When I first thought about going to Kathmandu, without having done any research, I thought there’d be a lot of mountains, glaciers, lakes, crisp mountain air and such, but nope, it’s actually a giant bustling city. It’s not quite like a city full of skyscrapers and things, but a vast sprawl of low rise buildings. I would have liked to go out of the city, but I didn’t have enough time.
It’s reminiscent of other developing Asian nations. People are riding around in motorbikes, pedestrians cross the street by weaving through vehicles, and there’s so much traffic that it kicks up a ton of dust. Cars here often don’t have AC and more often than not have hand cranked windows. The official language is Nepali, but many people speak Hindi or at least know some words. It’s timezone is also quite interesting… Its offset is 5:45 from UTC meaning it’s got a timezone that shifts in 15 minutes instead of a whole hour. And I thought India’s 30 minute shift was annoying.
Durbar Square once held the palaces over the kings that ruled over the city. In the surrounding area, there are also some courtyards and temples. The architecture of the temples is reminiscent of temples in China, which makes sense since Buddhism is quite prevalent in both countries.
In the center of the square, masses of street vendors sell trinkets to visitors. The trinkets are mainly Buddhist prayer bowls, and other religious paraphernalia.
The most shocking thing to me in Nepal, is that as a part of their Hindu and Buddhist traditions, people worship “kumari“, young prepubescent girls that represent the manifestation of divine female energy.
The worship of the goddess in a young girl represents the worship of divine consciousness spread all over the creation. As the supreme goddess is thought to have manifested this entire cosmos out of her womb, she exists equally in animate as well as inanimate objectsWikipedia
Within Durbar Square, in an almost non-descript brick building, the kumari appears from time to time within the windows that look into the courtyard of the building, but no photography is allowed. I had randomly stumbled upon this building only because there were so many people around it.
The Boudhanath is one of the largest Buddhist stupas Nepal, and it’s architecture is unlike anything in the city, so it’s quite prominent. The prayer flags have five colours, which represent different “elements”: earth, water, fire, air, and space. The elements are also represented as a part of the structure with the base as earth, the dome as water, the square platform as fire, the spire as air, and the umbrella as space.
The Pashupatinath Temple is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, and is a Hindu religious place. Where the fires burning in the picture is the actual place where cremations happen. Within the area are a collection of different temples, but I wasn’t allowed to visit them because I’m not a Hindu. I never thought I’d ever be discriminated for my religion (or lack thereof)!
See more pictures of my trip to Kathmandu here