Huge blue statue of seated figure
Culture & tradition,  Nepal,  Photographing Public Art

Lord Shiva statue in the hills above Pokhara

A new sight has recently appeared in the hills above Pokhara. A huge statue of Lord Shiva, the second largest in Nepal, sits serenely looking out over the foothills. And at his back are the mighty Himalayas.

The statue is located above the small mountain village of Pumdikot. It stands 51 feet tall, while the white stupa it sits on adds a further 57 feet, making the entire structure 108 feet (32 metres) high. It is the second tallest statue of Shiva in Nepal, the largest being the Kailashnath Mahadev statue near Kathmandu which we had seen on the drive to and from Dhulikhel.

Huge statue seen above tree tops and advertising hoardings
Kailashnath Mahadev

As for Pokhara’s Shiva statue, there are plans to develop the surroundings as a memorial park with further attractions, and to improve access. From our experience the latter is badly needed! The road up was extremely bumpy, even by Nepalese standards, and parking both limited and chaotic. So we were glad our driver knew of a good spot to leave the car. From there it was a fairly steep climb up a stony path, lined with locals selling souvenirs and also fresh produce.

Despite the as yet unfinished development around it, this statue is already clearly a big draw. The place was thronged.

Lord Shiva

Shiva is one of the three main gods of Hinduism, alongside Brahma and Vishnu. He is known as the Destroyer. He is always portrayed with a serpent around his neck, an adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, a trident as his weapon, and a drum. You can see all those emblems here.

Here is as usual, in addition to the huge figure of Shiva himself, there is a golden bull in front of it (Shiva’s vehicle is a bull). Small lingas form a circle all the way around the edge of the main platform. He sits on a tiger skin and there is a small statue of Lord Ganesha by the tiger’s head.

Some people were removing shoes to climb to the highest level. But we contented ourselves with walking, clockwise of course, around the base. On the far side was a spectacular view of the Annapurnas, with Fewa Lake in the foreground. However, Pokhara itself is hidden immediately below this viewpoint.

Landscape looking down at a lake with snow-capped mountains beyond
View of Fewa Lake and the Annapurnas

I’m not sure whether everyone would regard this religious statue as public art. Still, I hope Natalie will consider it as such for this week’s challenge!

I visited Pokhara in November 2022


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