What is Makar Mela?
The Makar Mela is one of the most anticipated festivals in Panauti, Nepal. The month-long festival, celebrated once every 12 years, sees thousands of devotees flock from all over Nepal and India.
About Makar Mela
The Makar Mela lore follows a mythology where it is believed that Lord Indra, King of the Heaven, was suffering from an incurable disease. After 12 years of Meditation at the Triveni Ghat in Panauti to please Lord Shiva, Gokarnath himself came to the aid and mixed a nectar of the cure in Rudrawati. The disease was cured when Indra took a bath in the river with the nectar flowing in it. Since then it is believed that the nectar flows in the river every 12 years and taking a bath in the river during this time cures diseases.
How is it Celebrated
The Festival is exclusively celebrated in Panauti for a month at Triveni Ghat, on the confluence of Punyamati, Roshi and Rudrawati (the invisible river). Makar Mela starts when the sun enters into Makar rashi on the day of Makar Sankranti. This is the first day in the month of Magh, mid January – mid February, in the Bikram Sambat calendar. It is believed that taking a dip at the river cures skin diseases and purifies one’s sins. After taking a bath, the devotees hike up to the Gorakhnath hill to pay homage to Basuki Naag and Lord Shiva. The naag is said to be the protractor of Panauti.
Best way to Celebrate Makar Mela
Panauti is a small town that retains much of its charm and reflects a much more relaxed pace of life. With many heritage sites and lush green hills surrounding Panauti, there is a lot it has to offer travellers. One of the best ways to celebrate the festival and discover Panauti is to stay with locals. The Panauti community homestay offers a homely setting for travellers without having to relinquish all modern comforts.
Living with the locals not only gives you an opportunity to observe the festival but also get hands-on experiences with different activities. The warm hospitality and mesmerizing interactions is sure to give you a memorable experience.
How to get to Panauti
Panauti is around 34 kilometer from Kathmandu. You have to take the Ariniko Highway from Kathmandu to Banepa. On reaching Banepa, the road to Panauti diverts right from the Tribhuvan Chowk. The Panauti road is about 7.5 km from Banepa and has been recently black topped.
Alternatively, you can also take a local bus from Kathmandu to Panauti which takes about 2 hours depending on the traffic.