Sunday was our first full day in Kathmandu. The only way I can describe Kathmandu is half culture shock, half peace of mind.
When you enter a restaurant or store in Kathmandu the merchant immediately greets you with a friendly “namaste” hello.
That’s the sense you get from the Nepali culture. Everything is about being zen and about your connection to the spirit in your practice–well minus the practice of driving, it’s organized chaos!
Our hostel arranged for us to have a private driver for the day. It was $20 each to be taken to four Buddhist or Hindu temples. $20 can seem like a lot of money in Nepal, that’s because it is, we didn’t realize how much to take out of the ATM on the first day so we decided on 3,000 rupees each. Turns out that’s a little over $25. Most of our meals have been about 200-500 rupees.
Our first stop on the temple tour was Swayambhu or the “monkey temple”. This is a Buddhist area with a staircase of 300 steps leading to the temples peak. Monkeys roam the area freely and you can come in contact with them if you desire. Our friends warned us not to feed or make eye contact with them. But one took a liking to me a graciously posed for a snapshot!
Next stop was the most holy temple for the Hindu religion, Pashupatinath. This temple is on the river bank of the Bagmati River. The river is significant because it is where the dead are brought to be cremated. You can see the smoke in the image below, that is a cremation ceremony taking place. The river is where the bodies are finally put to rest in ash form. This holy water way flows into the Ganges River.
Side note on the Ganges, it is extremely polluted and there is controversy on how to clean because many believe it to be holy an therefore remain untouched.
Here you can see the white tips of five additional Hindu temples called Panch Deval. This area is now used as a social welfare center for Hindu people as well as a holy site.
Boudhanath is home to one of the largest stupas and is the religious center point for the Tibetan exiles of Nepal. Here you find several monks wandering the streets surrounding the temple. There is an area within the exterior gates to practice yoga. People who choose to practice use a wooden rectangular block and lay towels down, using two small cloths to move from standing to up dog, back to standing.
Outside the temple area we found a stand with the puff balls filled with a potato soup! We stopped to try them!
Patan’s Durbar Square
Patan is separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River, the town is very large with numerous stupas and bahals shrined with colorful flowers.
In Patan’s Durbar Square there is a great view of the snow peaked Himalayas from every view point! There is also great shopping and a select few restaurants and street food available, we stopped for a coffee at a restaurant overlooking the palaces of the former rulers of Nepal.
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square
We wrapped up the day at the market/square where former Nepali kings were crowned. The square is the heart of Kathmandu and about a 15 minute walk to where we are staying.
The squares architecture is something to take note of, it’s quite spectacular. You can climb to the top terraced platforms of a structure called Maju Dhoka.
We finished off the day with a couple beers and a small meal of veggie burger meats potato pancake like patties with hot sauce to dip. And of course a couple beers!