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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 Comments (0)

Bhutan to Nepal

over the Himalayas

September 24th Bhutan to Nepal

from left Cho Oyu, Ngozumpa Kang II 7743m(white rounded one), Lobuche Ost (lower, directly in front Gyanchung), Gyanchung Kang 7952m (higher point, mid pic), Pumo Ri 7161m, Ama Dablam 6856m, Nuptse (ridge), Everest, Lhotse, Lhotse Shar, Shartse, Peak 41, Baruntse, Kangchungtse
We left fairly promptly in the morning (after a ridiculous contretemps regarding paying £8 for a bottle of wine- their card machine didn’t work- their fault clearly, and we hadn’t been able to get Bhutanese money- not our fault as the ATMs don’t work, and they wouldn’t accept any other currency. They suggested we ask another guest to pay our bill!! Luckily our guide paid for us, but well....)

Anyhow, we drove to the airport and before long were on the flight back to Kathmandu. As we took off we saw Dobji Dzong, considered to be the first Dzong in Bhutan. The name Dogar, which means white border, is a reference to the “Five White Boulders” in the village of Dogar. The Dobji was built in 1531 by Ngawang Chogyal, the brother of Chojie Drukpa kuenley (Divine Madman). Legend has it that Ngawang Chogyal followed the spring originating below the throne of Jetsun Milarepa in Tibet to a rock located on the current location of Dobji Dzong, which was then chosen for its religious significance. Again it was a clear day and we had spectacular views of the Himalayas, including Kangchenjunga (3rd highest in world), Makalu (4th highest), Everest (highest), Lhotse (2nd highest) and Cho Oyu (5th highest), not to mention a host of other peaks. The order we passed was Kangchenjunga group (separate from the others); far away Tibet-Bhutan Himalayas (highest point Kangchendzonga) leading to the Tibetan Plain, Chomo Lonzo, Chamlang (steep right slope), Makalu (tallest point in group), Kanchungtse (Makalu II), Tutse/ Peak 6, Baruntse, Lhotse Shar-tse Lhotse, Everest, Nuptse, (Changtse, Khumbutse), Pumo Ri, Ama Dablam (inc Peak 41/ Mera), Gyachung Kang, Lobuche (lower, in front Gyachung), small gap, Tenzing Peak/ Ngozumpa Kang, Cho Oyu, gap, Kangtega (bulbous), Lunag Ri massif (Melungtse, Gaurishankar), foothills to Kathmandu.
1. Kan(g)chenjunga, the world’s 3rd highest mountain, has 5 peaks (Main, Central, South, West, Kangbachen). It rises 8,586m in the Kangchenjunga Himal part of the Himalayas. Until the 1852 Trigonometrical Survey of India, Kangchenjunga was thought to be the highest, but it became clear that Everest, then known as Peak XV, was higher. Four main glaciers radiate from the peak, Zemu (the largest), Talung, Yalung, Kangchen. There are 120 glaciers in the Kanchenjunga Himal. The name Kanchinjínga (Tibetan ཆང་ཨང་ ཆིན་ ཇིང་, Nepali कंचनजंगा), means “five treasures of the high snow" referring to its 5 peaks. Lhopo people believe the treasures (salt, gold, turquoise/precious stones, sacred scriptures, invincible armour/ ammunition, grain, medicine) are hidden but revealed to the devout when the world is in peril. Kangchenjunga in Limbu is Senjelungma/ Seseylungma, and an abode of the omnipotent goddess Yuma Sammang. Kangchenjunga Main is the highest elevation of the Brahmaputra basin, which is among the largest river basins. Although the 3rd highest peak, Kangchenjunga is only 29th by topographic prominence, a measure of a mountain's independent stature. It is the 4th most prominent peak in the Himalayas, and the mid point of the western and eastern anchors of the Himalayas, Nanga Parbat and Namcha Barwa, respectively. The area around Kangchenjunga is said to be home to a mountain deity, Dzö-nga or Kangchenjunga Demon, a type of yeti or rakshasa. A British expedition in 1925 spotted a bipedal creature which the locals referred to as the "Kangchenjunga Demon". Stories by the original inhabitants, the Lepcha people, and Tibetan cultural tradition in the area around Kanchenjunga, say there is a valley of immortality hidden on its slopes. In Tibet, this valley is known as Beyul Demoshong. In 1962 a Tibetan Lama, Tulshuk Lingpa, led 300 followers into the high snow slopes of Kanchenjunga to ‘open the way’ to Beyul Demoshong (see 2011 book A Step Away from Paradise).
Kanchenjunga with Zemu Glacier to the right; next page South face and fly-over view
Zemu Glacier is the largest glacier in the Eastern Himalayas. It is 26 km long and located at the base of Kangchenjunga. The Zemu Glacier drains the east side of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain. The glacier is the source of water for numerous rivers, as it feeds them when it melts. Zemu Glacier remains a less studied and monitored glacier. The glacier has receded 27m every year 1967-84. The retreat is not massive given the great length of the glacier and a thick layer of debris on the glacier prevents ablation; however, small lakes have formed on the surface of these debris-covered sections. After the Kanchenjunga group there was a section of lower (relatively) until we reached the Makalu and Everest groups.
2. Chamlang is a mountain in the Nepalese Himalayas, near Makalu with an elevation of 7,319 metres.
3. Chomo Lonzo (Chinese Zhūmùlóngsuõ Fēng, Chomolonzo,
Jomolönzo,Lhamalangch o) is in Tibet, 5 km northeast of Makalu in Mahalungur (Mohalingor) or Khumbu Himalayas. Chomo-Lonzo has three distinct summits. The Southern main peak 7804m is joined via a 7250m saddle to the Central peak 7565m, itself joined via a 7050m saddle the mountain is to a 7200m North (North West) peak. While from Nepal to mountain is overpowered by nearby Makalu, the 5th-highest peak, the 3 peaks are a very impressive and dominating sight from Kangshung valley in Tibet. The 3000m high northeast face is a challenge as yet unclimbed. Chomo Lonzo translates to bird goddess and from the East the mountain looks like a 3 km high eagle with spread wings.
4. Makalu is the 5th highest mountain in the world at 8485 m, located in the Mahalangur Himalayas 19 km SE of Everest, on the Nepal-Tibet border. One of the 8000ers, Makalu is an isolated peak whose shape is like a 4-sided pyramid. Makalu has two notable subsidiary peaks, Kangchungtse, or Makalu II 7,678m about 3 km north-northwest of the main summit and Chomo Lonzo rising about 5 km north-northeast of the main summit across a broad plateau (connected to Kangchungtse by a narrow 7,200 m saddle. After this group around Makalu there was a small gap (due mainly to the cloud) before the famous mountains, glaciers and glacial lakes clustered around Mt Everest.
5. Baruntse, in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal, is crowned by 4 peaks and bounded on the south by the Hunku Glacier, on the east by the Barun Glacier, by the Imja Glacier. 6. Peak 6/ Tutse, Peak 4 (6720m) and Peak 6 (Mount Tutse) 6739m
7. Shar Tse is located in Kosī Zone, Eastern Nepal. The elevation above sea level is 7444m. Imja Tse/ Island Peak was so named because it appears as a sea of ice when viewed from Dingboche. The peak was later renamed in 1983 Imja Tse but Island Peak remains popular. The peak is actually an extension of the ridge coming down off the south end of Lhotse Shar.
Imja Glacier originates on the western face of Kali Himal 7,057m, and skirts the southern slopes of Imja Tse, SE of Everest. It is joined by the Lhotse Shar and Ambulapcha Glaciers. The glacier forms the eastern extent of Imja Tsho (glacial lake), which in turn drains through the Dingboche valley to the Indian Ocean.
8. Lhotse: (Nepali: ल्होत्से; Tibetan: ལྷོཙེ་) is the 4th highest mountain at 8,516 m. Part of the Everest massif, Lhotse is connected to Everest via the South Col. Lhotse means “South Peak” in Tibetan. In addition to the main summit, the mountain comprises the smaller peaks Lhotse Middle (East) at 8,414 m and Lhotse Shar at 8,383 m. The summit is on the border between Tibet and Nepal. The western flank of Lhotse is known as the Lhotse Face. A climber for the South Col on Everest must climb this 1125m wall of glacial blue ice, which rises 40-50° with occasional 80° bulges. Lhotse Middle is a subsidiary peak to Lhotse, and the final 8000er climbed. It is a sharp, jagged peak rising 8,410m, and the most difficult peak over 8000m to climb. Lhotse Shar is a subsidiary mountain of Lhotse, and the 11th-highest mountain at 8,383 m. It has the highest fatality rate of all the eight-thousanders – for every two people who summit the mountain, one person dies.
from left Nuptse (ridge), Everest, Lhotse
9. Everest: Nepali Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा), Tibetan Chomolungma (ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ), is Earth's highest mountain, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The border between Nepal-Tibet runs across its summit. In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geo-graphical Society (recommended by Andrew Waugh, British Surveyor General of India). As there were several local names, Waugh chose the name of his predecessor, Sir George Everest. Wanting to preserve local names Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri, Waugh's search for a local name was hampered by Nepal and Tibet's exclusion of foreigners. Many local names existed, such as Deodungha (Holy Mountain) and Tibetan Chomolungma, which appeared on a 1733 map by French geographer D'Anville. In the 19th century, European cartographers believed the native name was Gaurishankar, in fact a mountain between Kathmandu and Everest. Tibetan for Everest is ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ (Holy Mother or Qomolangma (Chomolungma/ Jo-mo-glang- ma/ Jomo Langma).
from right Baruntse, Peak 41, Shartse, Lhotse Shar, Lhotse, Everest, Nuptse, Ama Dablam 6856, Pumo Ri 7161, Gyanchung Kang 7952 (higher point, mid pic), Lobuche Ost (lower, directly in front Gyanchung), Ngozumpa Kang II 7743 (very white rounded one), Cho Oyu (steepish left slope), Kangtega 6783 (pictures show same mountains at different journey points)
The official Chinese is Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng, infrequently translated into Chinese as Shèngmǔ Fēng (Holy Mother Peak). In 2002, the Chinese People's Daily newspaper published an article against "Mt Everest", insisting the mountain should be Mt Qomolangma, based on the local Tibetan name. The article argued that British colonialists did not "discover" the mountain, as it was known to Tibetans and mapped by the Chinese as "Qomolangma" in 1719. In 1960, the Nepalese government gave the name Sagarmāthā/ Sagar-Matha सागर-मथ्था, goddess of the sky for Everest. The southern part of Everest is regarded as one of several hidden valleys designated by Padmasambhava, a 9th century "lotus- born" Buddhist saint. At the base of the north side lies Rongbuk Monastery, the sacred threshold to Mt Everest. For Sherpas living on the slopes of Everest in the Khumbu region of Nepal, Rongbuk is an important pilgrimage, a few days across the Himalayas through Nangpa La. Miyolangsangma, a Tibetan Buddhist Goddess of Inexhaustible Giving, is believed to live at the top of Everest. According to Sherpa Buddhist monks, Everest is Miyolangsangma's palace/ playground, and climbers are only partially welcome, having arrived without invitation. The Sherpa people believe Everest is blessed with spiritual energy, and one should show reverence when passing through this sacred landscape as the karmic effects of one's actions are magnified. There are 2 main climbing routes, southeast in Nepal (standard route) and north in Tibet. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, wind, avalanches and Khumbu Icefall. Nearly 300 people have died on Everest, many of whose bodies remain on the mountain. By 2015 pollution, especially human waste, has reached critical levels with 26,500 pounds of human excrement left on the mountain each season, strewn across the route to the summit. The problem of human waste is compounded by the presence of spent oxygen tanks, abandoned tents, empty cans and bottles. The Nepalese government now requires each climber to pack 8kg of waste when descending.
