Chobar is a place in Kathmandu District, which is believed to be the Birthplace of Kathmandu Valley according to ancient stories, myths, and rumors.
Our story begins thousands of years ago, back when the valley was a huge, sparkling lake. The abundant land was tightly guarded by Nagas, serpent deities, who were hiding beneath its emerald depths. However, a desire for life blossomed within the vast area covered in lotuses. Manjushree, the wise Bodhisattva, appears with his sword blazing with heavenly fire.
With the powerful rays of the lotus as her guide, Manjushree set out to empty the lake so that life could exist there. He split the southern rim in two with a powerful blow to his blade, creating the Chobhar Gorge. Water gushed out, sculpting the Bagmati River and exposing the now-famous Kathmandu Valley.
Hindus view this as evidence of Manjushree’s kindness, a holy act that gave rise to civilization. The chants of pilgrims who gather at Chobar are echoed by the Swayambhu Purana, which sings of this creation. On sacred days, people pay respect to Manjushree with burning incense, crimson tilak decorating on their foreheads, and prayers rising like smoke from incense.
Buddhists also incorporate elements of admiration into Chobar’s stories. Manjushree is viewed by them as Vajrasattva, the definition of purity. The falling waters represent the purifying current of wisdom that clears the path to enlightenment and wipes away ignorance. Monks seek the peace and wisdom that Manjushree symbolizes by meditating in secret caves close to the gorge while repeating traditional mantras that dance in the wind.
Chobar’s tale is not only years old, but it is still vibrant today. During Indra Jatra, the valley bursts into a chaotic symphony of color every year. Drums beat, masked deities strut, and the energy bursts into the night sky. We see a reflection of the essential beating that gave rise to the valley in this colorful chaos, a celebration of life nourished by Manjushree’s offering.
Hidden at the mouth of the gorge, the Jal Binayak Temple speaks of another aspect of Chobar’s soul. Buddhists refer to him as Vinayaka, the remover of negativity, while Hindus worship him as Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. Devotees gather at his shrine on auspicious occasions, asking for blessings for success, fresh starts, and the removal of obstacles in their way.
Beyond the deities and rituals, Chobar’s magic lies in its everyday life. Farmers till the land, nurtured by the waters Manjushree released. Children paint rangolis on temple floors, vibrant stories unfolding with each dot of color. Elders whisper tales of the Nagas, keeping the past alive in the present.
However, the Chobhar caves are where Chobar’s soul rests. These historic grottos hold mysteries from the past that are revealed to adventurous travelers after they are sculpted by time. Their walls carry Buddhist murals, traces of past meditation retreats. Hindu gods emerge from hidden corners, remains of past devotion. Silent experience of the common past that brings together Chobar’s faiths, is an involvement of faiths.
Not only are you in Chobar, but you are part of its story as you stand on the peak overlooking the valley and feel the wind carrying the whispers of time. The rich pulse of celebration, the weight of old myths, and the echo of monks chanting are all visible. You observe the land provided by Manjushree, the gods’ legacy, and the constant determination of a people shaped by myth and faith.
More than a village, more than a story, this is Chobar. It’s a place where religion dances with daily life and myths mix with modernity, a living testament to the transformative power of belief. It serves as a reminder that despite the valley’s busyness, magic still whispers in the breeze, inviting you to enter an alternate world where stories blossom like lotus flowers on an ancient lake and time stands still.