Peeking a Devi’s Fall at Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave

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Horn sound made me see to left when I just walked out of a noodle food stall in Tashiling. Yes, that shrill sound came from Mr. Tirtha’s taxi which I never knew since when it had been parked under a tree right out of Tashiling area.

I think we don’t need to go to Devi’s Fall because its water discharge is low now. So you can see the beauty of Devi’s Fall from a cave”, said Mr. Tirtha while turning steering wheel to left and entered Shital Path Street. I just agreed with that information.

Devi’s Fall often had been nicknamed as David’s Fall since decades ago when a Swiss drowned in current at this waterfall.

OK …. We are arriving“, joked Mr. Tirtha while snapping her fingers when he had just turned right following Siddhartha Rajmag’s Street flow.

I started to enter the gate of Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, which at its top stood the dashing Lord Shiva holding his trident in cross-legged position. Through it, then walking in tarpaulin-covered entrance route with a row of souvenir stalls on either side. Then I was greeted by the presence of Lord Vishnu statue which sleeping next to the main building.

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Main balcony.

It was time to head to a concrete balcony to bought a ticket for 100 Rupee. Before descending the stairs to cave mouth, for a moment I paid attention to details of staircase walls which were regularly spaced displaying Gods carvings which might implicitly feature a certain stories.

Stairs to cave mouth.

Temperature difference had begun to be felt on first foothold at cave mouth. Now I was ready to explore the longest cave in Nepal.

Cow Shed“, I was stunned to see a cow shed with blue iron fence. I asked a local person who was talking in front of it. He briefly said that this cow protected Lord Shiva. I nodded as if I understood.

Going down the stairs through right side of cage I felt my breath getting heavier. The damp dark cramped space made it so. Then I saw a bright light again at a temple which dedicated to glorifying Lord Shiva.

It was said that this cave was found in 16th century with cave mouth closed by grass. Local people named this cave as Bhalu Dulo. When found, there were already carvings of several Hindu Gods such as Mahadev, Parvati, Nageshwor and Saraswati.

Now stairs to cave bottom were getting sharper and slippery. Water continued to drip from stalactites which were spread evenly on cave roof. The lack of lighting made my downward journey very slow.

Be careful, ok…..

Finally, the appearance of cave bottom was amazing. A very large room was in basement. Then on a side appeared a natural gap which was the only hole to enjoy the beauty of Devi’s Fall.

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That was Devi’s Fall…. Wasn’t that cool ?.

Check out the situation of Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave here:

God’s extraordinary work of nature….

A Bowl of Noodle in Tashiling Tibetan Refugee Camp

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I already understood before Mr. Tirtha told me that my next destination was Tashiling, A Tibetan refugee settlement in Pokhara. Nepal itself provided access to this migration because since ancient times, Tibet and Nepal have had close close relations in economy, diplomacy and culture. They have repeatedly signed various cooperation agreements in their history as two mutually sovereign nations.

Departing from International Mountain Museum, my taxi drove towards east and it was about 3.5 km in distance. This time Mr. Tirtha who changed to interrupt the trip, he stopped at a pharmacy to buy a some drugs. He steadfastly said that his father had a liver problem which required him to set aside his income from driving a taxi for his father’s treatment.

Namaska“, he shouted at his friends on the street. He explained a little to me that Namaska ​​was a greeting similar to “Namaste“.

Then, he emphasized that tourism was like a gold for his country. So many people in his age struggled to have a small car and fuctioned as a taxi. And English was the key for them to attract tourists …. “Sorry Mr Tirtha, if in Jakarta, I prefer to be a salesman with a commission” …..Hahaha, he broadly laughed.

15 minutes later, the taxi exited from Siddhartha Rajmarg main road. Stop on a dirt road. “Welcome to Tashiling“, said Mr. Tirtha.

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The view of Tashiling from dropping point.

My steps were immediately drawn to a row of souvenir stalls. Yesss…. That was where Tibetan people earn money to survive in their refugee camps. On the way home, Mr. Tirtha regretted Tibetan migration because China has paid more attention to Tibet welfare now.

A man who was so friendly explained some various meanings of  merchandises.