10. Nuptse or Nubtse (Sherpa: ཎུཔ་ ཙེ་; Wylie: Nub rtse) is a mountain in the Khumbu region of the Mahalangur Himal, in the Nepalese Himalayas. It lies 2 km WSW of Everest. Nubtse is Tibetan for "west peak", as it is the western segment of the Lhotse-Nubtse massif. The summit of Nuptse is extremely dangerous due to loose snow with a lot of hollows, and weakly attached cornices of snow. The long east- west trending main ridge is crowned by 7 peaks. While Nuptse is a dramatic peak when viewed from the south or west, and it towers above the base camp for the standard south col route on Everest, it is not a particularly independent peak.
11. Pumori (Nepali परिवर्मी) or Pumo Ri is a mountain on the Nepal-Tibet border in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas, just 8 km west of Everest. Pumori, meaning “the Mountain Daughter” was named by George Mallory. “Pumo” means young girl/ daughter and “Ri” means mountain. Climbers sometimes refer to it as Everest’s daughter, but Mallory called it Clare Peak, after his daughter. Pumori is a popular climbing peak. An outlier of Pumori is Kala Patthar (5,643m), which appears as a brown bump of the south face of Pumori.
12. Ama Dablam is a mountain in the east Nepal Himalaya range. The main peak is 6,812m, the lower western peak is 6,170m. Ama Dablam means "Mother's necklace"; the long ridges on each side like the arms of a mother (ama) protecting her child, and the hanging glacier the dablam, the traditional double-pendant containing pictures of the gods, worn by Sherpa women. Ama Dablam is the 3rd most popular Himalayan peak for climbing. The most popular route is the Southwest Ridge (right skyline in photo). Climbers set up camps along the ridge with camp 3 just below and to the right of the hanging Dablam glacier. Any ice that calves off the glacier typically goes left, away from the camp.
13. Peak 41 (True Mera Peak) 6648m, located 8.5km N-NE of its famous lower neighbour Mera Peak (6476m), one of the most popular “trekking peaks" in Nepal. Peak 41 has a prominence of approx. 850m. Its parent mountain is Ama Dablam.
14. Khumbutse (Chinese: 坤布崎峰 Kūnbùzī Fēng); Nepali खुम्बटट; is the first mountain west (6 km) of Everest. It lies at the border between Nepal and China. Khumbutse's name indicates its location at the head of the Khumbu valley, down which the Khumbu Glacier flows.
15. Changtse (Tibetan: "north peak") is situated between the Main Rongbuk and East Rongbuk Glaciers in Tibet, immediately north of Everest. It is connected to Mount Everest via the North Col. Changtse Glacier flows north into the East Rongbuk Glacier. It is possible that the third highest lake in the world is in the Changtse Glacier at 6,216 m.
Khumbu Icefall
Khumbu Icefall is an icefall located at the head of Khumbu Glacier and the foot of the Western Cwm, at an altitude of 5,486 m on the Nepali slopes of Mount Everest, not far above Base Camp and southwest of the summit. The icefall is considered one of the most dangerous stages of the South Col route to Everest's summit. Khumbu glacier forms an icefall and moves at such speed that large crevasses open with little warning, and the large towers of ice (seracs) found at the icefall have been known to collapse suddenly. Huge blocks of ice tumble down the glacier from time to time, their size ranging from that of cars to large houses. It is estimated that the glacier advances 0.9 to 1.2 m down the mountain every day. Most climbers try to cross the icefall during the very early morning, before sunrise, when it has partially frozen during the night. As the intense sunlight warms the area, the friction between the ice structure lessens and increases the chances of crevasses opening or blocks of ice falling. Strong climbers can ascend the icefall in a few hours, while climbers going through it for the first time, or lacking experience, tend to make the journey in 10–12 hours.
16. Gyachung Kang (Nepali: गय् ाचुङ्काङ, Gy'chung K'ng; Chinese Gézhòngk'ng F#ng) 7,952m is a mountain in the Mahalangur Himal section of the Himalaya, and the highest peak between Cho Oyu (8,201 m) and Everest (8,848 m). It lies on the border between Nepal and China. As the 15th highest peak in the world, it is also the highest peak under 8000 m; hence it is less well-known than the lowest of the eight- thousanders, which are only about 100 m higher. The peak's lack of significant prominence (700 m) also contributes to its relative obscurity.
17. Lobuche (Lobuje) is a Nepalese mountain close to Khumbu Glacier. There are two main peaks, Lobuche East (6,119m) and Lobuche West (6,145m). As the easier, trekking peak, the East peak is climbed far more frequently than the West peak. Between the two peaks is a long deeply notched ridge.
18. Tenzing Peak/ Ngozumpa Kang is the name which has been proposed by the Government of Nepal for a 7,916m peak in the Himalayas in honour of Tenzing Norgay, who made the first ascent of Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953. It is also known as Ngojumba Kang, Ngozumpa Kang and Ngojumba Ri. Ngozumpa glacier, below Cho Oyu, at 36 kilometres, is the longest glacier in the Himalayas. Ngozumpa Glacier is a large persistent body of ice. It flows slowly due to stresses induced by its weight.
19. Cho Oyu (Nepali: चो ओयु; Tibetan: ཆོ་ ཨོཡུ་) is the 6th highest mountain in the world at 8,188 m. Cho Oyu means Turquoise Goddess in Tibetan. The mountain is the westmost major peak of the Khumbu sub section of the Mahalangur Himalaya 20km west of Everest on the China-Nepal border. Just 2 km west of Cho Oyu is Nangpa La 5,716m, a glaciated pass that is the main trading route between Tibet and Khumbu's Sherpas as it separates the Khumbu and Rolwaling Himalayas. Due to its proximity to this pass and the moderate slopes of the northwest ridge, Cho Oyu is considered the easiest 8,000 metre peak to climb.
20. Kangtega, aka The Snow Saddle, is a major mountain peak of the Himalayas in Nepal. Its summit rises 6,782 metres

After this group there was quite a gap, followed by a set of mountains in the Rolwaling Himal section of the Himalayas. The two major mountains in this group, which crosses the Nepal-Tibet-India border, are Gaurishankar and Melungtse.
