August 16: Kathmandu
Bhaktapur and Patan
We had breakfast and at 9:30 am we got picked up by the driver and our guide, Mrs. Joshi. We drove
towards Bhaktapur. The traffic was pretty bad, so we left the main road and made a slight detour
through Thimi. We went to the northeastern entrance point of Bhaktapur. Our guide wasn't into
walking that much...
we got our tickets and then walked slowly down the road towards the Tachupal Tole. In one of teh
side alleys behind Tachupal Pole is the famous Peacock Window. Opposite it, there is a shop which
makes rice paper. We went inside and were explained the different steps of how to make rice paper. It
was quite interesting. Even more interesting was the private collection of the shop owner's Nepali and
Tibetan arifacts and antiques which he showed us. Among the stuff he had were numerous beautiful
window wood carvings. We bought a few Christmas Cards made out of rice paper and left. Then we
went into a couple of stores and Marc bought some more gifts.
We continued our walk through Bhaktapur towards the Taumadhi Tole. At this Tole, there is the 5
story high Nyatapola Temple, built in 1702. The stairway leading up the temple is flanked by
guardian figures. We continued our walk towards the Pottery Square. Last October, this square was
full of wheat, but this time, it was full of pottery. We looked at some of the pottery creations and then
proceeded towards Durbar Square.
At Durbar Square, we went through the Golden Gate into the 55 Window Palace. Non-Hindus,
however, are not allowed to enter the Inner Courtyard of the Palace. We lingered a while longer at
Durbar Square and looked at its magnificent structures and then finally left through the Western
Gate. Marc and I walked a little further to the Naypokhu Pokhari and then down to the parking area
where we met our driver again.
Next stop was Patan. On the way over there, it started to rain. Getting close to Patan, we first
stopped at the Mahabouddha Temple (Temple of 1000 Buddhas), which is outside of the Patan
Durbar Square area. This temple was built in the South Indian style. It originally dated from the 16th
century, but was completely destroyed during the 1934 earthquake and completely rebuilt. The
temple takes its name from the terracotta tiles whith which it is covered, each bearing an image of
Buddha.
Then went to Durbar Square. According to Lonely Planet, the concentrated mass of temples at the
Patan Durbar Square is the "most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in
Nepal". Despite the bad weather, the square was full of tourists, many more than I had seen at any of
the other cultural sights in the Kathmandu Valley.
Our first stop was the Mul Chowk, the central courtyard of the Royal Palace. Then we went into the
courtyard of the Patan museum through the Golden gate. We also visited all other temples and sat
for a while on top of the Vishwanath Temple and waited for the rain to subside. Later, we walked
over to the Golden Temple which is located outside of Durbar Square. In the courtyard of this
Temple is a small temple with a golden roof which gave that temple its name.
We went back to the hotel where we had a late lunch and then rested a bit. We met with Bharat at the
Thangka shop early evening where we picked up Marc's thangka. Bharat joined us for dinner at the
Trattoria Nuevo Marco Polo, which was fast becoming my favorite restaurant in Katmandu. We had
a great dinner and then went back to the hotel.