Swimming With Snakes in Bhaktapur

BHAKTAPUR, Nepal — Swimming with snakes in Bhaktapur is the safest place to undertake such an activity, but only because they’re copper cobra statues.

Naga Pokhara’s hiti, or spring-fed bathing pools, are situated near Taleju Temple and offered a view of Fasidega Temple (before it was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake), with giant serpents keeping watch.

The Longest Way Home blog writes:

Built in 1678 by Jitamitra Malla from a natural spring the Naga Pokhara (Royal Bath) is also considered a hiti as water pours from a stone water spout into a sunken basin. You can’t help but notice the huge snakes that encircle the bath. These are Nagas which are deities that take the form of water serpents.

Water levels at the bathing spot were almost completely depleted. Word is that growing development in the area, along with increased water consumption, has drained the groundwater supply. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the situation was temporary and that the waters would return.

Naga Pokhara sat within view of Fasidega Temple, which was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. At top, human-sized snakes watch over bathers in the royal pool. (Photographs by Bruno J. Navarro)

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