21.Gaurishankar (Gauri Sankar; Devanagari गौरीशंकर; Tibetan: Jomo Tseringma) is a mountain in the Himalayas, the 2nd highest peak of the Rolwaling Himal, behind Melungtse (7,181m). The name comes from the Hindu goddess Gauri, a manifestation of Durga, and her Consort Shankar, denoting the sacred regard to which it is afforded it by the peoples of Tibet and Nepal. The Buddhist Sherpas call the mountain Jomo Tseringma. The Nepal Standard Time (GMT+05:45) is based on the meridian of this mountain peak. The mountain has two summits, the northern (higher) summit being called Shankar (a manifestation of Shiva) and the southern summit being called Gauri (a manifestation of Durga). It rises dramatically above the Bhote Kosi only 5 km away, and is protected on all sides by steep faces and long, corniced ridges.
Melungtse(r) and Gaurishankar(l); glacier
22. Melungtse (Tibetan Jobo Garu; Chinese Qiáogérú F#ng) is the highest mountain of the Rolwaling Himal in the Himalayas at 7181 m and 40 km west of Everest.
Main summit in background, Melungtse II left peak on the ridge.
The peak has a long summit ridge capped by the east (main) summit and the west summit, known as Melungtse II 7,023m. The mountain's steep faces make it more difficult than its elevation would suggest. Melungtse lies just north of the Nepal–Tibet border, on a western spur ridge coming out of the main north-south trending ridge of the Rolwaling Himal, in Tingri County, Shigatse Prefecture of Tibet. To the southwest, across the Menlung Chu, lies Gauri Sankar, which, though a bit lower (7134 m), is more visible from Nepal and better known.
Western Everest range; from left Lunag Ri massif (multiple points mid to far left), Kangtega (bulbous point mid pic), Cho Oyu, Ngozumpa Kang II, Gyachung Kang
We landed mid morning back in Kathmandu, found our cases (no carousel, just abandoned) and were collected by a new guide, Keshav (or KK as he preferred). On our way back to the Hotel Vaishali again we stopped at a photo booth for a new photo for the Tibet visa because the Chinese Embassy had decided that all photos now needed to be in a different format, rather than passport size (and apparently needed to see ears in the photos!?). Back finally at the hotel we met some new companions Amy and Michael. KK asked if we’d like a walk through Old Kathmandu to Durbar Square to witness the Indra Kumari Jatra festivals. Naturally I jumped at the chance, so the 6 of us set off.

Posted by PetersF 07:27 Archived in Nepal Tagged himalayas nepal bhutan kathmandu Comments (0)

Kathmandu Indra Jatra


September 24th Kathmandu Nepal

We had specifically chosen our dates to coincide with the Indra and Kumari Jatra and the streets were pleasingly full of celebrating people, all happy and dancing. Indra Jātrā, commonly known as Yenyā is the biggest religious street festival in Kathmandu. Ye means "Kathmandu" and Ya means "celebration". The celebrations consist of 2 events, Indra Jātrā and Kumāri Jātrā. Indra Jātrā is marked by masked dances of deities and demons, displays of sacred images and tableaus in honour of the deity Indra, king of heaven. Kumāri Jātrā is the chariot procession of the living goddess Kumari. The main venue of the festivities is Kathmandu Durbar Square. Indra Jatra was started by King Gunakamadeva to commemorate the founding of Kathmandu in the 10th century. Kumari Jatra began mid-18th century. This year (2018), the festival takes place 21-29 September, and the main day of attraction is 24th.
We set off through Thamel down towards Durbar square. Starting at Thamel Marg we continued south until we got to a small lane leading to Maitripur Mahabihar Bahal, one of Thamel’s oldest monasteries. Inside this well persevered courtyard are several shrines. The most prominent was a large white Shiva Lingam. Behind the doors in front of it was a statue to Buddha.

Back on the main road and down to a small Bhagwati Shrine, almost hidden between stores at the bottom of Thamel Marg to the right, a tiny courtyard housing a small shrine dedicated to goddess Bhagwati. Unassuming on the outside, but the main shrine to Bhagwati was the most colourfully decorated in Kathmandu! One of the famous temples of the Hindu goddess Durga, the temple of Shova Bhagwati. The actual name of the temple was Shovagaya Bhagwati, which means luck, especially in married life but it was later changed into Shova Bhagwati. Outside Bhagwati temple the food market began and we entered Thahiti Chowk. From the bottom of Thamel we were in Thahiti/Thahity Chowk, a popular part of the old city filled with market streets, shrines and temples. The beauty of Kathmandu streets is that they are filled with local people, mainly Newari, the first settlers in Kathmandu Valley. From here we were quickly in Ason Chowk.
With six streets leading into Ason chowk and a lot of festival goers it was a bit overwhelming at first. Asan Tol (Nepal Bhasa: अस, Nepali: असन) is a ceremonial, market and residential square in central Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It is one of the most well-known historical locations in the city and is famed for its bazaar, festival calendar and strategic location. Asan has been described as one of the fine Newar examples of a traditional Asian bazaar. The Tuladhar, Maharjan, Shrestha, Bajracharya and Shakya castes make up most of the population. Six streets converge on Asan giving the square a perpetual bustle. The bazaar at Asan attracts shoppers from all over Kathmandu because of the tremendous variety of merchandise sold here, ranging from foodstuffs, spices and textiles to electronics and bullion. Asan straddles one of the two legendary India-Tibet trade routes that pass through Kathmandu. Because of this history, Asan has been one of the city's main marketplaces since ancient times. The trade route is diagonally aligned, and the section within the city extends from Kathmandu Durbar Square to Asan and to the northeast. One side took us to towering 3-storey Annapurna Temple (right. In front of the temple we saw the lively and historic market where people sell fresh vegetables from the valley, spices from the Indian sub-continents and dried goods. The temple of Annapurna Ajimā (Asanmaru Ajimā असंमरु अजिमा) presides over Asan. She is the goddess of abundant food grain and is the patron deity of the neighborhood. The goddess is represented by a filled grain measure. The Newari style temple has a rich history and is highly decorated with mirrors, lamps, plates, statues and elaborate torans. Inside you might be surprised there is no deity. Instead there is a tantric silver vessel called a kalas which is a symbol of bounty.
