Tracking the eclipse
I'm here in the lazy lakeside town of Pokhara, trying to figure out (among other things) the best place to go within Nepal to view the upcoming total eclipse of the sun - July 22, 2009.
Here are some traditional Hindu dharma ideas about appropriate activities during a solar eclipse.
Usually, Hindus do not perform any work during Surya Grahan and they purify themselves by taking a bath and chant mantras. A complete fast is undertaken by many Hindus during the period. In Hindu religion, taking a holy dip at sacred rivers and tirths on the Surya Grahan day is considered highly auspicious.
I am close to Muktinath, the remote Buddhist-Hindu mountaintop temple, which would seem to be an ideal place. But at Muktinath, the eclipse will "only" be about 94%.
From southeastern Nepal, however, such as the town of Gaighat, it will be 100%. It seems a shame to be so close to a 100% eclipse and not actually witness it somehow. Of course, all this is dependent on weather. I could go allll the way to Gaighat - and, being in the Terai, it is subject to bandhs and road blockages - and not see the eclipse due to weather.
Or, I could go up to Muktinath, and still not witness it properly for the same reason. I have been led to believe there are fewer clouds in Muktinath, so perhaps a 94% view clearly is better than 100% subject to monsoon clouds.
The ideal place might be Varanasi or Bodh Gaya, where undoubtedly there will be a great deal of chanting and appropriate pujas held. But as it's only 10 days away and I don't yet have the Indian visa, it might be near-impossible. July is boiling in those places; but for a once in a lifetime event, I suppose I could rough it. The Ganges at Varanasi will be absolutely swamped on such an occasion.
As Asian logic would have it, it takes as long to reach Eastern Nepal (thanks to bad roads and strikes) as it would to reach Varanasi, in the next country.
Following The Sun Shadow or Ted Scott and the Great Eclipse
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