Kathmandu - ancient and modern

Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kathmandu has a beautiful setting prior to the 20c it must have been wonderful but as usual man has done his best to ruin it. Packed tightly in its valley Kathmandu is choking itself with building works and pollution.

Regardless it is a great place to be as a tourist, it has all the things you need particularly bookshops and supermarkets which sell all the comforts of home - digestive biscuits, baked beans and Colgate toothpaste!

There is plenty to do and see with all the shopping, cafes and Internet cafes you could wish for - I was particularly please to find good coffee which has been missing since Goa.

A trip up to visit the Temple Hill with a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu was well worth the effort of 365 steps - I didn't count them. The steep climb was lined with the normal tourist booths and troops of monkeys. The top of the hill has a large collection of temples and stupas. There is an active Buddhist Monastery where it is possible to watch the monks at prayer.

The visit to Durbar Square was enhance by all the preparation for the festival due this weekend. On Friday no-one goes shopping they stay at home and decorate a single room with flowers and lights to invite in the Godess. Each day of the festival is devoted to a different creature crows, dogs, cows and on Saturday sisters welcome their brothers and the brother brings them gifts... good idea!

Bhaktapur was built as a capital city in the 12c . At that time there were 3 seperate kingdoms in the Kathmandu Valley - eventually the King of Kathmandu with the notable help from the Gurkas - took over the smaller 2 to make a single kingdom. Bhaktapur was badly damaged in the major earthquake of 1934 but although they have lost a number of temples the major Durbur Square has been restored.

In the Taumadhi Square stands the largest/tallest Tibetan Temple a 5 storeyed temple dedicated to laxmi - godess of wealth. The square is in every day use and offerings in the form of animal scarifices are made on a daily basis. We did see the evidence if not the acts.

The complex includes  palaces, hindu and buddhist monastries all in a small area. There are many traditional crafts still practiced here with a working pottery, a painting school and wood craving workshops.

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