Bhaktapur, Nepal
27° 40' N 85° 24' E
Sep 27, 2009 11:46
Distance 11km

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Two Great temples of Kathmandu & Bhaktapur City

Met our tour guide for the 'Road to Delhi' portion of my trip... other persons meant to be joining the tour current out river rafting ... lucky them.  His name is Tenzing Sherpa and he comes from the Everest region (his surname may even have been a giveaway)

Loving Nepal/Kathmandu - friendly people, don't hassle you too much - No means No.  There is also a genuine juxtaposition of charm... amongst the ramshackle tumbledown buildings you find the most beautiful wooden carvings on balconies and doors. 

On the agenda today were the Buddha Bodhnathath Stupa and Hindu Pashupatinath Temple on the Eastern side of Kathmandu.  As it was just me, Tenzing whisked me off on his motorbike through the morning traffic.  The streets were earily quiet with shops closed as of course, this was the main festival day when most Hindus are at the temples or at home feasting with their families.

First stop at PASHUPATINATH Temple, the oldest and holiest pilgrimage site for Hindus in Nepal.  Located on the holy Bagmati Rver there are many Hindu Holy men (Sadhurs) meditating, pilgrims bathing and funeral pyres in the ghats.  The ghats are located downstream from the temple, where the bodies of the dead are cremated and ashes put in the river.  Slightly upriver is the main temple, where you can see women sometimes emerging with a basket of lotus flowers and other offerings and placing this also in the river.  The body of someone newly passed away was wrapped in orange cloth next to the river and below the temple, while a holy man bathed in the river and blessed the body.  There was not much sound, sometimes the sound of a bell, but many many people owing to the Festival day of Durga the destroyer (who commands blood - hence the animal sacrifices).  Monkeys galore all over the place and several smaller temples to make your prayers in - with a bell to used to announce your presence to the gods. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and many women apparently come to ask for husbands and children (thought perhaps I should give it a go!).  Unfortunately the temple was attacked recently in the 20th Century by Muslims and the statues destroyed, so no non-Hindis are allowed to enter!  Another interesting fact is that most Hindi's are vegetarian and any leather items, such as shoes or belts, MUST be left out of the temple complex.

After watching the monkeys on the banks of hte Bagmati river, we headed off to BODHNATH STUPA, one of 7 World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley.  It is enormous to behold... 40m wide as high.  With many colourful prayer flags, a golden 'umbrella' at the top of the spire and Buddha's all seeing eyes, it is one of the Biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, with a few temples surrounding the stupa and monks at prayer in the small garden at the base.  Interestingly enough also some Gambling taking place amongst groups of young men.... reminded me very much of James!

Tenzing then negiated a taxi rate for me to get out of Kathmandu, 30mins and 13km East to BHAKTAPUR, another World Heritage site know as Nepal's ancient city of culture and art.  Many of the buildings are Medieval and the locals know it as 'The city of culture'.  It's pretty big, the 3rd largest city in the Kthamandu Valley, but has several medieval squares dating back to the Malla Kingdom in 15th Century, when this city served as the capital of the region.  Definitely an artists paradise, the Durbar square in Bhaktapur is far quieter and peaceful, with the ability to wander between the many temples and museums without much hassle or threat of getting run over.  The city is also know as 'the town of devotees' owing to the number of temples and lies on the old trade route to Tibet.  In the main square, popping into the Hindu Temple dedicated to the goddess Durga, there were signs of animal sacrifice and peaking into the main templ complex (which we weren't allowed to enter) there were several carcasses of bull calves with heads missing... but no blood which had naturally been collected for religious purposes.  On leaving the square a number of bull calves were being lead into the temple to meet their fate (or privilege?)

On a bumpy journey back to Kathmandu, I noticed a 2nd past-time that Kathandu children love alongside kite-flying... SWINGING!  The locals had contrived to create an enormous swing in a field by tieing together three tall pieces of strong bamboo to create a pretty sturdy swing. Actually just found out that the kite flying and swinging are in light of the festival... where you need to get off the ground.  So in many rural areas where they have space, they are building swings and in the cities, they are taking up kite flying :-)

Photos / videos of "Two Great temples of Kathmandu & Bhaktapur City":

