What to see in 3 days
and decoration, and especially feel the magic after dark by lamplight, to observe the customs of the local people and Hindu visitors from other parts of Nepal or India. Some of the temples were completely destroyed by the quake, others were damaged and are shored up, others have been completely restored and work will continue until everything is rebuilt…Durbar Square is still one of the most impressive sites in the world.
The Nepalese were celebrating Dashain –the date varies according to calendar year, end of September or October- and 100’s of people were queueing to walk up the steps and around the platforms of the highest temple – Taleju is an extraordinary 12 stage plinth which is only open during this important festival.
We were allowed into the courtyard of Kumari-ghar which is the home of the living Goddess; the Kumari is believed to be an incarnation of the Goddess Taleju, a chosen child who lives with her guardian priestess and appears at the window to be seen at certain times. While this may seem strange us, it is a significant part of Nepalese culture.
Around the edge of Durbar Square, there are tiny stalls where you can sit by the pavement and drink tea or try traditional pastries, but we gave this a miss as we’d been invited over to have something to eat with the Bhandaris as Dashain is above all a family affair about hospitality…it turned out to be an evening to remember in wonderful company.
Day 2 Patan Durbar Square and Swayambhu Monkey Temple Padam took us to Patan on our 2nd day in Kathmandu… Padam Bhandari being our guide from Nepal Adventure Point, and Patam one of the original three kingdoms of Kathmandu Valley founded in the year 299!
The taxi dropped us off at the gateway to ancient Patan city which was the once home of the Newar Dynasty. Some 8 km from Thamel in Kathmandu city centre where we were staying, this is one of Nepal’s must-see attractions and yet another unique World Heritage Site. We walked around the narrow streets noticing more signs of the earthquake destruction…much is being done to restore the many buildings of incalculable historical value but it takes time.
Patan is a wonder to discover, more authentic and less crowed than touristy Thamel, it is also famous for the fine local craftwork. The four magnificent stupas on each corner of town were reportedly built 2,250 years ago and there are some 1,200 Buddhist monuments listed, altogether most impressive!
We past some of the amazing ancient temples, some still in ruins, and then stopped to see Patan museum which is housed in a former Royal Palace and exhibits unique Hindu and Buddhist relics and fascinating works of art.
An archway leads onto the courtyard of a small 12th century Buddhist monastery known as the Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna Mahavihar). I t’s a beautiful 3-storey pagoda decorated with paintings and carvings which show the life of Buddha. Under the arcades round the patio, women in traditional dress were preparing flower offerings. An ornate shrine is the centrepiece and other interesting features include a big prayer wheel, the clock tower and the statueflanked altar at the back.
Patan Durbar Square is at the very heart of the old town and a focal point surrounded by shrines, temples and other incredible monuments. The Royal Palace is located here…the complex comprises three main courtyards, or ‘Chwoks’ as they are called in Nepal, the Bhawani Taleju and Degu Taleju temples, and the stunning Royal Bath stone statues.
The 17th century Krishna Mandir is another magnificent temple on Patan Durbar Square and easily recognizable with its 21 gilded pinnacles and colourful friezes portraying scenes from the classic Hindu epics.
It’s true that we could have made our own way around to see the many sites in Kathmandu, but it was much more interesting to be shown around by Padam… although he professionally guides adventure treks across the Himalayan mountains, he is great at explaining all the historical features of Nepal too.
Day 2 Continues next week with a visit to the Swayambhu Monkey Temple
Hiranya Varna Mahavihar temple in Patan
Patan Durbar Square
Temple on Kathmandu Durbar Square
Krishna Mandir Patan
Hiranya Varna Mahavihar temple Patan