Tuesday, May 5, 2015

3 Days in Spiritual City Kathmandu

UPDATE:- Recent Earthquake has caused heavy damage to historical landmarks. Most of the Historical Temples are now lost forever. 

Travel Date: March 2015.
We landed Tribhuvan international airport at 9 AM and contrary to my belief  airport is small but nice and clean .I don’t know how it has been ranked among world’s worst airport, i have seen many worst airport than this. Only issue  was in baggage claim area which is small and completely mess.
We hired prepaid taxi inside airport for thamel. City is chaotic and pollution is at dangerous level. It is very common to see local people with mask. 
We passed via pashupatinath temple and baghmati river. After spending sometime in hotel we started our excursion toward Kathmandu durbar square  through narrow lanes of thamel. Once thamel area used to be one of the finishing point of hippie trail and now its backpacker’s paradise. It is filled with cheap hotel/lodge and souvenir shops. Lanes are colourful with cloths, paining and souvenir displayed outside the shops.
First impression to the Kathmandu Durbar Square at the entrance is disappointing and nothing like supposed to be for an UNESCO heritage site. It is not  managed and crowded with vehicle and people . We paid for ticket at the kiosk which includes admission to Durbar square and Hanuman Dhoka.
Kathmandu durbar square is spread over large area and consist of many temples including Kasthamandap, Vishnu Temple, Indrapur Temple and Taleju temples. Kathmandu durbar square is much bigger than Bhaktapur or patan durbar square. Kumari Chowk at the end of durbar square was most curious attraction for us. We wanted to see the kumaris who are chosen as human incarnation of the Hindu goddess, Durga. Our guide suggested us to come back after finishing the tour at 4 PM to see her and glad we did. 
The unique thing about temples in Nepal is their wooden carving, which are  undoubtedly one of the best in the world. One of the striking feature is struts design, which supports the temples. Each strut is fine example of art with god, goddess and mythical figures carved in the middle. Only few temple inside Kathmandu durbar square are active and devotee can be seen all the time.

Hanuman Dhoka built in 16th century is Royal Palace of former king. Name of the palace comes form the stone image of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, that sits near the main entranceMost of outer exterior of the structure is covered with wooden carvings and for sure i have never seen such beautiful wooden carving anywhere in the world.

There are few active temple inside the Kathmandu durbar square.
Garden of dream or garden of six season was very near to our hotel and we decided to spend evening in garden. The Garden of Dreams is a historical garden in Kathmandu, Nepal, built in 1920.  There are  six pavilions, which is dedicated to one of the six seasons in Nepal. It was neglected for long and recently renovated with the help of Austrian Government. It is a beautiful and quit place amid chaotic city. 
Next morning we were able to get direct city bus from Kathmandu Bus stand to bhaktapur. Bhaktapur durbar square is very spacious, less crowded and clean compare to other two durbar squares. Once this square was filled with temple. Unfortunately only 6 structures survive out of 99 in 1934 earth quack. Former king palace is now museum.
There is another square calll tamudi square very near to Durbar square. It has two prominent bulding the Bhairava and Nyatapola Temples. Both were erected by by Bhupatindra Malla in the early 1700s.
We walked for sometime through narrow lanes and pottery square near durbar square before heading towards Changu Narayan Temple.
Changu Narayan  Temple is situated at hiltop and considered as one of the oldest temple in nepal.Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is like a open museum of sculpture and beautiful carvings dedicated to newar architecture.

We started our last day in  Kathmandu from Pashupati nath temple. It is considered as one of the holiest temple for Hindus. There is also cremation ground beside baghmati river which can be seen from temple.
After prayer at pashupatinath we headed towards Boudhnath stupa. This Bauddha or Boudhanath  stupa was built after the demise of Lord Buddha and large amount of gold was used. It is largest single Buddhist shrine in the world.
The next destination was patan durbar square at Lalitpur. It is one of  UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal. It is  famous  for its architecture and wooden carvings. The  history of  the durbar square is not very clear .The city of Patan is believed to have  been built in the 3rd century B.C. by the kirat  dynasty. Most of the  temples were built in  1600s.  There are many temples inside the Durbar Square  and it is a marvel of newa architecture. 
There is also two museum inside durbar square one which hold antique piece related to Hinduism and Buddhism and second one is dedicated to architectural style of Nepal. Both the museum are rich in collection and give insight of culture history and newa architecture.
The last place we visited was swambhunath also known as monkey temple. monkey can be found everywhere near and inside the temple. It is on a hill top with about 400 stairs to climb. It is revered by both Hindus and Buddhist. 
Third day was most busiest and tiring day for us. we did some shopping in china town and thamel before going back to thamel.

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