Goddess at Pathibhara is believed to fulfill the long-cherished dreams of her devotees, like son for sonless and wealth for poor. Devotees make pilgrimage to Pathibhara when their wishes come true. Buddhists living in the vicinity light lamps at the temple on the full moon nights. In the area of Pathibhara are several ponds where pilgrims take holy dips and observe traditional fairs. In this region pilgrims can also visit monasteries situated in Olangchungola and Lungchung, the waterfall at Sawa and the pond of Timbuk, during autumn and spring every year.
Access: Pathibhara Temple is seated at 3,794 meters in Taplejung district. The area is reached by buses up to Sukhetar via Biratnagar and Illam. From Sukhetar is a seven-hour trek to Pathibhara. Travelers can also reach Pathibhara by flight from Biratnagar to Sukhetar.
Barah Kshetra, Sunsari
Barah Kshetra is a major pilgrimage site in Nepal. It lies near Chatara in Sunsari district where the mighty Sapta Koshi River emerges from the mountains and flows into the Terai plains. The site, perched on a hillock that rises gradually up at the confluence of the Sapta Koshi and Koka Rivers, contains a number of temples dedicated to Lord Barah, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Hindu mythology has it that Lord Vishnu took the form of Barah (wild boar) to dig his way into the ground to rescue Mother Earth from the demon Hiranakshya and eventually killed him at this very spot in an epic battle that lasted thousands of years. Hence all the temples here are dedicated to Lord Barah, the boar-headed incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The confluence is also supposed to be the site where the great sage Vishwamitra did penance. Considering its very holy status as the confluence of the two rivers, an Ardha Kumbha Mela is organised at Barah Kshetra every six years where hundreds and thousands of pilgrims come to make religious offerings and take a holy dip in the mighty Sapta Koshi River. The Ardha (meaning half) Kumbha is a miniature form of the grand Kumbha Mela that is held at Sangam Prayag, Allahabad in India at the confluence of the holy Ganges and Jamuna rivers every 12 years. It is considered to be the largest gathering of devotees in the world, running into millions. Other holy places at Barah Kshetra include Guru Barah and Indra Barah.
Access: Barah Kshetra is accessible by road from Biratnagar, a major industrial city in southeast Nepal. Biratnagar has very good air connectivity with Kathmandu.
Pindeshwar Baba Dham, Sunsari
Pindeshwar Baba Dham, a temple devoted to Lord Shiva, is located near Dharan Bazaar. This is a shikhara-style temple with the Shiva lingam made of black stone. Considering its very high religious importance as narrated in the Hindu Scriptures, the site is gaining popularity and drawing large numbers of devotees especially during the Bol Bam Tirtha Yatra when thousands of devotees clad in saffron robes and carrying a kalash (water pot) with water walk bare foot to make water offerings to the Shiva lingam.
Access: Pindeshwar Baba Dham is walking distance from Dharan Bazaar, a booming commercial and educational city in eastern Nepal. The site is accessible by road transport.
Budha Subba/ Dantakali/ Pancha Kanya , Sunsari
Charming little town of Dharan in East Nepal also has the temples of Dantakali, Pancha Kanya and Budha Subba. Most of these temples are located in and around the hill of Bijayapur.
According to the tales of Swasthani, a tooth of Satidevi, Lord Shiva’s consort, fell on the spot where the temple of Dantakali stands today.
Another well-known temple is dedicated to the five known women of Hindu mythology: Draupati, Tara, Kunti, Parvati and Mandodhari. Known as Pancha Kanya Temple, this temple was built by King Mukund Sen seventeenth century A.D. To the northeast of the main market of Bijayapur is a peaceful area surrounded by bamboos where the temple of Budha Subba is situated. The natives of this area sacrifice animals to the Budha Subba to ward off anxiety and suffering. It is said that the temple stands on the spot where the eighteenth century ruler Buddhi Karna Rai was buried.
Access: Dharan is in Sunsari district. It is connected to Kathmandu and Biratnagar by road and by air. The little down in the east of Kathmandu can be reached by an overnight bus from the Gongabu Bus Park in Kathmandu. From Biratnagar, one can hire a vehicle or use the bus to reach Dharan. Moderate facilities of accommodation and food are available in Dharan.
Holy Sites of Kirats
The eastern hilly districts of Nepal are inhabited by the ethnic Kiratis and contain a number of holy sites related to Kirati religious faith. Milke Danda in Tehrathum district, famous for the enchanting rhododendron forest, is one such site. There are also religious sites in Yashok, Panchthar which lies to the north of Ilam.
This three storied pagoda temple is dedicated to Durga and was constructed in early 20th century. It is situated in Ilam Bazar.
Access: Ilam is connected by road from East-West Highway.
Satasi Dham, Jhapa
It is supposed to be the place where the Pandavas stayed during guptabaas.
Tengboche Monastery, Solukhumbu
The Tengboche Monastery is situated at an altitude of 3,867 m on the main Everest trekking route from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. Though not the oldest, but definitely the most famous, this Tibetan Buddhist monastery lies in the midst of an extremely scenic Himalayan panorama with the majestic Ama Dablam peak forming the backdrop. This monastery was constructed in the 20th century. It is said the initial cost of constructing the gompa at Tengboche was borne by four rich men of Khumjung, Junbesi, Namche Bazaar and Gole, while the Sherpa villagers voluntarily contributed their labour, and the monastery was completed in two months. The main temple was destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1934 but was rebuilt with donations and labor contributions by the villagers of Khumbu. In 1989, fire engulfed and burnt down the monastery, which has since been rebuilt. This monastery is well known for the Mani Rimdu festival that takes place in November. The festival, which lasts three days, is marked by the famous mask dances performed by the monks. The dance drama depicts the victory of good over evil.
Access: The easiest way to reach the monastery is by taking a regular flight to Lukla and then walking for three days along the most scenic trekking route that leads to Everest Base Camp.
Halesi Mahadev, Khotang
Halesi Mahadev is a famous Shiva temple located in Khotang district in the eastern hills. Part of the temple is situated underground in a sort of cave and is accessible by a staircase. There is also a Tibetan Buddhist monastery nearby. It is believed that Saint Padmasambhava meditated in the cave known as Maratika near Halesi, which explains the large number of Buddhist pilgrims visiting the site. A large number of pilgrims visit the temple during Shivaratri and Balachaturdashi festivals.
Access: The site is not yet accessible by road from any major town or city. It can only be reached by walking for six hours from a point on the Katari-Ghurmi road. Alternatively, there are jeeps that could be hired from the nearest airfield at Lamidanda (regular flights from Kathmandu) to the temple.
Chhinnamasta or Sakhada Bhagawati is considered a powerful diety. The temple is dedicated to one of the many forms of Goddess Durga. Many pilgrims from Nepal as well as India visit the temple of Sakhada Bhagavati. The goddess is said to fulfill the wishes of her devotees. Sakhada Bhagavati is also worshipped by followers of Tantrism in pursuit of supernatural powers.
Access and Accommodation: Chhinnamasta or Sakhada Bhagwati is in Saptari district near the capital city of Rajbiraj. Rajbiraj is well connected to Biratnagar and Kathmandu. One can ride or hire a vehicle to Sakhada Bhagwati from Rajbiraj. Moderate facilities of food and accommodation are available at Rajbiraj and Biratnagar.