Across from the Annapurna temple is the 2-storey brass roof of the Ganesh temple (left). The temple of Ganesh (Ganedya गनेद्य) stands at the north side of the square. The temple was renovated and its tile roofs replaced in 1928. The stone statue of Ganesh sits surrounded by a gilded arch, though the statue is so faded from rain water over the years it's hard to distinguish it. Every traditional Newar neighborhood has a Ganesh shrine. In front of it is the mysterious celestial stone fish surrounded by a small stone wall. Nyālon(न्यालोह) or “fish stone” is the stone figure of a fish placed on a pedestal at the centre of the square. It marks the spot where a fish fell from the sky and is related to the legendary founding of Asan. A small temple dedicated to the deity Narayan stands at the northwestern side of the square. Yita Chapā (यिता चपा) meaning "southern pavilion" is the long building on the southern side. It contains shrine rooms and a hymn hall where locals gather to sing hymns. Asan Dabu is a stone platform where sacred dances and musical performances are held during festivals. At other times it is covered by shops.
The streets and lanes radiating out from the square contain shrines and sacred courtyards. The Buddhist courtyards of Takse Bāhā, Kwathu Bāhā, Hāku Bāhā, Dhālāsikwa Bāhā, Dagu Bāhā, Asan Bāhā and Hwakhā Bāhā are situated around the perimeter of the square. Each of them contains a decorated shrine house with an image of the Buddha and assorted stupas. On the second day of the chariot festival of Kum!ri J!tr!, three chariots containing human representation of Ganesh, Bhairava and Kumari are pulled through Asan. The chariot procession is part of Indra Jatra and is known as Thaneyā (थनेया:). It is held in September. Ason Chowk had temples and shrines around its busy main square, and we had to jostle to see the. Though some were surrounded by market traders all are very much active places of worship.

We went directly south into a narrow street filled with metalware and on south to Jana Bahal, a beautiful courtyard with an interesting history. After walking down from Ason Chowk past all the metalware stores we came to a junction with a 3-storey brick and wood Newari temple on the right (Luchhubhulu Ajima). This area is Jana Bahal (junction Kel Tole). Just past the temple on the right is the remains of archway now filled with local stores. Behind is impressive Seto Machchhendranath temple (pics below). In 2018 Jana Bahal is being renovated, but the temple is still open. Inside this courtyard in front of the temple is a small gilded statue of a woman, maybe Maya Devi, though many say it's too European to be her. Inside the temple is the impressive Seto Machchhendranath statue, worshipped by both Buddhists (as Seto (White) Machhendranath as form of Avalokiteshvara) and Hindus (as a rain-bringing incarnation of Shiva). The temple’s age is unknown, but it was restored in the 17th c. The arch entrance was marked by a small Buddha on an high stone pillar before 2 metal lions. In the courtyard were lots of small shrines, chaitya (small stupas), statues, and an odd European female surrounded by candles facing the temple (possibly an import from Europe accepted into the pantheon of gods?). Facing other way, just in front of temple, 2 bronze figures of the Taras were seated on pillars. Inside was a white-faced image of the god covered in flowers. I bought a candle, swirled it round three times, then got the god to bless it (well, the resident monk takes it and does it for you, but the principle is good). The main temple itself dates from the 17th century, but inside the temple the statue predates it by 700 years.
The White Machchhendranath statue inside the temple was by King Gunakamadeva in the late 10th century. Shortly after it was stolen by invaders from the west., but as they couldn't carry it they threw it into a river. The western king who stole it became infected by a skin disease as were his descendants. An astrologer linked the events and the statue was brought back to Jana Bahal. Soon after the temple was constructed to house the statue. Unique statues around Jana Bahal Jana Bahal's courtyard is filled with shrines and statues. For historians it is of interest to note the unusual gilded statue of a woman. Some suggest it’s the mother of Buddha, Maya Devi. Her look is far too similar to a European-styled figurine for others. Today she is adorned with red-vermilion. Perhaps her identity can be found in the temple itself. It is believed that during the rule of King Yakshya Malla, in a place called Kantipuri, people used to bathe in the holy river and visit Swayambhunath. Yamraj (God of Death) came to know the power of Swayambhunath and he visited the holy temple. During his return he was captured by King Yakshya Malla and his Tantric Guru who demanded immortality and would not let Yamraj leave. Yamraj prayed to Arya Awalokiteshwor (Seto Machindranath) to free him. The God heard his prayer and instantly appeared from the water. The god was white in colour with eyes half closed. He told the king to build a temple where Kalmati and Bagmati meet and organise a chariot procession so that the God could visit the people and bless them with happiness and long life.
img_4739_46424543915_o.jpgAs we left the temple, to the left there was a small 3-roof Tantric temple, the Lunchun Lunbun Ajima, red-tiled round the lower level with erotic carvings at base of struts. Just north of the temple in the side street Bhedasingh were shops selling topi (cloth hats) and Nepali traditional dress daura suruwal (long shirt, tapered trousers). Carrying on 300m led us to Itum Bahal, a courtyard monastery. This is Kathmandu’s largest bahal (Buddhist monastery courtyard), and a haven of tranquillity. On the west side was Kichandra Bahal (Keshchandra Paravarta Mahar Bihar), one of the oldest in the city, dating to 1381. A chaitya in front of the entrance has been completely shattered by a Bodhi tree, grown right through its centre. Inside Kichandra Bahal (Keshchandra Paravarta Mahar Bihar) was a central pagoda sanctuary, and a small chaitya decorated with standing bodhisattvas.
