Since the 17th century, Hindus in search of their heart’s desire have ascended a steep and rocky mountain to the temple of Manakamana, the wish-fulfilling goddess. It is quite a hike, actually, four to eight hours depending on the strength of the climber and whether he or she is bringing along sacrificial goats or chickens.
But the word of mouth about Manakamana has always been quite good, and, as one might expect of a deity who makes dreams come true, she is a big draw. Despite the temple’s location in the remote Himalayas 70 miles west of Katmandu, some 350,000 of the pious have been making the arduous up-and-down trek every year.
Inevitably, 20th-century entrepreneurs would take note of such heavy attendance. After doing the requisite market research, a Nepalese corporation, Chitawon Construction and Engineering Company, built a modern sky ride last year with 31 cable cars to do the climbing up the 4,000-foot-high mountainside. It has cut the time of the once strenuous pilgrimage to a fleet eight and a half minutes.