Nepal has been one of the most pleasing journeys of my life. Thanks to what I’ve seen and experienced on this voyage, I had the opportunity to travel into my own past. Mountains of Nepal are very high and magnificent as much. Streets are narrow and dusty but full of life. People tired and poor but really happy and peaceful. Kids are uncared and snooty nosed but very adorable. Foods are very spiced and hot but very delicious. There are no skyscrapers, plazas fancy business centres or malls in Nepal, but gorgeous temples, palace squares and stupas, bringing peace to you
It’s almost like time has stopped in Nepal. People are living the inner pureness of long past. Resembling of open air museums, palace squares, make you become one with the past. You’ll watch sun rising and setting on Himalayas with admiration. You’ll be encountered with the glory of mountains surrounding the country. You’ll also be saluted by cheerful people. One more time, “Nameste” and “Danyavard” to these beautiful people.
Nepal is populated with 28 million people. The country is the only Hindu kingdom of the world. Also, it’s one of the ten poorest countries of the world. Nepal is the only country to not to have a rectangle flag. Nepali people uses a different calendar. First week of April is the new year. Ten peaks in Himalayas that are higher than 8000 meters, are located in Nepal. The highest peak of the world, Everest (Sagarmatha) is also in Nepal. Katmandu is on 1500 meters height. It only snows once in 20 or 30 years here. There are more than 250 peaks in Nepal that are higher than 7000 meters. With continent Asia and Indian mainland compressing, Himalayas goes little bit higher every year. Saturday is official and religious holiday. For this reason, some shops and state offices are closed during Saturdays. Sunday is the first day of the week. Compulsory education is not legal in Nepal. Forty percent of the population is illiterate. Conscription is also not legal here, but some respectful hired soldiers (they also perform duties for other country armies like UK) earns almost 2200 dollars and this is an amazing value. Not all of the country but Katmandu has a serious traffic issue. If a close relative or a friend dies, one buzzcuts his hair and to limit his tears he lines under his eyelashes with red colour.
It’s hard to see cat in Nepal, you cannot see them in streets usually. That’s because cats are seen as sinister and they are not fed. Families don’t feed dogs too but dogs are very populated in the streets and they are free to wander around.
In Nepal, restaurants are not prepared beforehand. They start to cook just when the order comes, and cooking takes a good amount of time. Similar to Turkish ravioli, “momo” is a popular food and it’s very delicious. It’s made with either meat, vegetables or chicken. Also “Choupsey is a kind of noodle but is fried and very watery. As for desserts, there’s one with frying the banana called “Banana Fritter”. Local “Nepal Ice” and “Everest” beers are very tasty. “Chapati” is also very similiar to lavash, but it’s not standard bread with the meal unless you want it.
One of the three kingdom cities located in the Katmandu Valley, (Katmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur) in Katmandu, Durbar Square is at the heart of the city, as it is in the other kingdom cities. Other than Durbar Square, second tourist attraction of the city is Thamel Street. In Katmandu, life is around touristic and antique centres Thamel Street and Durbar Square. Thamel Street and the small roads on it, are full of pashmina and mask sellers countless souvenir shops, restaurants of world kitchen with alternative to every wallet, internet cafes and hotels.
Buildings in Durbar Square were registered as UNESCO Heritage site in 1979 and are protected. The Square is full of temples and architecturally important buildings.
“Kasthamandap”, “Ashok Binayak”, “Maru Tole”, “Maju Deval”, “Kumari Devi” and “Kumari Bahal” are one of these buildings. In Nepal, most popular religions are Buddhism and Hinduism.
Swayambhunath means created by itself. On a hill with a sight of Kutmandu Valley, which is believed to be sacred since long before the human existed, the temple, was built more than 2000 years ago, is in two parts, first, stupa, the main building, and second, the white big semisphere built with bricks and clay. Swayambhunath temple, is also named as monkey temple. It is the one which takes the most space out of all Buddhist temples. Monkey population is very dense here. While feeding them, be careful, as they are going to want the bag of bananas, or they may think your camera is the bag, in both way they may attack.
Worshipping is not done inside but around the building with people revolving around. On top of the semisphere, there’s a part covered with silvering and a pointy tower built with smaller and smaller circles into the top. On the four sides of this tower, the eyes of Buddha, see everything and everywhere, so that, protects Buddhists from evil and do harm.
Insides and outsides of Buddhist temples, there are pray wheels and pray flags. For their belief, as long as the wheels are turned and flags wave, in everywhere on earth, this discipline will continue to spread. In this temple, as there are smaller wheels, there’s also a giant wheel. Another temple to be located on a hill, you can watch the panorama of Katmandu and take a picture.
