Every year bands of pilgrims, Hindu and Buddhist, travel to the sacred site of Mukinath, high in the Himalayas of Nepal.
On their journey they pass along the Kali Gandaki river, famous for its sacred ‘saligrams’ – black ammonites worshipped as Vishnu, the god who turned into stone.
The village of Kagbeni, on the banks of the river, is a day’s journey from Muktinath. Many such pilgrims stop here to rest, prepare and search for the treasured saligrams. It is in this area that the Jurassic ‘Blue Lias’ rock which contains the fossils, can be seen, just as in Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast.
In the evening crowds gather by the river to bathe, wash garments and shave. They search the river bed…
At sunrise they return to light fires and prepare offerings. Dough, fruit, and grain are placed on leaves with messages and money, dedicated to the dead and set to float downstream. Photos are taken, then one last look for the dark, round stones before it’s time to leave…
Quiet descends once more and the wind picks up, scattering traces of hair and embers, pigments and words and the river carries the remnants away.