Last phase – Khatmandu
An early morning flight – well relatively early, 0915. At the airport by 7am. Another time consuming practise is the Indian obsession with screening bags, people and bodies, and not just once. Once to get into the collection area and then once to get into the boarding area, and this is for every flight not just Domestics. So what appeared to be early really wasn’t. So back to the Delhi International, it’s almost our second home! But the real pain in the arse was the immigration process at Kathmandu. Line up to access the Visa machine – figure it out, get a Visa receipt, take it to the Bank to pay for it. Carry your embarkation card, passport and Visa receipt and then stand in another line to see a man who stamps your passport if everything is in order. Ninety minutes to the main door.
Kathmandu, certainly isn’t the world of youtube backpacking as we have seen so far. It’s cosmopolitan, reasonably modern and always under construction – that’s what regular earthquakes can do for a City. Staying in a swanky hotel, this would put you off backpacking for life, So we had arrived.
First place was a Temple area occupied by monkeys. They are reputed to be fierce and nasty and should not be approached Again the various Shrines were busy – people lined up to give offerings. Some shrines people just prayed at, at others there was a complete ritual. Buy or bring food that the God would like, hand it to an attendant step in or stand before the God, pray and be blessed. The food would stay until there was a pile of it in the Shrine and then the attendant would take it to an incinerator to be recycled into the lifecycle. Moving onto the Royal Palace complex and Durbar Square(wiki ref) where we stopped off for lunch at a Pizza Pizza place. This Square was one large market selling the same Tibetan/Nepali crafts – lots of Brass and Kukris.
This last place was the Patan Durbar Square (wiki ref) This place was really active with believers as the Daishan Festival (wiki ref)is in full swing as we visit. In fact in one House we visited as we were leaving the believers were coming in to see two goats sacrificed. Back to the hotel and the evening meal, wondering where the Kathmandu of youtube was.
10am next morning we piled into the car and proceeded to the Pashupatinath Temple complex (wiki ref). We did not enter as only Hindus are allowed entry. But as the complex sits on one side of the Bagmati river we watched from the other side. Good job I had my zoom lens today! What we saw was the stuff of ‘National Geographic’. This place is a mini Varanisi. A place where open cremation is practised. We entered the site and walked to the river. As we approached we could see smoke. Getting closer the smoke was coming from funeral pyres, at least three in various states of progression. At least two more were in the process of being prepared to cremate. The most riveting sight was that of a body being prepared for cremation and in this process the body is set on the side of the river – feet in the water and family members pay their last respects. Water is lifted from the river and dripped onto the body’s face. Some people also washed the body’s feet. After all the respects had been paid the body is then carried to the Pyre. A constant process of recycling. These rituals take place 24/7.
Next stop Boudhanath (wiki ref) area where one of the largest Stupas can be found. This Shrine is surrounded by smaller ones all surrounded by believers offering food and candles to the Gods. Four storey buildings also constructed in a circular fashion surround the Stupa like a City Wall. Again these buildings contain restaurants and bangle shops.
Moving on to where the ladies wanted to be – a shopping area. One seatmate on the plane said “go to ‘Thamal’ for the best shopping” so we did and we discovered the Kathmandu of youtube. Skinny roads tons of shops and plenty of tourists looking for bargains. At last shopping Nirvana.
So ends the travelling – back to Delhi and then to Toronto two legs of air travel and twenty-five hours on the road.
Some other pics: