PALPA, Aug 7: Since the last 40 years, priests of Rambhadevi Temple in Palpa district have been carrying the idols of the temple to a safer location every day after prayers to protect them from thieves. The priests then place them back in the temple the next morning.
Every day after the afternoon prayers, the priests carry the idols and keep them at a house of a local in Tahun Bazaar. The next day, they wake up before dawn and place them back in the temple. They are obliged to do so due to the fear of losing the priceless idols to thieves.
In 1975, the statue of Rambhadevi, which has gold plating on the outside, was stolen from the temple. Since then, the priests have been very carefully protecting the remaining idols of the temples. Rambhadevi Temple lies within a dense forest and away from the nearest settlement of Tahun in Rambha Rural Municipality-5. This is the reason why the priests fear that the idols might be stolen from the temple.
While the remaining two statues – a serpent and a cow – are made up of brass, a stone idol locally known as Shila is believed to have originated on its own. Considering this, the priests have given high priority for their protection. Priest Tikaram Basyal informed Republica that they carry the statue to safer location after visitors stop coming to the temple.
Prem Narayan Pandey, another priest of the temple, said that it is difficult to find people who are willing to guard the idols especially at night in the middle of the jungle.
"So, carrying them to the home of a nearby local is the only option," said Pandey.
"Preparations are underway to make a secure room for the statue and shelter for the priests with the temple premises," said a local, Kalidas Shrestha, adding, "We have made a five-year work plan keeping the history and the arrival of tourists in mind."
There is a source of water right above the Rambhadevi Temple. Legend has it that the water spout was created by none other than Lord Ram during his visit to the place while serving his 14-year banishment from the kingdom of Ayodhya. Lord Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe, along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman had visited the place. When Sita felt thirsty and there wasn't any source of water, Lord Ram drew his bow and arrow and created the water source in the ground.
Various other mythological stories are attached with this temple.
Every year, during the Krishna Jamasthami (the day lord Krishna is believed to be born) a huge fair is organized in the temple. Pilgrims from various parts of the country visit Rambhadevi Temple on this day. This temple is around 31 km east near the jungle of Rambhapani.