Bhaktapur*

After the visit to Pashupatinath Temple we left Kathmandu and drove to Bhaktapur which is 30 minutes away from Kathmandu. The Changu Narayan Temple was another old Hindu temple but turned out to be the one we liked best so far. On the way to it we passed through an area that produces a lot of bricks but also has agriculture as everywhere in Tibet (after tourism the most important sector).

As with most temples or stupas we exited the car below and ascended via stairs to the holy building. The way was framed by little shops on both sides, offering all the goods we had already seen at the other sites. But here instead of monkeys some chickens were checking us out.IMG_0815 IMG_0814

Upon our arrival on top we got clear instructions on how to deal with the minimal begging. If people beg then they just sit beside the way and open their hands but they are not accosting you.

The temple was a simple wooden structure but with some intricate details and a monkey guardian.

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The monkey sat watch before the entrance and checked what goods had been sacrificed that he could eat.IMG_0840 IMG_0843 IMG_0848

And one more picture in front of temple. As you can clearly see it was taken by our guide.IMG_0862

 

Another short car ride brought us to Bhaktapur the third royal city in the Kathmandu valley. It was also the least modernized city we had seen so far. Our guide had to pay our entrance fee upon entering the city by car. The streets were not tarmac (not that the other cities had so many paved streets to begin with) but these here were similar to the cobblestone streets in old European cities, just done with bricks. No wonder after seeing  so many factories.

We started the visit of Bhaktapur with a lunch break and the best Momos Sylvia had so far. I went for salad and some greasy noodles while the guide got some fish and chips. The fish was not fried interestingly.IMG_0883 IMG_0884 IMG_0885 IMG_0886

After this invigorating meal we drove first to our hotel in Bhaktapur the Bhadgaon Guest House. We got the room right on top overlooking the Taumadhi Square on the 5th floor or so. Of course no elevator but we had a nice young guy carrying both bags (and looking as if he died underneath the weight). Here a picture of the room and the view from the bathroom.

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After refreshing ourselves, we met the guide again and started our tour right at the Taumadhi Square and then went in a circle around the inner city. IMG_0889IMG_0890IMG_0895

In the back streets it all looked a bit different, darker an smaller. Still people were always friendly and smiling.IMG_0897IMG_0899IMG_0902IMG_0903IMG_0907IMG_0908

And then we were finally at the Durbar Square of Bhaktapur (did I already mention that all three royal cities have a Durbar Square?) and met the obligatory temple, palace, statue of the king on a pillar etc. What I loved most here was that the square had been turned into a pedestrian zone and it really improved the quality of our sightseeing.IMG_0911IMG_0913IMG_0914
I also liked how all these historical buildings are part of every day life, they were not just there to admire but to actually enjoy them.IMG_0922
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After we were back at our hotel we said goodbye to our guide (and I am sorry to say that I don’t remember his name because he did a really good job), had a Nepali coffee at the hotel and then went shopping. Sylvia bought a local outfit in the colors yellow and lilac and then we had our dinner overlooking the Taumadhi Square were a band played. It was actually our first night out and already with music! Way to go!
The white stuff in the middle of the plate is uncooked flat rice (don’t know how they do it, but it is thin as paper and crunchy), and you eat it all with the soup. I am glad I tried it, but it will not become my favorite dish. Oh yeah, the big thing to the left is a hard-boiled egg fried again. IMG_0972

And here you can see the band playing here, the music was not good so that is not what I wanted to show you, but look how dark it is. There is almost no street light and most of the lights you see were coming from hotels and restaurants catering to tourists. Not much later we went back to the hotel and called it a night.
Yours, Pollybert
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*all pictures taken on April 24

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More of Kathmandu*

After a good night’s rest we met our guide in the morning to visit another stupa, this time Boudhanath. But first we had to come down with our backpack.IMG_0669

The Boudhanath stupa reminded me a lot of Sienna, just instead of an empty space there was this huge Buddha pilgrim site.IMG_0684
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While we were drinking coffee in a rooftop café we watched some guys preparing the stupa for the next full moon festival. For this occasion they beautified the stupa with yellow arches which resembled the lotus flower. All this was done in Jackson Pollock style, with a flick of the wrist the color was thrown on the stupa.

From the stupa we drove then to Pashupatinath Temple, a sacred Hindu temple on the banks of the river Bagmati. The location is necessary due to the ritual cremation of the Hindu dead whose ashes are then scattered into said river. We entered the temple by the main entrance and already saw a couple of “gurus” in orange. if you want to take their picture you have to pay for it.

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We saw a few more of these “holy men” and were told that some of them had taken a vow of silence. See for yourself how serious they take it.IMG_0755

We made our way in front of the temple which we were not allowed to visit. Entrance was only allowed for Hindus who had to leave all leather goods behind and were walking around barefoot. While for us the fervour of the praying Hindus was amazing so were we for them a spectacle to behold.IMG_0709

So funny to be the object of fascination, we were asked three times for our pictures. Sorry that I can’t show you the bare feet but our guide here for the two days managed to cut off our feet on all pictures.

And here some impressions of the temple. Please note the goat!IMG_0705IMG_0717 IMG_0718 IMG_0719

Slowly we walked from the temple to the river where the cremation area lay. The complex was huge and included a retirement home. Lots of people were milling around, getting a red teeka or just took pictures in from of the doves.IMG_0721IMG_0726IMG_0730IMG_0735

The cremation area was around the river Bagmati. On the one side you have the cremation places, individual piles of wood on which the dead are placed and next to it, after the bridge you have the cleansing area of the dead. Cleansing is probably the wrong word. But as far as I understood in this area the dead are placed on a slab of stone with their feet touching the water. Also relatives will pour some more river water into the mouth of the deceased. Here in this area the relatives are saying goodbye and through the water the soul leaves the body. So when the person is finally burned it is just his shell.
Across from all this is the area for the spectators (and where I took the pictures from). Not just tourists but also people praying and watching. A very public spectacle.IMG_0743IMG_0744IMG_0747IMG_0748

If you look a bit closer you can see two bodies waiting to be cleansed and one were the rituals done. And this was it for Kathmandu. Shortly after we made our way to Bhaktapur. Yours, PollybertIMG_0749IMG_0762IMG_0763IMG_0764IMG_0765

* All pictures taken on April 24th