On the north side were 4 brass plaques on an upper-storey wall. The one on the left shows the demon Guru Mapa stuffing a misbehaving child in his mouth. The demon was bought off with the promise of an annual feast of buffalo meat. The plaque to the right shows him sitting down to a pot of food. Every year in Holi the inhabitants of Itum Bahal sacrifice a buffalo to Guru Mapa on the banks of Vishnumati Rv, cook it in the courtyard and in the middle of the night carry it in huge cauldrons to a tree in the Tundikhel parade ground where the demon lives. We continued south to Indra Chowk next to Seto Machhendraneth Temple, where the busy street of Makhan Tole spilled into Indra Chowk courtyard, named for ancient Vedic deity Indra. The traditional centre for selling cloth, merchants cover platforms Mahadev Temple. Continuing to the main junction we were passed by a marching band, and arrived at the large Akash Bhairab Temple (Indra Mandir)-pics below. On the west side of the square was the facade of Akash Bhairab (Bhairab of Sky) Temple. From the balcony 4 metal lions reared over street and the temple’s entrance (right- hand side) was guarded by 2 brass lions. The silver image normally only visible through the open windows from the street had been brought out for the festival. In a small niche just left of Akash Bhairab Temple was a small brass Ganesh shrine. King Yalambar of the Kirat Dynasty (800 BC) is said to be associated with this version of Bhairab. The temple is unusual due to its open 2nd level. It was constructed by Pratap Malla in the 17th century and also houses an image of Indra that comes out during Indra Jatra. Next door is a black stone Shiva Temple, a small version of Patan’s Krishna Temple. Akash Bhairav (आजु) is one of the forms of Bhairava. He is known as Yalambar in Nepal, Barbarika in Mahabharata and "aju (First King) in Nepal Bhasa. The temple of Akash Bhairav is supposed to have been a palace of the first king of Nepal, Kiranti King Yalambar c3100-3500 years ago. The surrounding of Akash Bhairav is known as Yen to symbolise Ne (Midland in Kiranti language) in Nepal. The head of Aakash Bhairav was dug up several hundred years ago in Kathmandu. It is taken out once a year on the Yenya Festival and blessed by the Kumari, in September. During the ceremony, large number of worshippers come to visit this temple. They offer Peda (sweets made from milk), flowers, money, etc (which we witnessed). I went to take some petals from the image along with all the worshippers. Facing Akash Bhairab Temple we took the small street immediately left of the temple all the way to Durbar Square. https://www.thelongestwayhome.com/travel-guides/nepal/kathmandu/thamel-heritage-walk.html

Durbar Square
At Durbar Square (unless you are a local and have a pass), you have to pay a tourist fee of Rs1000, which KK did while we looked around. The square was super vibrant with worshippers for the festival, singing, dancing, chatting and all very excited to see the Kumari. The Kumari has recently changed as the previous one reached puberty last year, and the current one is only aged 2 # (meaning she would only have a short time being processed around the square). Durbar square (which exists in all the Kathmandu valley royal cities) is where kings are crowned, and from where they ruled (durbar=palace). This one in the heart of Kathmandu is noted for its traditional architecture. The square was badly hit in the 2015 earthquake, although miraculously the Kumari palace was untouched (and you know what the locals believe about this... Kumari divine power etc). The square dates to the 17/18th century (though many buildings are older), and was rebuilt after the 1934 quake. Durbar is 3 loosely-linked squares; to the south open Basantapur Square (former royal elephant stables) runs into Freak Street. Durbar Square has Hanuman Dhoka and temples. From here Makhan Tole, the original main road is interesting to walk.
Below is a list of various temples, shrines, houses, etc with a guide to their current state. Those cells in grey were destroyed and have either not started restoration, or it is at a very early stage, those highlighted in yellow were badly damaged (or destroyed), but restoration has started and is progressing well, those highlighted in red were damaged, but restoration has been completed and those highlighted in blue were undamaged. There is an ongoing fight between who should pay for restoration, city or country. For the smaller temples/ shrines it has clearly been a city issue and they have, on the whole, got on and done it. It is the more iconic, very badly damaged temples, especially Kasthamandap and Trailokya Mohan, that have been more contentious. Last year it was finally agreed that it was the responsibility of Nepal (partly as Kathmandu city could not really afford it) and the work has now begun on them. This meant that although a lot of the temples have been mostly or completely restored, the two main ones were not for our visit. In many ways the 1934 earthquake restoration, which was roundly denounced as ‘not authentic’ at the time, has been a blessing, as those temple restored at the time with steel reinforcement poles (albeit hidden) did not collapse in 2015 at all, or with limited issues. In light of this, the decision has been made to continue to use steel reinforcement in the restoration work, despite it being ‘modern’, as it clearly worked to save both the buildings and the lives of people in the square at the time. Our guide was actually in the square during the earthquake and said he was surprised at how little fell (though then he, falsely, started worrying about his family instead. They were fine, but obviously an issue at the time).
We entered through the booth with the huge Taleju Temple to our left (no entry to public). Durbar Square’s most magnificent temple stands at its northeastern extremity but is not open to the public. Even for Hindus, admission is restricted; they can only visit it briefly during the annual Dasain festival. The 35m high, 3-roof, temple was built in typical Newari architecture in 1564 by Mahendra Malla. Taleju Bhawani was originally a goddess from the south of India, but she became the titular deity, or royal goddess, of the Malla kings in the 14th century. Perhaps because of the influence of the royal goddess(!), the temple escaped with only minor damage in the 2015 earthquake. The temple stands on a 12-stage plinth, dominating the Durbar Square area. The eighth stage of the plinth forms a wall around the temple, in front of which are 12 miniature temples.
large_bfc61660-b66e-11eb-a387-e3714973186b.pngFour more miniature temples stand inside the wall, which has four beautifully carved wide gates. It is said that when Mahendra Malla was residing in Bhaktapur, he was highly devoted to the Taleju Temple there; the Goddess being pleased with his devotion gave him a vision asking him to build a temple for her in Kathmandu Durbar Square. With a help of a hermit, he designed the temple to give it its present form and the Goddess entered the temple in the form of a bee. The oldest temples in the square are those built by Mahendra Malla (1560–74); Jagannath, Kasthamandap (Kotilingeswara Mahadev), Mahendreswara, and Taleju Temple.