Entering this 56 year old village, I could get a peek at a little Tibetan culture. The way they dress and worship was an easy thing to grasp during this brief visitation. The hospitality of the tiny residents with brown skin and slanted eyes became something unforgettable. According to a confession from one of them, there were about 700 Tibetan refugees in this village. Even in the early days of their migration, there were about 2,000 residents.

Tashiling itself was only one of 12 refugee camps across Nepal. It was well known since Dalai Lama resistance, many Tibetans migrated to Nepal on 1959-1961.

Satisfied in seeing Tashiling’s face, I took time to sit at their small restaurant. I ordered a bowl of noodles for lunch. Simple menu for 150 Rupee which made me ready to continue the journey to next destination.

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It was delicious….Was there pork oil in?….Hahaha.

Come on, go to next destination….

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7 Tourist Attractions in Pokhara

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Visiting Nepal is synonymous with visiting the Himalayas. And all travelers know that the Himalayan gate is in Pokhara. It has been a long time since this city, nicknamed as “Gem of Himalaya”, has opened itself to show its beauty around the world.

This had put Pokhara on the top list in my visitation to South Asia region. Not Kathmandu, but Nepal’s second largest city which is located in northwest valley of Pokhara, this was what made me hurry for a moment to leave the capital city of Nepal even though it had only been arrive a day before.

Out of context as a solo-male traveler, I firmly believe that Pokhara is one of the best solo travel destinations for female travelers also.

Here were seven tourist attractions which I visited in Pokhara:

1 Sarangkot.

Being the closest vantage point to enjoy the Himalayas had placed Sarangkot as a special place to visit for travelers who didn’t have much time to hike that famous mountains.

Early arriving in the morning and sat at the viewpoint ahead of dawn. Enjoying colors gradation which hit ice layer at Machhapuchhare peak. Undoubtedly the golden color would fascinate you.

2. Bindhyabasini Temple

Descending from Sarangkot with its background of iconic Phewa Lake, I immediately headed to a Hindu temple where the Goddess Bhagwati worshiped, which was 7 km east of Sarangkot. Exactly at 08:14 hours. the temple was already so busy with visitors and also congregants who had come to pray.

Temple location which was on a hill made me freely gaze in observing dense residential housing with Himalayas background which turn blue with white ice at its peak.

3. Old Bazaar/Purano Bazaar

Now I was moving about 2 km southward down the road to a commercial place which dated back to the 18th century. The market was dominated by Newar architecture with red brick motifs with a lane which was only enough for two vehicles passing each other.

9:15 am….It was too early for Pokhara people to trade. As far as the eye could see, my memory was spoiled with market streets view which were flanked by classic buildings on either side of road, then at the end of road, there were dammed with Himalayas face whose timeless beauty.

Because the market was so quiet, no one bothered me in enjoying Jalebi in the middle of street.

4. International Mountain Museum

After returning to hotel for breakfast. Then, I continued visiting a museum which was dedicated to Himalayan climbers who never again safely descended.

By paying 450 Rupee, I was treated to a gallery which displayed a photos series of snowy peaks around the world which was followed by the peculiarities of various ethnic Nepalese inhabitants, then closed with several heroic stories of Himalayan climbers.

5. Tashiling Tibetan Refugee Camp.

For those who haven’t had a chance to visiting Tibet, then feel its nuance by visiting Tibetan people in Tashiling. This village was inhabited by Tibetan refugees who migrated because of political intrigue.

They made a living by trading in their new home. Many travelers shopped for souvenirs at this place. I myself took time to lunch with a bowl of noodles for 150 Rupee at one of their food stall.

6. Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave.

Located near from Tashiling, the cave which was located right on a side of Siddhartha Rajmarg road, its ticket fare about 100 Rupee. Circling down the stairs in red main building, I came to the mouth of this cave. Continuing along the curves of narrow humid alleys which lead to the main cave room with a view of swift waterfall which was peeking out from longitudinal slit on a side….Very beautiful.

7. World Peace Pagoda

Late in the afternoon, I arrived at my final destination. By another name, Shanti Stupa, this pure white pagoda was a painstaking climb on Anadu Hill. A Japanese heritage site of worship symbolized peace which uphold silence. Not allowing a slightest noise was a norm which must be obeyed during a visitation.