Holy Bagmati River with Ghats of Pashupatinath Temple to the right Body being cremated on one of the several ghats Stairs up towards the lesser temples and walkway along the Holy River Monkeys bathing on the rivers edge at the pashupatinath temple Body of newly dead wrapped in orange cloth ready to be blessed.  The man dressed in white is in mourning and will continue to where a white shirt for several weeks. Row of smaller temples for individual prayers, where women can pray to Shiva for a husband or children One of the smaller temples up the hill, with the Bull of Shiva to the left denoting the temple as dedicated to Shiva, and a bell to ring to let him know you are present Me ringing the 'doorbell' to prayers Mother monkey with baby and temples, in the background Mother monkey comforts baby after disowning it briefly for biscuits The main temple of Pashupatinath Monkey with main temple of Pashupatinath in the background The equivalent of a Monastery in Buddhism, the living quarters for the Holy Men Mother monkey suckling her babe with temple complex in background Holy man bathing in the Bagmati River getting ready to bless the body wrapped in orange cloth Holy man bathing in Bagmati River in preparation to bless the body wrapped in orange cloth Smaller temples along the river View of main Pashupatinath temple MOVIE: Holy man bathing while ladies bring the offerings from the temple and scatter into the Holy River... a monkey makes a star appearance as well! Temple next to the Bagmati Holy river with Holy Man worshiping.  The golden spire represents the moon (desire) and the sun below (action) First Siting of Bodhnath Stupa from the entrance, rising up behind two tall buildings Me in front of Bodhnath Stupa with the eyes of buddha upon me! Worshippers walking clockwise around the stupa and spinning the Tibetan prayer columns a Larger tibetan prayer column Bell outside a Buddhist temple opposite the entrance to the stupa a Monk medidates next to a large tibetan prayer column MOVIE The entrance to the Bodhnath Stupa with devotees at prayer Buddha bells with Bodhnath stupa in the background An incense burner at the foot of the stupa with statues to either side of horse-riders Buddha's eyes look down on us Detail of design on incense burner Me in front of the incense burner Close up of the Buddha eyes and spire Buddhist monks chanting in the garden at the base of the Stupa Me again in front of the stupa - picture taken by very friendly german tour group One of the two temples around the Stupa One of the Buddha Temples from the Stupa entrance, note the incense smoke obscuring the view slightly MOVIE: Devotees adding incense offerings to the burner The biggest tibetan prayer column I have yet seen in the Temple opposite stupa entrance View of Stupa from Temple balcony Mural painting on Temple ceiling Murals decorating the entrance to the temple opposite the stupa containing 7 statues of Buddha and the Protector, monks stand at the entrance to welcome you in View of the stupa from temple roof Young girls being annointed on the festival day at Bodhnath Stupa These young girls are being annointed as 'Virgin goddesses' within their houeholds (or Kumari'.  It is a great honour, shosen for their beauty, fair complexion and no markings on the skins Their feet are annointed and a tiktoi\ik placed on their forehead.) Young girl whispers a secret into her friends ear during the ceremony The main stupa and smaller stupa with Buddha eyes and symbols Young men playing Gambling game in Bodhnath Stupa Gambling game a bit like roulette - with 6 symbols on the cloth, the bucket contains dice with the same symbols. Y ou place a bet on a symbols or symbols coming up and the 'banker' rolls the dice.  Seen in many places with Young men playing in the streets, particularly at festival time Makeshift swing from 3 long & strong bamboo poles The Lion Gate Entrance to Bhaktapur Durbar Square built AD 1696.  Guarded by huge statues of lions and stone images of the dreadful aspect of Shiva and Ugrachandi (Consort of Shiva in fearful manifestation) Temple at entrance to Bhaktapur Durbar Square Statue of Ugragadi - The cnsort of Shiva in 'dreadful manifestation' First View of Bhaktapur Durbar Square 1 Palace of 55 Windows - now an Art Gallery One of the statues on the palace depicting demon eating monster! Lions standing guard outside temple Carving of dancing virgin in rafters of temple Pillar with Hanuman statue at the top Golden Gate Entrance to Kali temple, said to be the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen in the entire world The Golden Gate entrance is mounted with the figure of Kali, the ferosious form of the Divine Mother (Durga) who defeated the demons and depicts death goat tethered to a temple in Bhaktapur Square with statue of lion in the foreground Carving of a bronze lion Hindu worshippers climbing steps to make an offering and prayer One of the many bells to announce your prayers to Shiva Sacred pool inside Kali Hindu Temple Another temple with beautiful carvings Lions at the entrance to the opposite side of the square Beautifully carved entrance to residential square One of the many curio shops in Bhaktapur One of the many shops selling art Painting of Himalayan Trek Charcoal sketch of Nepalese girl carrying her baby brother five tiered Nyataponla temple in Taumadhi Square 1702 AD Five tiered temple front on view Detail of statue at bottom of Nyataponla temple Me at top of 5 tiered Nyataponla temple Seriously ramshackle building just off the square, hit by 1934 earthquake The soaring heights of Nyataponla temple from the square Three tiered temple to left of Nyatoaponla temple Three tiered temple on opposite side of Taumadhi Square View of Kathmandu hills from the top of the temple View of Thaumadi square from restaurant where I had lunch Me on temple steps Me on temple steps 2 Me on temple steps with sacrificial cows Bull calfs being driven into Kali temple as sacrifical offering to the goddess at festival time