This giant and old Stupa, is known as the biggest Buddhist temple of the world. All across the world, (Bhutan, Tibet, India and a lot of other countries) buddhists travel here to visit this Stupa. The surrounding area is mostly of Tibatan people who fleed from China’s invasion on Tibet. So this area is known as Little Tibet. Stupa is 100 meters wide and built on an octagon base. The stupa houses pray wheels made by King of Lichichivi Mana Deva in fifth century. Its height is 36 meters. In top of the building there’s a tower with Buddha’s overseeing eyes and symbols of enlightenment process, loyalty, mercy, knowledge and nirvana. Buildings surrounding the stupa in circles are monasteries.
Just like all Buddhist temples, people are rotating around the building in clockwise, as they turn pray wheels. As this place is not a Hindu land, you can also join the worshipping and turn wheels. Around the temple, the area is full of shops. (Some of the items sold here cant be found anywhere else in Nepal, prices are very reasonable.
Pashupati means “the master of animals”. According to legends, Lord Shiva, morphed in the form of antelope to hide from gods and lived here. With two floored golden roof and silver door, the temple is one of the most beautiful examples of Newari architecture. As it’s forbidden for non-Hindus to enter inside, tourist cannot enter. But watching from Bagmati River’s other side, (the river divides temple into two parts) is possible. Bagmati River is sacred like Ganges in Varanasi, India. The temple is also a place to cremate the deads. On the bridges, bringing two sides together, noble people are cremated. Ordinary people are cremated under them.
Cremating process takes 3 hours and it’s the duty of the son of the family. The process starts with burning fire on the dead’s mouth. On the contrary to popular belief, the smell is not of the body but the woods. This smell covers the smell of dead body. The ashes are thrown into the river and it’s possible to see young people to look for golden teeth of dead bodies.
Throwing ashes here is very honourable for the dead Hindu. Old people expecting death can come and live here to wait for their death. Mourning during the ceremony is so rare as it is seen as a journey for the spirit. Male relatives of the dead, shaves all of their hair except a pinch on their back. This way they tell their mourning. In 2002, when the king died, almost every men in Nepal shaved their hair.
There are also people called “Sadu”, who do anything but worship. They don’t work, marry, bath, cut their hair or beard. The more poor Sadus are the more mature their spirit is seen and respected. Sadus are the only ones who are not being cremated and buried. They go right into heaven. (Those who let their photos taken and asks for money are not seen as “sadu” but as “quits sadu to get money”.
Near the temple, there’s a house for the elderly people. In this house, people who have no relatives and expecting death are living. They want their ashes to be thrown into Bagmati river. They live in poverty and absence. They live on helpful people’s donations. They have only one purpose left and that is to die and being cremated.
Also known as Lalitpur, the word means, the city of fine arts. The city still protects the atmosphere of Medieval Age. The borders of the city are marked with four stupas by Indian emperor Ashoko, in 250 BC. Almost the whole population of the city works on handicrafts. Patan is one of the most important cities in Asia for Buddhists. Since 7th century, pilgrims, scholars, monks from India, Tibet and China comes to visit the city. According to a legend, once, the population was consisted of only monks and craftsmen.
Patan is full of Hindu temples, Buddhist monuments, bronze figures, protector gods, perfect metal and wooden carvings. Since the old ages, the traditional production continues in Patan and today’s population’s predecessors were hired from Pekin and Tibet to decorate the cities with monasteries, pagodas and create gods’ figures.
Bungamati village :
The village still protects its original name that was given in 16th century. The name comes from the fertility god of people of Newari who lived and spoke their language here. Called with the name of the god, Rato Machhendranath Temple, is one of the sights of the village. The village is also famous for its wooden carvings and other wood products.
Another Newari village, Khokana village’s population is consisted of mostly Buddhists. As their belief requires, they don’t breed chicken or pig. The village protects is authentic habits. It’s also a heritage site. Daily lives of the villagers are spent in streets or in temples. You can get the chance to watch a typical Newari village daily rush. The village is also famous for their mustard oil.
Also known as Bhadgaon, Bhaktapur is above 1401 meters sea-level. Hosting the medieval art and architecture, the city is the place where Bertoluchi’s Little Buddha. City is in the form of mussel shell. Bhaktapur means dedicated’s town. The city’s production area is pottery and straw mats. Bearing all of the typical characteristics of a Newari town, Bhaktur, is one of the biggest treasures of Nepal.
Located in 32 kms away from Kathmandu to North, Nagarkot, is an old settlement with a landscape of sunset and sunrise on Himalayas. Also with the sight of Kathmandu Valley, Nagarkot is an important stop for Himalaya journeyers.
Changu Narayan Temple:
Witnessing a number of destructions and fires, the temple’s past goes until 4th century. Built for the god Visnu, the temple is a Unesco heritage site. With fine workship, and several god figures, the temple has a captivating atmosphere.