Monday, November 10, 2008

Exploring Kathmandu Valley (6th October)

After a hearty breakfast, we met our cheery driver who we had hired for the day to take us to some of the places of interest on the outskirts of Kathmandu. This time of the year the Nepalese are celebrating the Dashain Festival.

There was an hum throughout the city. All the women were dressed in new sari's. All the families were preparing for celebrations and sacrifice of animals. There were lots of goats, being sold, and being dragged along on ropes back to the family homes. It was obvious they knew what was happening as they were putting up considerable resistance.

Our first stop was Kopan Monastery high on hilltop on the outskirts of Kathmandu. We were lucky enough to be allowed into the main temple (after taking our shoes off) and one of the monks gave us a detailed tour which also included visiting their library where there many old Tibetan books (wrapped in cloth) were stored.

While we were there was a break in class and all the young monks (some looked as young as 8-9 years old, very cute and cheeky!) all came out of class and were running around playing in the area outside the library.

On our way to our next stop, our driver entertained us with a detailed description of the seven day ritual that he went through when he was married. He was also lamenting his teenage daughter, telling us that children of today had changed and wanted all the new and up to date equipment. The next stop was the impressive and very famous Bodhnath Stupa.

Amazing place, the structure is huge, surrounded by a circle of buildings that house monasteries and tourist shops selling, paintings, artifacts, jewelery. We spend considerable time wandering around, taking in the sights and sounds.

It was now time for lunch. Pam had a great treat organised for us, not far from the Stupa is the famous Dwarika's Hotel.

The story of Dwarika's is facinating (the link above gives details). The beautiful old hotel is the dream of Dwarika Das Shrestha who could see many of the old unique nepalese buildings were being knocked down and the art of carved windows etc was being lost. So when ever an old building was knocked down he would buy all the old pieces and saved them. Eventually he purchased the sight of the present Dwarika's hotel and started the restoration and revival of the traditional Nepalese building.

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