- Kathmandu Diary by CA Pavan Part 1
- Kathmandu Diary Part 2 : Nagarkot – What loneliness really means / ‘Everest –where art thou?”
DAY 3 – 6th April 2015
# Pashupatinath calling and Prince Paras
I decided to visit Pashupatinath again. I was desperate to hear the sound of the ‘chimta, dhol and damaru’ again. This time too I took the mini-van and 3 stops later, I was at the temple. As the temple sounds reached my ears, my spirit which had taken some beating yesterday, was up and roaring to go. One more trip to Nagarkot, maybe? I was wise not to push my luck that far.
On the way out, I caught glimpse of a tall, well-built man, with the traditional Nepali cap on. He was surrounded by security guards. I thought it must be some politician and walked out. To my utter surprise, the entrance was blocked by several media persons. Camera and mikes all around. This had to be someone important. I lingered around the temple entrance and spoke to a Nepali to inquire about the identity of this ‘celebrity’. I learnt that this was Prince Paras, the son of the ex-King of Nepal. Before I could find out about the ex-king, Prince Paras was out and his followers began shouting, “Paras Sarkar ki jai.. Paras Sarkar ki jai…” Unfortunately, not many around were as enthusiastic.
Nepal proved many times during my visit as to how intricately it is connected with India. We share the same major religion, almost the same language, our tradition is the same and my visit to the temple that morning also proved one more thing – we share the sycophancy for our VIPs.
# Katmandu Durbar Square
Back to my hotel, Virat willingly gave his bike to me to go around – his thoughts; ‘if this bike can survive Nagarkot in his hands, Kathmandu city should be no problem’. I was on the bike down south, through Thamel and then to the Kathmandu Durbar Square.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square is massive in size. At the entrance, you will find a huge white building on your right. To the left is a long platform which is a flea market of sorts. You will find several tables laid on the platform with souvenirs. The path in between will lead you to the Durbar Square. Like the one in Bhakatapur, there are many wooden buildings with a historical significance. The difference between the two is that the one in Kathmandu stretches over a larger area. The place is also known as Hanumandokha and it gets its name from a small Hanuman temple at the corner of the street. There is also a statute of Garuda beside a temple. A path to the right leads you to a platform where people feed pigeons. This platform is full of these winged creatures and the stench is overpowering. You would like to move on in a few minutes. To the left, is a large statue of Kali – this one is very colourful and is beautifully painted. She stands on Shiva with those celestial weapons in hand.
A little ahead is the Durbar Square museum. The museum is built within one of the palaces. You get to see the rooms that the kings used. I understand that the King and his whole family was killed by one of their kin in 2001. 7 members of the family were killed. The King who is greatly respected is their first who unified the whole of Nepal (back then, it must have been northern India; but nevertheless…). The whole trip to Durbar Square took less than 2 hours. Maybe with a guide, it must have been more informative; I have never trusted guides much though. Overall, definitely worth a visit.
# Thamel on foot
I had caught glimpses of Thamel on the bike when I was trying to figure out the way to Durbar Square. If you like shopping, then Thamel is the place to be. You will find many shops selling so many wares. The place is literally a huge market. There are great places to eat too. I went to one called Palace Restaurant and Bar, considered by many as the best vegetarian restaurant in Kathmandu. Their food lived up to their reputation. If it were not for a drunk Indian / Nepali woman squatting (you sit on the floor in this restaurant) beside me and speaking in the worst possible imitation of an American accent, the visit would have been heavenly. With my hunger sated, I took a walk around Thamel. The walk was short as I don’t shop much, but interesting nonetheless. The trip ended with a few souvenirs in my bag.
Back to my hotel, I was told that the next day would be a strike. Virat told me he will try and arrange a vehicle. That evening, I also dropped Virat to his home. It is situated a few minutes away from the hotel. The view of the hills from there is quite appeasing. As usual, the road to his home was in terrible shape. A visit to the ATM was desirable as I was in need of Nepali Rupees; I had run out of them buying the souvenirs in Thamel. After a good night’s sleep (& after reading few pages from an interesting book I picked up from Virat’s table – “Dangerous Wives and Sacred Sisters – The Nepali Women”), my final day in Nepal dawned. The vehicle Virat had arranged was a 10 seat mini-bus; there was nothing else available. I had to pay twice the fare or be stranded in Nepal for another 3 days. The decision was easy – it took me less than 1 minute to load my luggage in. The road to the airport was devoid of any vehicular movement – only people walking around. No dust and no pollution. As an American passenger on my flight back to Delhi put it (pardon me for the language; it is a literal transcript) – he sad; “Today was my favorite day in Kathmandu. There should be a strike everyday there. The place is so much better without those f****** vehicles on the street”. I politely agreed.
I was on Indigo again (6E 032) and my visit to Nepal had come to an end.
Travelling to new destinations is an amazing experience. You get to see monuments, meet new people, see a new way of living and get to eat different food. All that apart, there is something greater that travels have in store – it teaches you many lessons. It teaches you to acclimatize with a new environment, it teaches you to face your fears, it pushes you further, makes you stronger and at the end of it all – it makes you more humble.
There is no better teacher than a “travel”. Not all learning comes from books – the Himalayas look far more magnificent than what a picture of it would show you; the melody of the music in Pashupatinath can’t be ‘heard’ from the lines I have written above; and nor can one appreciate the mastery of the Nepali artisans by reading a history book. One needs to experience them in their flesh. So, in this short journey we call ‘life’; let us learn all that we can. You never know, learnings of this life may be of great help in our next.