Entrance gate from North with Mahendreshwar behind; Mahendreshwar Temple; Kageshwor Temple
The first temple we came across, to our right, was Mahendreshwar Temple. This popular temple dates from 1561, during the reign of Mahendra Malla, and is always bustling with pilgrims. The temple was clumsily restored with marble in 1963 and is dedicated to Shiva. At the northeastern corner there is an image of Kama Deva. The temple has a wide, two-level plinth and a spire topped by a golden umbrella. Directly in front of us was the slightly larger Kageshwor Temple, with lots of dancing in front of it. Built in 1711 by Queen Bhuvan Laxmi in memory of the late King Bhupendra Malla, the temple was originally a pagoda style structure in the distinctive local Newari style. Kageshwor is an incarnation of Shiva. The temple is unusual because its pagoda style ground floor is surmounted by a Shikhari style dome, probably added after the temple was damaged in an earth-quake in the early 19th century. Poor restoration work after the 1934 earthquake led to further degradation of the temple.The timbers, roof and walls had to be renovated. Mud mortar was used to reduce vulnerability to future earthquakes and further structural strengthening was carried out. Inappropriate red wash was removed from the walls and the original wood carving were restored. As a result it was undamaged in 2015.
Indrapur (left) and Vishnu (right) Temples; Kal Bhairav
Passing this we saw a row of three smaller temples, twin ones to Indrapur (middle) and Vishnu (on the left), and a very small one to Kal Bhairav, which we came back to later {this one had the statue we saw}. Little is known about the mysterious Indrapur temple. Even the god to which it is dedicated is controversial, the lingam inside indicates that it is a Shiva temple, but the Garuda image half-buried on the southern side connects it to Vishnu. To compound the puzzle, the temple’s name clearly indicates it is dedicated to Indra! The temple’s unadorned design and plain roof struts, together with the lack of an identifying torana (pediment above the temple doors), offer no further clues. Bhairav is one of the most dangerous forms of Lord Shiva and among the various forms of Bhairav, Kala Bhairav is the most perilous. This huge stone image has six arms, wears a garland of skulls and tramples on a corpse, symbolic of human ignorance. The meaning of Kala is ‘time’ or ‘death’, hence, Kala Bhairav is the ‘Lord of time or death’. Considered the guru of the planetary deity Shani (Saturn), Kala Bhairav is often depicted carrying the decapitated head of Brahma in guilt for cutting of one of the five heads of Brahma. He had to carry the head and roam as a mendicant for several years until he was absolved of the sin. He is often depicted wearing twisted serpents, a tiger skin and an apron made of human bones. The image of Kala Bhairav in the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu is said to be the largest image of him and is considered one of the powerful temples in Kathmandu valley. The 12 foot high stone image enshrined in the temple is said to have been sculpted in the 5th or 6th century and rediscovered in a paddy field in the 17th century by King Pratap Malla. Legend has it that the temple served as a supreme court in Nepal for a long time as the people believed that anyone who lied in front of the sculpture would be stuck dead. The image is black in colour and is worshipped everyday.

We looked at the temples to Indra and Vishnu before heading to the large Jagannath (after Taleju it was the largest in the square). Jagannath temple is noted for the erotic carvings on its roof struts, and is the oldest structure in this part of Durbar Square. Pratap Malla claimed to have constructed the temple during his reign, but it may actually date back to 1563, during the rule of Mahendra Malla (1560-74). The temple has a three-tiered platform and two storeys. There are three doors on each side of the temple, but only the centre door opens. There are worrying cracks in the upper-storey brickwork.
Jagannath (there were erotic dancers in the crowd); Hanumandhoka; Narasingha statue
Passing Sundari and Mohan Chowks (no entry), we came to the corner of the square where there was a Hanuman statue. Mohan Chok was built in 1649 north of Nasal Chok. It was the residential courtyard of the Malla kings, and mandatory for a Malla king to be born here. In the courtyard centre is a golden waterspout called Sun Dhara, said to be from Budhanilkantha, in north part of Valley. On the north side, a beautifully carved doorway leads to the Malla kings’ private quarters, which rank as the oldest parts of Hanuman Dhoka. The first courtyard is Mohankali (Mohan) Chowk, which dates from 1649. At one time, a Malla king had to be born here to be eligible to wear the crown. The last Malla king, Jaya Prakash Malla, had great difficulties during his reign, even though he was the legitimate heir, because he was born elsewhere. Impressive wood carvings line the wall alcoves, depicting the exploits of young Krishna, and the central hiti (water reservoir) is the palace's finest. Pride of place in the intimate black-and-white Sundari Chowk behind is the ritual bathing pool with its Lichhavi-era carving of Krishna subduing the coils of the Kaliya serpent, hewn from a single block of stone in the 6th century. The Malla kings would ritually bathe each morning at the golden waterspout, whose waters allegedly flow from Budhanilkantha in the north of the valley.
The Hanuman statue marks the Hanumandhoka (entrance/ gate) to Kathmandu's old Royal Palace and gave the palace its name. The 1672 statue of Hanuman in red cloth and umbrella, has its face smeared with red paste. On the left is a 1673 sculpture of Narasimha (half-man, half-lion incarnation of Vishnu), devouring demon Hiranyakashipu. Hanuman’s assistance to the noble Rama during the exciting events of the Ramayana has led to the monkey god guarding many important entrances. Here, cloaked in red and sheltered by an umbrella, a Hanuman statue marks the dhoka (entrance) to Hanuman Dhoka and has even given the palace its name. The statue dates from 1672; the god’s face has long disappeared under a coating of orange-vermillion paste applied by generations of devotees. Standards bearing the double-triangle flag of Nepal flank the statue, while on each side of the palace gate are gaudy stone lions, one ridden by Shiva, the other by his wife Parvati. Above the gate a brightly painted niche is illustrated with a central figure of a ferocious Tantric version of Krishna. On the left side is the gentler Hindu Krishna in his traditional blue colour accompanied by two of his gopi (milkmaids). On the other side are King Pratap Malla and his queen. The Hanuman Dhoka originally housed 35 courtyards (chowks), but the 1934 earthquake reduced the palace to today’s 10 chowks.
Hanuman palace with coronation pavilion
Hanuman Dhoka Palace was originally founded during the Licchavi period (4th-8th century), but as it stands today it was constructed by King Pratap Malla and his Queen. The complex of structures in the Royal Palace of the Malla and Shah dynasties covers 5 acres. The East wing with 10 courtyards is the oldest part, dating to the mid 16th century, and expanded by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century. In 1768, four lookout towers were added by Prithvi Narayan Shah. The royal family lived here to 1886, when they moved to Narayanhiti Palace. A stone inscription is outside in 15 languages; legend states if all 15 are read milk will spring from the middle of stone tablet.
