I will be traveling to Nepal next Spring for Tour/Pilgrimage/Trek. The more I read about Kathmandu valley, the more excited and intrigued I become about different sites and I hope for as much opportunity for practice/ merit making as possible. Currently, I have been reading some of Keith Dowman’s essays ( http://keithdowman.net/essays/guide-to- ... alley.html )and other sources, and realize that some information is historical, some speculative, and some mythological. I guess it is all up to how deep your faith is and whether or not some sources are more authoritative than others, this I do not know. I am hoping that some of you may have some experiences, insights, and other information that may prove useful or even inspirational. I have read some of the other threads and checked out Alex’s blog about his trip which I am finding very valuable. I will be staying in Boudha for 4 of 6 days in KTM and I can’t wait to do some early morning practice at the stupa.
I am also currently looking with real interest at the Nagarjun Forest Reserve/Nagarjun Hill/Jamacho gumpa and, let’s just say that, the typical travel info does not do any justice to the significance of this particular area. It took a little digging, but so far what I am now finding is jaw dropping to say the least. Does anyone have any knowledge about the location of the caves described by Dowman?
The Vindhya Mountain is called Jamacho in Newari. In front of the Buddha's Throne on the peak is a local cremation ground. In the middle of dense forest beneath the Throne of Sakyamuni is the cave of Nagarjuna in which are stone images of Nagarjuna and Sakyamuni. Nearby are the tracks of the Mahe Buddha (the Buffalo Buddha). Also nearby is the cave of Acarya Vasubandhu. The two stupas said to be the reliquaries of the father and mother of the Buddha are found on the face of the hill behind (the Balaju) Nilakantha. [CN]
Nagarjunapad had made a cave on the Jat Matrochcha mountain (Jamacho), where he had placed an image of Akshobhya Budh, to worship Swayambhu. As the water filled the valley (during the Nagas' attempt to reclaim it from man), it rose up to the navel of this image, whereupon Nagarjun caught the Nag that was playing in the water and making it rise, and confined him in the cave. Whatever water is required this cave is supplied by this Nag to the present day, and for this reason the Nag is called Jalpurit ('Making Full of Water'). This Nagarjunapad Acharya made an earthen chaitya, and composed or compiled many tantra shastras, and discovered many gods. He died in the cave. The mountain then became known as Nagarjun, and it is considered very sacred. People who are anxious to gain salvation leave orders with their relatives to send their skull-bone (the 'frontal-bone') to this mountain, where it is thrown high in the air, then buried, and a chaitya built over it." [Wright, p.96]
There are innumerable caves on the flanks of Nagarjuna Hill. Nagarjuna's Cave still survives high up on the eastern side in a gully. Water flows out of the cave in the monsoon. Images of Nagarjuna and Aksobhya are within. I have not located the Vasubandhu Cave. Nagarjuna's Cave is known to some Tibetans as the cave of Guru Rimpoche (Laksmi Gupha, with its new image of Nagarjuna, being considered as Nagarjuna's cave). On the north side of the eastern spur, which runs to Balaju, above Raniban Village, is the cave of Bhagavan Buddha. Inside at the back is a seemingly new image of Sakyamuni in bhumisparsa-mudra, a broken image of Bajrabir Mahakala and a stone inscription. Outside is a broken figure in lalita-mudra, probably a form of Tara. There are two empty caves further up the spur. On the north side of the spur is Laksmi Gupha. Inside a steepled chamber within the cave entrance is a relatively new image of Amoghasiddhi or Nagarjuna. During the monsoon of 1980 a large boulder fell from the roof and broke an old image of Vajra Yogini now still visible behind the boulder. Two tunnels barely large enough to allow the passage of a crawling adult lead off from the cavern. One twists and turns for 150' before ending at a figure of the Buddha. The other is equally as long and leads to a chamber with an image of Laksmi. She is visited in times of dire need of wealth. Rumours of caves on Nagarjuna abound. There is reputed to the a cave on this same spur containing a twelve foot high crystal Buddha accessible by rope down a 40' pit and through a narrow tunnel. Further exploration of these caves is needed.
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