August 15: Kathmandu
Bodnath, Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath
As we were not going to be picked up until 10 am, Marc and I stayed in bed until 8:30 and then had
breakfast. Samir came at 10 am and introduced us to our guide, Mrs. Indira Joshi. We got into a car
and tried to get to Bodnath first. It was not easy as there were bandhs all over the city, including one
right on that main road leading to Bodnath. But we made it.
It rained some while we were visited. We went into a couple of the monasteries which surround the
stupa. Then we went through the shops. Marc finally found a gift for his girlfriend back home, one of
the many gifts he found in Kathmandu.
Bodnath is the religious center for the Tibetans living in Nepal. The stupa is the largest in Nepal and
was built in the 14th century. Around the stupa are several monasteries and lots of Tibetan shops.
Outside of Bodnath, we found our driver and we went to a close-by courtyard where he had parked
the car. There was no traffic on the main road in front of Bodnath because of the bandhs in the area.
Also, our driver now had a TOURIST sign on the front and back of the little car, so we made it
through everywhere without any problems. Our next stop was Pashupatinath. I did not make it to
there last year, so I was looking forward to it.
Pashupatinath is Nepals most important Hindu Temple. It is located on the banks of the Bagmati
River which is a holy river. The Pashupatinath Temple, which is the centerpiece, is devoted to Shiva,
the creator and destroyer according to Hindu belief. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the actual
Pashupatinath Temple, but can explore the area around the Temple. Inside the Pashupatinath
Temple is a golden statue of Nandi, Shiva's bull and also a four-headed statue of Pashupati, the
peaceful version of Lord Shiva. Around the temple complex, lots of hawkers and lots of Holy Men,
or Sadhus.
The banks of the Bagmati River at Pashupatinath are a popular cremation place and we saw several
cremations taking place during our visit. Our guide explained the cremation details to us as well as
the history of Pashupatinath, but we had a hard time listening as we were constantly approached by
vendors and hawkers. How many mandalas and tiger balm can one person buy??? But it was great
Our last stop of the day was Swayambhunath. When we left Pashupatinath, it was around 1 pm and
the bandhs were apparantly over, so the traffic chaos was complete. We were on the Ring Road, but it
took us forever to get to the other side of town. Instead of dropping us off at the bottom of the stairs,
our driver drove all the way to the top. I am sure our lady guide in her beautiful Nepali dress was not
too keen on climbing those 365 stairs in the heat and humidity of the day....
We had an enjoyable visit up there. The weather had improved significantly and it was quite nice and
the views of Kathmandu and the Valley were good. The stupa at Swayambhunath, or Monkey
Temple, was built in the 5th century, the two white temples flanking the stupa date from 1646 and the
stairway dates back to the 17th century and was built by the Malla Kings. We explored the complex
for quite a while and then went down the 365 stairs. Our driver was waiting at the bottom of the stairs
and brought us back to our hotel.
Back at the hotel, Marc and I had a late lunch at the Coffee Shop. Then we spend a couple of hours
relaxing in the room. Later, we went over to Thamel and then to Bharat's house. At Bharat's house,
when we arrived, there was no electricity in the neighbourhood, but dinner was ready anyway and we
had a delightful evening and dinner with his family. The food was excellent. Purna did a great job of
making it not too spicy for me. At one time I was wondering: We ate little chicken wings. I was trying
to find out where to put the bone and watched where Purna would put the bone of his chicken wing
he was just eating. Well, he did not put it anywhere as he ate the bone.....I asked him about that and
we were all laughing!! What an enjoyable evening with Bharat's family. It is great to have him and his
family as friends.
Later in the evening, Purna brought Marc back to our hotel on the back of his motorcycle while
Bharat walked me back to the hotel. It was late, around 10:30 pm when we got back. Another good
night sleep.