From the tiny hamlet of Cheres (6km before Mugling), an Austrian-engineered cable car soars up an almost impossibly steep hillside to the ancient Manakamana Temple, one of the most important temples in the Middle Hills. Hindus believe that the goddess Bhagwati, an incarnation of Parvati, has the power to grant wishes, and newlyweds flock here to pray for male children.
But this good fortune comes at a price – pilgrims seal the deal by sacrificing a goat, chicken or pigeon in a gory pavilion behind the temple. There’s even a dedicated carriage on the cable car for sacrificial goats.
Built in the tiered pagoda style, the temple dates back to the 17th century. It has a stunning Himalayan backdrop. On Saturdays and other feast days, Manakamana almost vanishes under a sea of pilgrims and the paving stones run red with sacrificial blood.
Part of the highlight of a visit here is getting to the temple in the awesome Manakamana cable car, which rises more than 1000m as it covers the 2.8km from the Prithvi Hwy to the Manakamana ridge. The price for goats is Rs 130 but they only get a one-way ticket… Expect long queues on weekends and holidays.
There are dozens of pilgrim hotels in the village surrounding the temple, with Sunrise Home having spotless, spacious rooms with fans and TVs. Prices almost double on Saturdays and religious holidays.
All buses that run between Kathmandu (Rs 200, three hours) and Pokhara (Rs 250, four hours) or Chitwan (Rs 150, 1½ hours) pass the turn-off to the Manakamana cable car (look for the red-brick archway). Otherwise if you want to walk to Manakamana, the trail starts at the village of Abu Khaireni, and takes around five hours.