Just about every Nepali has either been to MANAKAMANA or hopes one day to go. Located on a prominent ridge high above the confluence of the Trisuli and Marsyangdi rivers, the village is home to Nepal’s famous wish-granting temple. Each year more than half a million people make the journey, the wealthier of them speeding up the hillside with a bird’s-eye view from the swish cable car. Sadhus, poorer pilgrims and the odd, more contemplative tourist still toil up the walking route on the other side of the hill, starting from Abu Khaireni. If you’re here in the November and December season, be sure to buy the famous local oranges. Their green skins are not a sign of unripeness, but entirely natural in the subtropics: oranges need almost frosty temperatures to acquire the colour that northerners are used to.
In addition to its temple, Manakamana is also famous for its mountain views: from various high points around the village you can see a limited panorama from Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal across to Peak 29 and Baudha of the Manaslu Himal. The nearest viewpoint is the new bus park, a fifteen-minute walk up from the temple. If you’re game for more, you can continue 45 minutes further up the ridge to another temple, the Bakeshwar Mahadev Mandir, and then another fifteen minutes to Lakhan Thapa Gupha, a holy cave near the highest point, from where the views are tremendous on clear mornings. The cave is named after the founder of the Manakamana temple, a seventeenth-century royal priest whose descendant is still the chief temple pujari today.