NAGDAHA: A Visit to the Snake Lake

In the days of yore Lord Shiva used to reside at Nagdaha. The Goddess Bajrabarahi was worried. She thought if Lord Shiva stays in Nagdaha no one will worship her. (textCopyright at Nepal tours) Using her divine powers she transformed herself into a pig and started making grunting noises. Pigs are traditionally associated with dirt and squalor and hearing the grunting pig Lord Shiva thought the lake was a dirty place. He set out in search of cleanliness and tranquility and settled in Gosainkund Lake in Rasuwa district.’

Legends that unite and link various lakes in and around the Kathmandu Valley have always fascinated me. One says that the waters of the holy Gosainkund Lake are believed to appear at the Khumbeshwar Mahadev temple in Patan (Lalitpur) after a long journey through a subterranean channel. I had recently trekked to Gosainkund and I frequently visit Nagdaha (literally ‘Snake Lake’), the nearest lake to KIST Medical College in Gwarko, Lalitpur. There’s a similar lake called Taudaha, near Chobhar. Both are on the south side of Patan.

Another legend unites these two lakes. It goes like this: A female serpent stays in Nagdaha and a male serpent in Taudaha. Every year during the rainy season the male serpent visits Panauti to participate in a festival (jatra). As Nagdaha is on the way to Panauti the male serpent visits the female during both the onward and return journey, accompanied by heavy rains and thunder that are common during this season. In Nepal, the snakes (nagas) are traditionally believed to bring good rains and prosperity to the country.

Yet another legend tells that the great Manjushree drained the Kathmandu Valley with a clean sword cut through the Chobhar hill. After that, the ‘naga’, inhabitants of the vast lake were allowed to live in various small lakes in the newly created valley. Basuki Naga, for example, was allowed to stay in Nagdaha.

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