A natural decoration in the form of Himalayas with the ground of Phewa Lake in a view side became even more perfect with appearance of Pokhara City which was seen from above.

So, if you visit Pokhara, make sure to visit these cool places.

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Mengintip Devi’s Fall di Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave

Bunyi klakson membuatku menoleh ke kiri ketika baru saja beranjak keluar dari sebuah kedai mie di Tashiling. Ya, suara cempreng itu berasal dari taksi Mr. Tirtha yang entah sejak kapan sudah terparkir di bawah sebuah pohon tepat di arah keluar area Tashiling.

I think we don’t need to go to Devi’s Fall because its water debit is low now. So you can see the beauty of Devi’s Fall from the cave”, tutur Mr. Tirtha sembari memutar setirnya ke kiri memasuki jalan Shital Path. Aku mengiyakan saja informasi itu.

Devi’s Fall sering dijuluk David’s Fall sejak berpuluh-puluh tahun lalu ketika seorang Swiss tenggelam termakan arus di air terjun ini.

OK….We are arriving”, seloroh Mr. Tirtha sambil menjentikkan jari ketika baru saja berbelok ke kanan mengikuti arus jalanan Siddhartha Rajmag.

Aku mulai memasuki gapura Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave yang di puncaknya didudukkan Dewa Siwa yang gagah bersila menggenggam trisula. Melewatinya, untuk kemudian menelusuri jalur masuk beratap terpal dengan deretan kios souvenir di kiri-kanan. Kemudian aku disambut dengan kehadiran patung Dewa Wisnu yang tertidur di sebelah bangunan utama.

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Balkon utama.

Saatnya menuju ke bagian balkon beton untuk membeli selembar tiket seharga Rp. 13.500. Sebelum menuruni tangga menuju mulut goa, sejenak aku memperhatikan detail dinding tangga yang dengan jarak teratur menampilkan pahatan Dewa-Dewi yang mungkin secara implisit menampilkan sebuah lakon tertentu.

Tangga menuju mulut goa.

Perbedaan suhu sudah mulai terasa pada pijakan pertama di mulut goa. Kini aku bersiap menelusuri goa terpanjang di Nepal.

Cow Shed”, aku tertegun memperhatikan sebuah kandang sapi berpagar besi biru. Bertanyalah aku kepada orang lokal yang sedang berbincang di depannya. Katanya singkat bahwa sapi ini melindungi Dewa Siwa. Aku mengangguk seakan faham.

Menuruni tangga melalui sisi kanan kandang aku merasa tarikan nafas semakin berat. Ruang sempit gelap lembab membuatnya demikian. Kemudian cahaya terang kembali kujumpai pada sebuah kuil yang didedikasikan untuk memuliakan Dewa Siwa.

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Dasar Donny….Kamu mencuri gambar….Kan “No Camera”….Parah.

Konon goa ini ditemukan pada abad ke-16 dengan kondisi mulut goa tertutup rerumputan. Orang lokal menamai goa ini Bhalu Dulo. Ketika ditemukan, sudah terdapat ukiran beberapa Dewa Dewi Hindu seperti Mahadev, Parvati, Nageshwor dan Saraswati.

Kini tangga menuju ka dasar goa semakin tajam dan licin. Air terus menetes dari stalagtit yang terhampar merata di atap goa. Sedikitnya lampu penerangan membuat perjalanan ke bawah menjadi sangat pelan.

Hati-hati ya…..

Akhirnya penampakan dasar goa terpampang menakjubkan. Ruangan yang sangat luas berada di bawah tanah. Kemudian di salah satu sisi tertampil sebuah celah alami yang menjadi satu-satunya lubang untuk menikmati keindahan Devi’s Fall.

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Itu Devi’s Fall….Keren kan ya?.

Lihat situasi Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave disini:

Karya alam milik Tuhan yang luar biasa….

Semangkuk Mie di Tashiling Tibetan Refugee Camp

Aku sudah faham sebelum Mr. Tirtha memberitahuku bahwa destinasi berikutnya adalah Tashiling, pemukiman para pengungsi Tibet di Pokhara. Nepal sendiri memberikan akses migrasi ini karena sejak zaman dahulu, Tibet dan Nepal telah memiliki hubungan kerjasama yang erat dalam bidang ekonomi, diplomasi dan budaya. Kedua belah pihak pernah berulangkali dalam sejarah menandatangi berbagai perjanjian kerjasama sebagai dua bangsa yang saling berdaulat.

