The sheltered, southwest-facing side-valley of Bishanku is one of the Kathmandu Valley’s most idyllic and unspoilt corners. In a notch in the partly forested ridge on the far northwest side, the shrine of Bishanku Narayan overlooks the paddy and mustard fields that line the valley floor. One of the valley’s four main Narayan (Vishnu) sites, Bishanku is not a temple – rather, it’s a small cave reached by a set of precarious steps. A chain-mail curtain protects the god’s image inside the cave. If you’re thin enough, you can descend through another narrow fissure; according to popular belief, those who manage to squeeze through it will be absolved of past sins.

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