Letters from Nepal XXV

Monday, July 28, 2014

We went to Dubar Square close to 6 pm last night.  It is a world heritage monument site. It is a large complex of temples that are Hindu as well as Buddhist. The majority of them are decaying but you can see the pagoda style exterior as well as the fine details carved into the upper levels of wood.

Many festivals are held in Dubar Square. Within the Hindu religion there seems to be at least 2-3 festivals held each month. Tonight men dressed in orange tops and shorts with red tikis were driving around in the back of pickups with music blaring and shouting and chanting. They stopped at some of the small Hindu temples on the street to light candles. This area was the original area of the palaces during the 1700s. We arrived at Dubar Square later than we wished. Once we entered the square we were quickly eyed up by hawkers, self-appointed tourist guides and, we are sure, roving gangs of pickpockets.

We did not stay long as we were getting uncomfortable with the attention we were getting and it was dusk. We walked back through the meandering roads to try to find the Thamel district. Eventually we hailed a cab as the streets and vendors all look the same and we could not find any landmarks that we recognized.

Today we went to another temple complex in the city of Bhaktapuar. It is known as one of the oldest cultural cities for the Newlai culture. The buildings are from the 8th century. Over the centuries, the locals built walls surrounding the city centre, Dubar Square.  Many of the building are in great shape. Peacocks and elephants can be seen quite sharply carved into the wood. Some of the larger temples have been carved from one tree which must have been huge during their life. There were not as many tourists here as it is about 45 minutes from central Kathmandu. We were pleasantly surprised. Tourist guides, although very pleasant, follow you around trying to get themselves hired. It can be tiresome but we also realize they are trying to make a wage. You decline help from one and then another one appears. Even children will introduce themselves and ask if you would like to help pay for their education.


Dubar square

         Dubar Square


Magnificent art work can be seen in the structures. Lit candles can be viewed through the lattice windows looking into the Hindu temple. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple while the Buddhist Temples are open to anyone as long as culture and custom is observed.  Marigolds, flower petals and wax intermingle along with the smoky smell of sandalwood. This incense is much stronger than what we get at home.

From here we went to the Great Buddha Stupa. This Stupa is the most famous in all of Nepal for the all-seeing eyes that decorate the white dome.  It is 123 ft. in diameter and over 43 meters high. Prayer flags flap elegantly in the wind from the top. This Stupa is of great importance to Buddhists from the Himalayans, Tibet, Nepal and India. If possible, at least once in a lifetime the pilgrimage here is taken. This Stupa is located in Boudanath.

Many monks and lamas were circumventing the Stupa, spinning prayer wheels as they said their mantras, “Om Mani Padre Om.”  At night, butter lamps are lit and a beautiful glow surrounds the temple. Those visiting are thought to be given long life and safety from famine and plagues.

 Entrance way     Entranceway 
                                          Entrance way                                              



The car ride from one temple to the other took over an hour and a distance of less than 3 kms.  The traffic is horrendous. The taxis here are like a Mini Cooper with 5 of us, including the driver, squished in. There is no air except the toxic fumes which waft in the window. Teeth, eyes and skin actually feel gritty while rivers of sweat drip down into the carpeted seats. Most of the locals have surgical-like masks covering their mouths and noses to keep out dirt and contaminants. Incense is burned everywhere. Couple this with heat in the mid-30s and you have an idea of what we are up against while travelling.  We are a bit leery of drinking too much water as we try hard not to have to resort to public bathrooms.

This part of Kathmandu has been an adventure but not one we would recommend to anyone to seek. This city is full of poverty, pollution and grime. It is extremely overpopulated and traffic like nothing we have seen. Delhi was calm in comparison. On the back of trucks and buses are signs saying, "use horn.”  This really is a safety measure because with motorbikes creeping in between the traffic bikes and humans, it saves lives.  The person coming from behind lays on the horn until they are past whatever vehicle they were trying to get around.  Tonight we will spend our last night venturing back into the Thamel region of the city. We will try not to get lost in the ever winding maze of streets.

We leave tomorrow for our final flights home.  We will be departing to Delhi and arrive around 3 pm.  The three Canadians leave for Frankfurt, then Toronto at 2:45 am Wednesday morning.   Shauna departs at 8 am.

We are hoping that the clouds break up for the flight. Due to the mountain range, flights are cancelled daily if it becomes too foggy or cloudy. When we flew from here to Pokhara 2 weeks ago, all flights for the day, which were 7, had been cancelled except for ours as the skies cleared up enough to safely travel the distance.

It has been a wonderful learning experience and we each have benefited in our own way.  Travelling does give you an appreciation for family, country and conveniences. We realize that we are not all born equal. Equality is all dependent upon the country you are fortunate to be born into.  People are the same the world over with regards to how they wish to be treated and for the most part, the wishes they have for their children.  So we celebrate our sameness and we celebrate the qualities which allow us to overlook the differences.