Bertolak dari International Mountain Museum, taksi kini merapat ke timur dan berlari sejauh 3,5 km. Kali ini Mr. Tirtha yang berganti menginterupsi perjalanan, dia berhenti di sebuah apotek untuk membeli seracik obat. Dia bertutur dengan tabah, bahwa ayah kandungnya mengalami gangguan liver yang mengharuskannya menyisihkan penghasilan dari menyopir taksi untuk pengobatan sang ayah.

Namaska”, teriaknya pada teman-teman seprofesinya di jalanan. Dia sedikit menjelaskan bahwa Namaska adalah sapaan yang mirip dengan “Namaste”. 

Kemudian, dia menegaskan bahwa pariwisata bak emas buat negaranya. Jadi banyak orang seusianya berjuang memiliki sebuah mobil kecil untuk dipekerjakan menjadi sebuah taksi. Dan english adalah kunci bagi mereka untuk menggaet wisatawan….”Maaf Mr Tirtha, kalau di Jakarta, aku lebih memilih menjadi salesman dengan komisinya”….Hahaha, dia tertawa lebar.

15 menit kemudian, taksi keluar dari jalan utama Siddhartha Rajmarg. Berhenti di sebuah jalanan tanah. “Welcome to Tashiling”, Ucap Mr. Tirtha.

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Pemandangan Tashiling dari dropping point.

Langkahku langsung tertuju pada deretan kios penjual souvenir. Yesss….Disitulah para Tibetan mengais rezeqi untuk menyambung hidup di pengungsian. Dalam perjalanan pulang nanti, Mr. Tirtha menyayangkan para Tibetan yang bermigrasi ini karena saat ini Tiongkok sudah lebih memperhatikan kesejahteraan Tibet.

Si bapak yang begitu ramah menjelaskan berbagai makna dari barang dagangannya.

Memasuki perkampungan berusia 56 tahun ini, aku bisa mengintip sedikit budaya Tibet. Cara mereka berpakaian dan beribadah adalah hal yang gampang ditangkap dalam kunjungan singkat ini. Keramahan penduduk berbadan mungil dengan kulit sawo matang dan bermata sipit menjadi sesuatu yang tak terlupakan. Menurut pengakuan dari salah satu mereka, ada sekitar 700 pengungsi Tibet di kampung ini. Bahkan di masa-masa awal pengungsian terdapat hampir 2.000 warga.

Tashiling sendiri hanya merupakan salah satu dari 12 kamp pengungsian di seluruh penjuru Nepal. Seperti diketahui bahwa semenjak perlawanan Dalai Lama, banyak warga Tibet yang bermigrasi ke Nepal pada tahun 1959-1961.

Puas melihat muka Tashiling, aku menyempatkan diri untuk duduk di sebuah kedai makan milik mereka. Kupesan semangkuk mie sebagai menu makan siang. Menu sederhana seharga RP. 20.000 yang membuatku siap untuk melanjutkan perjalanan ke destinasi berikutnya.

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Enak euy….Ada minyak babinya engga ya?….Hahaha.

Yuk, jalan lageeeeeeh….

7 Destinasi Wisata di Pokhara

Mengunjungi Nepal identik dengan mengunjungi Himalaya. Dan seluruh pelancong tahu bahwa gerbang Himalaya itu ada di Pokhara. Sudah lama kota berjuluk “Permata Himalaya” ini membuka diri untuk mempertontonkan keelokannya ke penjuru dunia.

Hal inilah yang menempatkan Pokhara menjadi top list dalam kunjunganku di kawasan Asia Selatan. Bukan Kathmandu, tapi kota terbesar kedua Nepal yang terletak di barat laut lembah Pokhara inilah yang membuatku bergegas sejenak meninggalkan ibukota Nepal walaupun baru sehari tiba.

Berikut tujuh destinasi wisata yang kukunjungi di Pokhara:

1 Sarangkot.

Menjadi titik pandang terdekat untuk menikmati pegunungan Himalaya menempatkan Sarangkot sebagai gtempat istimewa untuk dikunjungi para pelancong yang tak memiliki banyak waktu untuk mendaki pegunungan tersohor itu.

