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Published: January 12th 2008
With only one day left in Pokhara before returning to Kathmandu and with the only place still left that I really wanted to visit locally was the Bahari Temple on a small island in the middle of Phewa Tal, I set out after filling up on a lunch at my favourite little Italian restaurant.
I thought it would a be lovely quiet place to spend my last day in Pokhara, how better than to be sat in a small island in the middle of the lake contemplating the last few days trekking and the lovely time spent in Pokhara. Little did I know that it would be me and a thousand other people! As it was the last few days of Dasain, hordes of Hindus descended on the little island in boats floating dangerously close the water overloaded with worshippers. The scene was more like the bustle of a busy Sunday market with row after row of worshippers waiting patiently and not so patiently on the banks for a boat to take them across.
So the island was far from the sedate haven that I had planned on visiting with a heaving throng of people and Saddhus and the
noise of their talk was punctuated by the constant ringing of the temple bells but in many ways it was better than expected as I was enveloped in the excitement and culture. It was amazing just to sit and watch the worshippers queuing in long snake trails proudly holding their offering bowls full of flowers, tikka and incense and rice waiting patiently for their turn to circumnavigate the temple ringing the bells hanging like bunches of grapes before heading to the many waiting Saddhus to give handfuls of rice.
I was virtually the only westerner on the island and became the novelty as groups of people came up and asked for a photo with me. I felt like a Movie star or something and guess it was a role reversal from me taking photos of them and several photos later it was becoming a touch embarrassing. The group of students asking for photos was soon followed by kids wanting to see photos of themselves and after spending a long time with one little gang their mother came across and gave be a tikka mark, which was a lovely gesture and which I proudly showed as I walked around the
little island throwing handfuls of seeds to the very fat and happy looking fish in the shallows.
And as the sun began to set I joined the people and Saddhus leaving the island and took one final walk down the High Street listening to chants of Om Mani Padme Hum from the music shops and side stepping the ever present Holy Cows.
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