The temple of Manakamana, a very popular pilgrimage in Nepal, is a temple of one of the manifestations of the Hindu goddess Bhagwati. Bhagwati is believed to have the power to fulfill wishes. It lies 125 km to the west of Kathmandu. It is a steep three hour hike from Abu Khairenii on Kathmandu-Gorkha Highway. Cable-cars also take travelers to Manakamana.
The legend of Manakamana Goddess goes back to the time of the Gorkha king Ram shah (1614-1636 AD). His queen, the story goes, possessed divine powers known only to her devotee and religious preceptor, Lakhan Thapa. On one occasion, the king chanced upon the revelation of his queen as goddess and Lakhan as a lion. But as soon as he told the Queen what he saw, death took him. When the Queen approached the funeral pyre to commit sati as was the custom back then, she consoled the lamenting Lakhan by saying that she would reappear soon near his home. Six months later, a certain farmer ploughing a field hit a stone, cleaved it and saw blood and milk flow forth. When the news got around to Lakhan, he knew that his wish had come true. The flow ceased when Lakhan worshipped the stone using his tantric knowledge. When the then ruling king of Gorkha learnt of the incident, he donated land and a grant to perpetuate the worship of Manakamana.
This deed was invested with a Lal Mohar, and the present Thapa-Mangar pujari is the 17th generation descendant of Lakhan Thapa. The shrine of Manakamana has been renovated many times over the centuries. The present four-story temple on a square pedestal has pagoda -style roofs, and the entrance is marked by one stone which is the sacrificial pillar. The Thapa-Mangar priest performs rituals behind closed doors by offering egg, orange, rice, vermillion and strips of cloth to the Goddess, only after the pujari is done with his puja, that the public’s turn comes.