Tal Barahi Temple

Tal Barahi Temple
Photo by Arindra Dey Arni / Unsplash

Location

Introduction

Tal Barahi Temple, also known as the Lake Temple or Barahi Temple, is a Hindu shrine devoted to the goddess Durga in her form as Barahi, the protector of gods. The term "Tal" denotes "lake," while "Barahi" represents the boar, symbolizing strength or Shakti. Situated on a small island in the southeastern part of Phewa Lake in Pokhara, the temple attracts both Hindu and Buddhist worshippers. Thousands of residents from Pokhara pay homage to Goddess Barahi, particularly during Durga Puja and on Saturdays. Unique in Nepal, this temple is entirely constructed within the lake without any land connections.

History and Architecture

Legend has it that beneath Phewa Lake lies the submerged city of Phewa. According to the story, an elderly woman, actually a disguised goddess, wandered into the city seeking food. Only an elderly couple welcomed her to join their meal consisting of boiled rice and veggies in one of the poor dwellings. Unbeknownst to the city's residents, she warned the elderly couple to flee to a nearby hilltop to escape an impending disaster. The couple heeded her advice and witnessed their city being destroyed by a catastrophic flood, sparing themselves. In gratitude, they built the Barahi temple on the hilltop where they sought refuge.

The Tal Barahi temple is a modest yet significant two-story pagoda-style temple situated on an island in the middle of Phewa Lake. The temple's “Gajur (pinnacle)” is adorned with gold, while the rest of the structure is constructed from stones with a thatched roof. Inside, the main shrine follows traditional pagoda architecture, using wood, bricks, and stone. The temple grounds can accommodate a large number of devotees and visitors. It is highly recommended to visit the temple by sailing to the island and exploring its surroundings.The deity worshiped at the temple is Goddess Durga, depicted with a boar's head and a human body, symbolizing the manifestation of Ajima, the representation of Shakti's force. Legend describes Goddess Durga as using her tusks to vanquish enemies and end evil, while holding a cup and a fish in her hands. Originally, the temple was a small mud hut with a thatched roof and a tiny door. It was renovated into its current majestic form in 2017 B.S. by Late King Mahendra. To reach the main temple, visitors must descend a flight of stairs. The temple's exterior features a 5-foot-tall pinnacle, carved windows, a round “Toran (Archway)” and 32 “Tudals (wood that supports the roof of the temple)”. A priest conducts daily rituals using various worship items. The temple is a popular venue for marriages and Bratabandha ceremonies, held on auspicious days from November to July.

How to get there?

To reach the temple, visitors must take a small or larger boat from Phewa Ghat for a 5-minute journey, with a round trip costing around Rs. 100. The price of a private paddle boat is approximately Rs. 1500 for an hour. The exact price can be obtained at the ticket counter. A life jacket can be rented from the ticket office for Rs. 20-30. After crossing to the island, most people stay for 30 minutes, but longer stays are possible with an additional fee. Kayaking is also a recommended option, and visitors can continue their journey to the Peace Pagoda on the other side of the lake after visiting Barahi Temple. The temple opens from 5:30 am to 5:30 pm everyday. 

Things to do

Visitors can enjoy a boat ride around the temple and participate in prayers. On clear days, Mount Machhapuchhre can be seen while boarding the boat to the temple. In the evening, a beautiful Aarati procession dedicated to the Barahi Goddess takes place on the bank of Fewa Lake. Those visiting the Tal Barahi temple have the option of taking a longer tour of the entire Phewa Lake, which is 4 km long and 1.5 km wide. Kayaking is an excellent way to explore the lake, despite being a bit pricey. Near Phewa Lake, there is a fish farm that visitors can explore. Combining a visit to Tal Barahi with a hike to the World Peace Pagoda is a worthwhile experience. Walking along Lakeside or Foottrack, enjoying good food, experiencing nature, purchasing souvenirs, or even heading to Pame for some quality time are all enjoyable activities for visitors.

Conclusion

Phewa Lake, Nepal's second-largest lake, is a popular tourist destination that attracts both domestic and international travelers. The Annapurna region, one of the world's most renowned trekking destinations, typically begins in Pokhara. Many visitors also enjoy exploring Pokhara and its unique offerings before or after embarking on a trekking adventure. The Barahi Temple is a must-visit for both spiritual seekers and those interested in cultural heritage. Spiritual individuals can fulfill their spiritual needs by offering prayers to Devi and immersing themselves in Nepali culture, art, and architecture. The Tal Barahi Temple not only provides a safe haven for pilgrims but also appeals to heritage and nature enthusiasts. Travelers and pilgrims from around the globe are drawn to Tal Barahi's serene surroundings. The temple's location offers a breathtaking view of the Machhapuchhre and Annapurna mountains, which are reflected in the lake, enhancing its natural beauty. Lakeside is another popular destination, offering a tranquil view of Phewa Lake's crystal-clear waters, which are mesmerizing whether day or night. If you have an interest in Hindu mythology and pristine lakes, a visit to the Tal Barahi Temple is highly recommended. Even if these are not your usual interests, you can still enjoy spending time feeding the aquatic life that inhabits the area.