Gokarneshwar Temple Nepal at Dawn


Gokarneshwar (Lord of Gokarna) Temple at dawn. Photographs©Chulie de Silva

Temples bathed in the early morning soft sunlight shrouds a spiritual aura that is difficult to describe in words. The aura sort of envelopes you filling you with a refreshing  peaceful calm. The air was cold and sharp and made  my fingers go numb.  But the slowly rising  sun was warming us as it rose in front of this triple roofed  Gokarneshwar (Lord of Gokarna) temple built in 1582 on the banks of the Holy Bagmati river.

On the way, my Indian friends had wanted to know if I wanted milk for the puja. Not knowing exactly what it was I had said yes. I was more interested in photographing but it was a case of first things first. So we took off shoes and climbed a few steps with my friends for the puja. The inner sanctum enshrined a particularly revered Shiva lingam. The milk packets were opened and poured over the lingam by the priest. No photographs there,  so after a quick recital of the Buddhist verses I knew I came out. 

Monkeys walked among the statues brazenly picking up offerings to eat and soothsayers, and horoscope readers were seated in the periphery of the temple. Prayers were said, offerings made and the sound of bells being rung tingled through the cold misty air.

The temple bells  were everywhere, from the huge one at the entrance to little ones near statues.  I too followed my friends and rang the big bell as we went in.  You need to do it to mark your presence,  I was told. There are steep steps that lead on to what is possibly a little arm of the Bagmati river where the worshippers  cleansed themselves.  The river considered holy in the Kathmandu valley is supposed to flow from the mouth of a tiger known as Baagdwar.

Morning images at Gokarneshwar Temple. Photographs©Chulie de Silva

The temple is famous for its collection of sculptures and reliefs that are all around the site. Some date back more than a thousand years.   I am told that the sculptures illustrate an A to Z of Hindu mythology, including early Vedic gods such as Aditya (Sun God), Chandra (Moon God), Indra (on an elephant) and Ganga (with four arms and a pot on her head from which pours the Ganges). Shiva appears in several forms, including as Kamadeva, the God of Love. Apparently, Lord Shiva came to live and hide in the Gokarna Forest disguised as a deer – albeit a deer with a golden horn.  I suppose gods also need a break from the usual work. I wished I too could have absconded from work and stayed a lot longer at the temple.

12 thoughts on “Gokarneshwar Temple Nepal at Dawn

  1. You are a lucky person to see new places, new people and new practices. I wish you were a sari wearing lady, to tag along with you grabbing the end of pallu. Wonder whether you have been to Rishikesh, Haridwar and Dehra Dun. I wish I would have the time in the world to join you in one of your escapades.

  2. Madame Chulie

    Well written.

    I always told you that you would make an excellent in-flight magazine writer. I visualize you as Editor-in-chief for Kris Magazine in Singapore Airlines. You should also write for Fodors!

    Btw, the name Gokarna is the same as Gokanna in Pali or Koneswaram in Tamil which stands for Trincomalee. Both have Shiva shrines of antiquity.

  3. You see about ten times more than I do, Chulie. Am so glad you take the time to share your observations. I feel so fortunate to be able to “tag along with you.” There could never be too many pictures. Your photos enlarged are just perfect. Thank you so much for sharing your talents. Am looking forward to your next.

  4. In the 1950s my father went to Nepal for the AGM of the World Fellowship of Buddhists of which he was the General Secretary. He brought back lovely B&W photographs of the country that was pre-hippie invasion, and really medieval. The wooden architecture of the country is stunning – its great that they still look agter them and do not forget their beginnings and customs, as we are prone to doing here.
    Well done, Chulie

  5. Beautiful, both the photos and the writing. Every time I see photos like this, my ‘thanha’ gets roused and I want to buy a good camera which can take quality photos. I have to then tell myself there are those who are better – in fact excellent at it, so sit back, relax and enjoy their work.

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Chulie, this is a beautiful piece of writing and photography. You have captured the aura and the golden rays of the sun playing on the temple and on the murti.

    I am happy that you too participated in the milk abhishekam at the temple and recited the gatha – at the end we are all One and in what ever language we pray, we are praying to same Lord called by various names.

    Congratulations – a fascinating work of art.


  7. Pingback: Best Photo Memories of 2010 « Chuls Bits & Pics

  8. Pingback: A Virtual Escape to Gokarna Forest « Chuls Bits & Pics

  9. Thank you for the virtual visit to the Gokarna Forest reserve in celebration of World Environment Day.(I hope the Golf course will remain at the edge of the forest and not move any further!) Anyway from there I wafted off to Gokarna Temple and even peeped at a little detail of the Gokarna flower. What a peaceful way to wonder away even for a few minutes this morning.

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