Discover Nepal: First two days – Kathmandu

A 10-day trip to discover Himalayas home

OH! How I fell in love with this magical place.

This visit to Nepal was my second time traveling to Asia. The first being a trip to Jordan (here). After ten stunning days spent here, I might say that I left a piece of my soul in Nepal. I hope that I can get it back one day.

Downtown Kathmandu

The first day of our trip we spent in Kathmandu, jet-lagged and super tired. Our guide welcomed us with traditional Nepali gifts: flowers, praying necklace, and with an awesome Nepali traditional dinner and drinks.

Between our arrival to the hotel and the dinner, we had some time to squeeze in city sightseeing and walking around the streets nearby the hotel.

I found it very intriguing and heartwarming that most of the people had a genuine smile. Even if for the Western countries, Nepal is considered a poor country, for me is one of the richest I have been to. Why?

Despite their financial condition, people look truly happy when they smile, they do it with their whole body. Kids are playing all over town, their laughter can be heard all day. The people here are very welcoming with the tourists; even the food they make is simply amazing and healthy.

It seems the camera I brought may freak people out. After I took this picture, I felt bad and tried to be more mellow using it.

And finally the dinner, which was a blast. It was my 1st time trying Nepali foods and drinks and also my 1st time to experience the traditional folklore of this amazing country.

I had the pleasure to learn the meaning of their popular dances and experience their gorgeous choreography.

Kathmandu Temples

The second day, after we ate breakfast, packed everything and we went back on the road to visit the amazing Ancient City of Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Ignoring the craziness and chaos of the traffic, I might say that Kathmandu is a city of contrasts, a melting pot of ancient and new, of commerce and architecture and of young and old. Once our bus stopped, I couldn’t wait to see this new world that was displayed in front of my eyes. Not sure where was my focus more, on the ancient temples or on the people.

Our first stop was Patan Durbar Square.

As a fun fact, Patan Durbar Square, situated in the heart of the city, consists of enchanting mélange of palace buildings, artistic courtyards, and graceful pagoda temples, belonging to the medieval period 15th to 17th century.

People are coming here from all corners of the country and the world to meditate, chill, socialize or to sell Tibetan bowls, mandalas, prayer necklaces, jewelry, clothes, fabrics, pottery, etc.

The former Royal Palace complex and its surroundings provide a very good example of ancient Newari architecture. To the west of the complex, there is a dozen of wooden temples of various sizes and styles.

Accordingly with Wikipedia, along with these palaces, the square surrounds quadrangles, revealing courtyards and temples. It is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace.

Krishna Mandir, Nepal’s finest piece of stone architecture built by Siddhi Narsingh Malla in 1635 AD. It is a very imaginative architectural masterpiece, a standing example of Newar craftsmanship in stone. It is made out of a single stone and has three floors. The main shrine is on the first floor which contains the images of Lord Krishna with his two consorts. The beautiful carvings depict the scenes and events of the two great Hindu epics- the Ramayan and the Mahabharat.

This old building, jammed between gleaming brass shops just southwest of Asan Tole, looks decrepit at first glance. Look closer and you’ll notice some fabulously elaborate woodcarvings, depicting beaked monsters and a tiny Tibetan protector, holding a tiger on a chain like he’s taking the dog for a walk. Look also for the turn-of-the-century plaques depicting marching troops on the building to the left and the ornately carved entryway just below it.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the most charming architectural masterpieces of the valley as it highlights some of the finest medieval arts of Nepal. The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other marvelous architectural showpieces: Lion Gate, the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, Bhairavnath Temple, Dattatreya Square Picture Gallery, the Golden Gate, the Batsala Temple, Nyatapola Temple, Potter’s Square and the Bell of Barking Dogs. The centerpiece is the 55 Window Palace built by King Yakshya Malla in the 17th century.

Besides the stunning architecture, Bhaktapur Durbar Square offers the possibility to discover old types of craftsmanship and how are they done: from potters to carpenters, jewelers to the fine weaving of different materials and carpets. 

After this sightseeing, we had a crazy drive to Nagarkot, where the magnificent Everest and Lantang region can be seen, Annapurna and many other mountains from the Himalayan range (here).

How to get there: The GPS coordinates for

Entrance fees: None.

Gear-up:

  • Since is a city sightseeing, anything comfortable will do good, wear lose decent  clothes because of the heat and make sure you are hydrating yourself
  • BRING WATER, I usually carry camelback or Nalgene bottles
  • And as a photographer, I took only my Canon EOS Mk 2 with 16-35 mm USM IS2 f2.8 lenses and my 70-200 mm f2.8 USM lenses
  • The whole day trip map is here: https://goo.gl/maps/Xmpt1o7FUC72

FYI:

  • Since is a city, the streets are busy and the traffic is usually high. So be careful while crossing the streets, because the drivers are not usually stopping for pedestrians.
  • Have no expectations about this place, come with an open mind.
  • I would advise to dring bottled water instead of a tap one.

Photo: Diana C.

Text: Diana C.

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