If travel to Nepal makes me enlightened, I’ll take it! Because while I’m not overcome with spirituality, I have learned a lot about Nepali culture and the religions the country prides itself on.
Wednesday was our last day in Kathmandu so Kate and I decided to venture on a self guided walking tour loosely based on one suggested by Lonely Planet. The tour was through the less visited areas of Kathmandu; you know away from the tourist traps.
We began at a small cafe where locals often gather for breakfast and lunch. It was a chilly morning so we were in need of some hot coffee and tea!
From there we ventured to Durbar Square, a place I’ve mentioned before, that was our starting point.
This was easy in theory except that there was a big festival in Kathmandu on Wednesday and many more people were visiting the city. For most tourist you must pay to enter the square, a fee we’ve avoided. This time we had no intention of staying in the square we simply wanted to walk through.
After two tour guides and one guard approached us to pay the entry fee we persuaded our way into and across the square without paying!
Next obstacle, avoid getting hit by bikes, motorbikes, cars and vans. Simple enough, right? Well there are no sidewalks in Kathmandu and the streets are quite narrow so while there are several other people on foot there is always a chance of being hit.
When we got our footing for the walking tour it took us down alleyways of shops, butchers, barbers and bakers.
But mostly off the beaten path where there are amazing Hindu Temples and Buddhist stupas, placed as if the city were in itself a museum. Ancient relics, that if found a home in America instead of in Nepal would be preserved in museums, not in everyday use.
We walked past a group of Buddhist “singers” as a nice Nepali man said, “photo okay.” But we chose not to interrupt their practice by taking a photograph. So we continued on past children playing in temple pavilions and a cow being stored among the religious relics of the 17th century.
I’d like to compare Kathmandu to a city like Rome where you wander the streets and find hidden history and beautiful churches through narrow alleys; but you cannot make that comparison because Kathmandu offers so much more natural use of these historic and religious pieces than any other city I’ve visited. In Cairo, Rome and London while great history lives in the city walls, the museums still hold the key to it’s greatness. Here it’s all out, in plain sight and functional.
I wanted to note that the festival I mentioned was a Communist government gathering of sorts, we are trying to figure out what it was. Here are photos from when we walked past the gathering.