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Kathmandu Thamel

shrines and other interesting places, Garden of Dreams

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September 19th Kathmandu, Nepal

We left Heathrow on the evening of the 18th and landed in Mumbai, India (+4.30 hours) early in the morning of the 19th. After a short wait (and loads of extra security even though we were only transit) we caught the flight to Kathmandu. Although we were not sitting together we still had great views of the Himalayas as we flew (and the weather was quite clear). We could see the whole range from Mt Kanchenjunga in the east to Annapurna Massif in the west.
Landing at mid morning we sorted out the immigration visas (luckily I had downloaded the form and filled it in along with fee for a multi-entry visa) so we paid at the desk, then queued again to get the visa stamped. Then, ANOTHER layer of security checking (because the previous 4 weren’t enough) just to collect our bags! And finally we emerged into Kathmandu. Achut from Manakamana Treks & Expeditions https://www.manakamanaexpedition.com met us and we drove quickly (an unusual occurrence as it later transpired) to our hotel, the excellent Hotel Vaishali in Thamel District, Thamel Bhagawati Marg, Kathmandu 44600 http://www.hotelvaishali.com Thamel has been the centre of the tourist industry in Kathmandu for over four decades starting with the hippie movement. Its narrow streets are lined with small shops selling everything from food to clothes, cakes and pastries to music, handicrafts, money changers and hotels. The area has some very good restaurants. Although prices tend to be higher than non-tourist areas, the food hygiene is a lot better. In 2011, Thamel became a full Wi-fi zone, the first in Nepal. Stepping into Kathmandu is a pupil- dilating experience, a riot of sights, sounds and smells of sensory overload. Whether barrelling through traffic- jammed alleyways of old town in a rickshaw, marvelling at medieval temples or dodging trekking touts in Thamel; Kathmandu is an amazing place.
We had a brief hour’s sleep, then set off to explore. Thamel is a great area, mainly pedestrianised (apart from the omnipresent rickshaws) with a wealth of exciting shops. I had downloaded a self-directed Thamel tour, which seemed like a good way to introduce ourselves to the capital of Nepal.

Thamel Heritage Walk 1
! Start at Vaishali and walk straight ahead to Chaksibari Marg, where you go left.
! At the first fork, take the left continuing down Chaksibari Marg, past Hot Breads bakery.
e7af1410-b628-11eb-8862-456011994f7c.png! Continue down this sloping road until you arrive at a small red fence about a foot off the ground to the right. This small unassuming fenced in area is unique in Kathmandu. It contains a Kumari Shrine. It's very rare to come across such a shrine, but it is barely identifiable and a little underwhelming.
! Return to Hot Breads, then turn right out of the pedestrian area. A few minutes along here brings you to the end of the pedestrian area at busy Thamel Marg street. In front is a large open compound filled with new looking shrines. This is Chhwasal Ajima Sthan, dedicated to the goddess Ajima. This is a great place to familiarise yourself with Hindu gods as there are many of them along the courtyard walls. If you really want to see a small shrine the next section leads you to one.
! Continue straight ahead to wide Tridevi Sadak road, past Fire & Ice Pizza to Tri Devi Temples.
Tri Devi is one of the most passed by yet lesser known temple areas in Kathmandu. The large courtyard houses 3 temples to the goddesses Dakshinkali, Manakamana, Jawalamai, all renovated in 2015/16 and in very good condition. Above many are wooden roof struts with typical Newari erotic carvings.
! Almost opposite is the Garden of Dreams, well worth a visit. Garden of Dreams (Swapna Bagaicha) www.gardenofdreams.org Rs200/110. 9am-10pm, beautifully restored, serene enclave 2 min walk from Thamel. Field marshal Kaiser Shamser (1892–1964), whose palace the garden complements, built it in the 1920s after visiting Edwardian estates in England, using funds won from his father (PM) in an epic Rs100,000 game of cowrie shells. The gardens and pavilions have been restored in detail including the original gate, marble inscription from Khayam’s Rubaiyat, fountains, ponds,and a quirky hidden garden. Only three of six (named for 6 Nepali seasons) pavilions left. Dwarika’s hotel runs Kaiser Cafe here.
! Return to Chhwasal Ajima Sthan, turn right up Thamel Marg and continue until you get to another small junction with a street to the right which has a rather steep incline. Turn onto this street and there are two small unassuming temples to the left; Hanuman and Ganesh Shrineskathmandu-nepal_39750384003_o.jpg.
Both shrines are usually open with locals keeping a watch. The first, dedicated to Hanuman, is difficult to make out and often confused with Vishnu. The second shrine is clearly Ganesh. There is also a small Shiva shrine here.
! Carry on north up Thamel Marg to reach a brass roofed single story temple called Bhagwati Mandir, one of the most famous temples in Thamel. Inside is a shrine to the goddess Bhagwati, a fierce protective form of the mother goddess Durga/ Parvati, especially popular in Nepal and northern India.
! Walk to the top of Thamel Marg where it ends in a T-section with Lekhnath Sadak road. Straight ahead is Kali Mata Mandir shrine. Turn left and walk for a few metres to where Amrit Marg street goes right. Turn down Amrit Marg and quickly see a tiny lane going right. Take this and it opens up to your right into a huge impressive Hiti known as Ghairi Dhara Hiti. A hiti is a natural water source developed into a public fountain.
! Retrace your steps to Kali Mata Mandir, and at the mandir turn right up pavement adjoining Samakhusi Marg until you get to a fenced in area housing Shiva and Ganesh Shrines (Shree Nateshwor Temple to your left
Inside this fenced in area is small park of shrines. The most outstanding is the red Ganesh shrine to the left, although the main Shiva shrine straight ahead is the central focus. If the main door is open then it's worth stepping inside this compound as the shrines inside are very well preserved.
! Return down Thamel Marg as far as Bhagwati Mandir, then turn right into Bhagwati Marg street, which bends around a 90° corner back to the hotel.
As we came back down Thamel Marg, marvelling at the electrical “engineering” ie, how many cables can you (probably illegally) run off each pylon, we decided to pop into some shops. We bought two lovely quality cashmere scarves and promised ourselves some more when we returned from Bhutan. As it was now dusk, we returned for a brief rest at the hotel, before heading out to find somewhere to eat. A short walk down Chaksibari Marg we found a large courtyard restaurant, The Northfield Cafe and Jesse James Bar, https://www.northfieldcafe.net which served Nepali, Indian and Tibetan food. We had fried cheeseball and chicken momo starters (really nice), then Steve had a Nepali set menu (a sort of mix of curries), while I enjoyed a Tibetan thukpa (a spicy veg and noodle broth). A lovely cold Everest beer finished us well off! Whilst eating we had lovely live background Nepali music, quite mellow.
Finally, although not late, we were very tired and headed pretty quickly to bed.

Posted by PetersF 11:43 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal thamel

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