September 14, 2008:
Kathmandu and the
Indra Jatra Festival
At around 4:30 am I could not go back to sleep anymore, but I stayed in bed until about 7 am. Then got
dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. There were hardly any guests at the hotel (something which
would change after I got back from trekking) and I was the only one having breakfast. There were a
couple of computers in the lobby as well and I went online. I was prepared to hear the worst about our
house, but Marc had written me an e-mail that the house had suffered no damage at all from the
hurricane, so I was relieved and I could concentrate on my trip!
At 9 am I met with Suzi, Basant and our guide for Mustang, Yam. We went through discussing logistics
for our trek. As we were doing this as a teahouse trek, we were somewhat concerned about our ability of
finding lodges and food but we were assured by Basant and Yam that a small group like ours should not
have any problems finding a lodge or a private home where we could sleep and get food (which turned
out to be correct, we always got room in lodges). Mustang is generally offered only as camping tours
with large support personnel carrying food, camping gear etc.
After our meeting, Yam, Suzi and I
went to do some last minute shopping,
buying prayer flags and katas, the
traditional Tibetan scarfs. Then Suzi
went to Basant's office to see whether
all the medications she had ordered to
take to Mustang were complete. I went
by myself to the New Orleans Cafe for
lunch. Met up with Suzi again around
2:30 pm and we then hooked up with
Bharat took us to Durbar Square. It was
Indra Jatra Festival time. This is an important
Hindu festival in Kathmandu marking the
end of the monsoon. Indra is the Hindu rain
god and during the time of this festival
images of him as well as the White Bhairab
are everywhere. Only during this festival are
the screendoors opened which hide the
huge face of the White Bhairab at Durbar
Square. Also the Kumari plays a role in this
festival leaving her temple and leading a
procession through the streets of
Kathmandu to the face of the White Bhairab.
Here, she greets the image of Bhairab and
beer starts to pour out of his mouth. It is a
very colorful festival and we were right in the
middle of it.
We arrived at Durbar Square late in the
afternoon. It was full of people! A military
procession was in progress. People were
dancing and shouting and it was great fun.
We walked around the square and saw
beautiful mandalas made out of different
foods. Unfortunately, we did not stay for
the procession with the Kumari later that
night as both Suzi and I were tired but also
had to get ready for our trip as we were
leaving to Pokhara the next morning.
We walked back to Thamel and had dinner at La Dolce Vita. I was back at my hotel at 8 pm and fell asleep
soon. Woke up at 2:30 and could not sleep anymore. Jetlag sucks!