When the first light of dawn hit the horizon, painting the sky with deep pink, shades of blue and yellow, we realized that, if we were to capture the sunrise, we cannot afford to spend more time on the way. I packed my camera gears in no time and we were almost running. We were about 45 minutes away from making it to the top of Pathibhara.
So far, I had struggled to climb the steep steps and trail leading to the temple and a few sessions of long exposure night photography, here and there, were my excuses to catch my breath, and pretend that I am a strong man with a big interest in trekking in the mountains.
But now that I were cornered, I had no option other than keeping the pace with my partner Ganesh Basnet—District Coordinator for One Heart Worldwide in Taplejung—who was at home amid these mountains.
“Wearing socks over shoes reduce the likelihood of slipping on snowy steeps,” shouted Ganesh with some irritatation, and smirk on his face, reckoning that I was struggling to keep up with his pace and was clinging on anything that I could get my hands on.
Though I was very skeptical about it in the beginning, despite Ganesh explaining me that is how people trekked when it was ‘icy slippery around here,’ I admired the cleverness of it after giving it a shot. Not only I was confidently stable, I was even running like I have forgotten everything and enjoying the crushing sounds of snow-crust under my feet.
It was as if we were walking beside the snow rails—the bundle of strings that devotees tie from Sano Pathibhara, a miniature temple devoted to the people who cannot make it to the main temple due to different health conditions like altitude sickness, had gathered thick snowflakes and looked like some kind of structure.
I was completely out of breath by the time we reached the gate of Pathibhara temple. But soon I gave in and surrendered to the spectacular sight of the place. As the mountains were slowly coming to life with the breaking of the dawn, I was awestruck by the grandeur of the Himalayas, standing tall and embracing us as if we were their children.
There are hundreds of bells, offered by the devotees, hanging from the metal railings on both sides along the final climb leading to the premises of the Pathibhara temple. No matter your belief on the religion, there is something aesthetically sacred, spiritual and liberating about this place.
I have never such an ocean of cirrus clouds blanketing the valley below. It was one such mesmerizing sight that remains etched in your memory but cannot be described in words. As the sun rose from behind the mountains, my heart leaped up realizing how lucky I was beholding such sight.
Pathibhara is certainly one of the most beautiful places in Nepal, if not the best, that offers the best panoramic view of the Himalayas. The unforgettable experience was worth all the trouble after our decision to leave for the temple at three in the morning to see the sunrise.
The main statue of goddess Pathibhara, all covered in vermilion, prayer flags and offerings made by the devotees, people even offer gold and silver jewelries for fulfillment of their wishes from the goddess, lies in the open. There is a dedicated pagoda-style house where animals are sacrificed to the goddess and big ritualistic-worships are organized.
Though we visited Pathibhara in the second week of March this year, we were lucky that it had snowed a day early. It was unexpectedly cold for the month. Our cell phones died instantly.
How to get there
I flew to Biratnagar, before hopping on a public jeep to Taplejung headquarter Phungling. It took us around two and half hours from there to reach Sano Phedi, the first stop of the trek, on a motorcycle. The ride on this stone and mud remote road was unquestionably difficult. It was almost six in the evening when we reached Sano Phedi.
We trekked for almost an hour to reach Thulo Phedi, where we called it a day. We stayed inside a tent on the hotel’s courtyard—which was very comfortable. It takes around three hours of steep trek to reach the top of Pathibhara and, from my experience, everyone should start early to strive to behold the amazing sunrise.
Video- Krishna Dangi