Datanglah di awal pagi  dan duduklah di viewpoint mendahului fajar. Nikmati gradasi warna yang menyiram lapisan es di puncak Machhapuchhare. Niscaya warna keemasannya akan membuatmu terpesona.

2. Bindhyabasini Temple

Menuruni Sarangkot berlatar Phewa Lake yang ikonik, aku segera menuju ke sebuah kuil Hindu tempat pemujaan Dewi Bhagwati yang terletak 7 km di sebelah timur Sarangkot. Tepat jam 08:14 kuil sudah begitu ramai dengan lalu lalang pelawat dan juga jemaat yang datang untuk bersembahyang.

Letak kuil yang berada di sebuah bukit membuatku dengan leluasa memandangi rapatnya perumahan penduduk yang berlatar pegunungan Himalaya yang membiru dengan warna putih di puncaknya.

3. Old Bazaar/Purano Bazaar

Kini aku bergerak 2 km ke arah selatan menuruni jalanan menuju sebuah tempat perniagaan yang sudah ada sejak abad ke-18. Pasar dengan dominasi arsitekur Newar bermotif bata merah dengan belahan jalur yang hanya cukup bagi dua kendaraan yang saling berpapasan.

Pukul 09:15…Masih terlalu pagi buat masyarakat Pokhara untuk berdagang. Sejauh mata memandang, memoriku dimanjakan dengan pemandangan jalanan pasar yang dihapit oleh bangunan klasik di kiri- kanan kemudia di ujung jalan sana dibendung dengan wajah Himalaya yang keelokannya abadi.

Saking lengangnya pasar, menikmati Jalebi di tengah jalanan pasar pun tak ada yang mengganggu.

4. International Mountain Museum

Sekembali dari hotel untuk menyantap sarapan. Kemudian, aku melanjutkan bertamu ke sebuah museum yang didedikasikan bagi para pendaki Himalaya yang tak pernah lagi turun dengan selamat.

Dengan membayar Rp. 55.000, aku disuguhi galeri yang menampilkan sederet foto puncak bersalju di seantero dunia disusul dengan kekhasan berbagai etnis penghuni Nepal, kemudian ditutup dengan beberapa kisah heroik para pendaki Himalaya.

5. Tashiling Tibetan Refugee Camp.

Bagi yang belum sempat mengunjugi Tibet, maka rasakan nuansanya dengan mengunjungi para Tibetan di Tashiling. Perkampungan ini ditinggali oleh pengungsi Tibet yang bermigrasi karena intrik politik.

Mereka menyambung hidup dengan cara berdagang di tempat tinggalnya yang baru. Banyak para pelancong yang berbelanja souvenir di tempat ini. Aku sendiri menyempatkan menyantap makan siang dengan menu semangkuk mie seharga Rp. 20.000 di salah satu kedai makan milik mereka.

6. Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave.

Berjarak selemparan batu dari Tashi Ling, goa yang terletak persis di tepian jalan Siddhartha Rajmarg ini berbiaya masuk Rp. 14.000. Melingkar menuruni tangga dengan bangunan utama berwarna merah, aku sampai pada mulut goa. Berlanjut menyusuri liukan lorong-lorong sempit nan lembab yang berujung pada ruangan utama gua dengan pemandangan derasnya air terjun yang terintip dari guratan celah memanjang di salah satu sisi….Indah sekali.

7. World Peace Pagoda

Menjelang sore, aku tiba di destinasi terakhirku. Dengan nama lain Shanti Stupa, pagoda putih bersih ini harus ditanjaki dengan susah payah di Bukit Anadu. Sebuag situs peribadatan peninggalan jepang perlambang perdamaian yang menjunjung kesunyian. Tak diperkenankan berisik sedikitpun adalah norma yang harus ditaati selama berkunjung.

Hiasan alam berupa Pegunungan Himalaya beralas Phewa Lake dalam satu sisi pandang menjadi semakin sempurna dengan penampakan kota Pokhara bak maket terlihat dari atas.

Jadi, jika kamu berkunjung ke Pokhara pastikan mengunjungi tempat-tempat keren ini ya.