15 language inscription; Nasal Chok/ Basantapur Tower (before 2015); Mul Chok
We went through the entrance into Nasal Chowk, an enclosed courtyard surrounded by buildings that were once the royal palace. The large Narsingha statue and small dancing Shiva statue, along with the coronation platform had recently been restored, but at far corners Patan Tower (left) and Basantapur Tower (right) were both still badly damaged. The courtyard is from the Malla Period, but the buildings are Rana. It is named Nasal (Dancer) for the dancing Shiva on the east side. Kabindrapur Temple, Pancha Mukhi Hanuman Temple, Basantapur Tower, Mul Chowk, Degutaleju Temple, Mohan Chowk and Rana museum are all part of Nasal Chowk. Near the entrance are carvings of 4 gods which lead to the private apartments of the king. There was a golden image of Maha Vishnu on the east wall. The Audience Chamber of the Malla kings was in the NE corner. Their throne was on an open verandah. Nasal Chowk was constructed in the Malla period, but many of the buildings around the square are later Rana constructions. During the Rana period, Nasal Chowk was used for coronations, a practice that continued until as recently as 2001 with the crowning of King Gyanendra. The coronation platform stands in the centre of the courtyard, while the damaged Basantapur (Kathmandu) Tower looms over the southern end of the courtyard. Beyond the door is the large Narsingha Statue, Vishnu in his man-lion incarnation, in the act of disembowelling a demon. The stone image was erected by Pratap Malla in 1673 and the inscription on the pedestal explains that he placed it here for fear that he had offended Vishnu by dancing in a Narsingha costume. The Kabindrapur Temple in Durbar Sq was built for the same reason. Next is the Sisha Baithak (Audience Chamber) of the Malla kings. The open verandah houses the Malla throne and contains portraits of the Shah kings. At the northeastern corner of Nasal Chowk stands the damaged Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple, with its five circular roofs. Each of the valley towns has a five-storey temple, although it is the great Nyatapola Temple of Bhaktapur that is by far the best known. Hanuman is worshipped in the temple in Kathmandu, but only the priests may enter. In Nepali nasal means ‘dancing one’, and Nasal Chowk takes its name from the Dancing Shiva statue in the whitewashed niche in the entrance. On display along the east side of the courtyard are the palanquins used to carry Queen Aishwarya during her wedding to Birendra in 1970. Also displayed here is the royal throne. The palace wing to the west of Nasal Chowk, overlooking the main Durbar Sq area, was constructed by the Rana ministers in the mid/ late 19th century after they wrested power from the Shah dynasty. Ironically, it later became a museum celebrating King Tribhuvan (1911–55) and his successful revolt against their regime, along with memorials to Kings Mahendra (1955–72) and Birendra (1972–2001). Rising above the museum is the 9-storey Basantapur (Kathmandu) Tower (1770), which once stood like a beacon at the end of Freak St. Unfortunately, the upper tiers collapsed during the earthquake and the tower is closed.
Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple in the NE corner is unique as it has 5 circular roofs (only the temple priest can enter). Basantapur (place of Spring) was a 9-storey tower with erotic images on the tower struts, one of 4 red towers built by King Prithvi Narayan Shah to delimit the 4 old cities of Kathmandu Valley. Mul Chok, dedicated to Taleju Bhawani (the tutelary goddess of Malla family), is a courtyard with 2 storey religious buildings all round. The temple, with its golden torana (door garland), is located on the south side of the courtyard, with its entrance flanked with the river goddesses Ganges and Yamuna. Degu Taleju is a 3-roofed temple by Shiva Singh Malla and also dedicated to Taleju. On west side of Nasal Chok is Tribhuwan Museum with carvings, thrones, coronation ornaments, weapons, furniture, coins, King Tribhuwan's bedroom, etc, sadly closed. This part of palace was built by the Ranas in the mid/ late 19th century. The first square after the Tribhuvan Museum is Lohan Chowk. The upper parts of Basantapur (Kathmandu) and Bhaktapur Towers (Lakshmi Bilas) collapsed in 2015, but Kirtipur and Patan (Lalitpur) Towers (known more evocatively as Bilas Mandir, or House of Pleasure) are still standing.
Sweta Bhairav on display (outside Degataleju and on platform later)
North of Lohan Chowk, Mul Chowk was completely dedicated to religious functions within the palace and is configured like a vihara,with a two-storey building surrounding the courtyard. Mul Chowk is dedicated to Taleju Bhawani, the royal goddess of the Mallas, and sacrifices are made to her in the centre of the courtyard during the Dasain festival. Generally non-Hindus are not allowed in the square, but it was so busy with festival goers no one noticed us.
We didn’t stay long as we came back out and walked along the square with Kumari House group on our left. This set of buildings, where the Kumari resides includes Degutaleju Temple and Sweta Bhairav idol (on display in a window as it was Indra jatra festival- he is normally hidden). In the centre of this area was the tall King Pratap Malla’s Column. Across from the Krishna Temple, standing on a slightly raised platform in front of the Hanuman Dhoka is the square stone pillar, known as the Pratap Dhvaja. It is topped by a statue of King Pratap Malla, seated with folded hands and surrounded by his two wives and his five (including an infant) sons. He looks towards his private prayer room on the third floor of the Degutaleju Temple. The column was erected in 1670 by Pratap Malla and preceded the similar columns in Patan and Bhaktapur.
Kumari House; Degu taleju Temple with Pratap Mall’s Column in front.
As we past back Jagannath on the right we came into Makhan Tole with a of buildings in front of us. From right to left these were the Giant drums building (recently restored), Krishna Temple (the largest of the group), Saraswati Temple, Stone Vishnu Temple and the Big Bell. Among the pantheon of Hindu deities, Saraswati is one of the few goddesses who has remained significant in later Hinduism. The earliest reference to her is in the Rig Veda, as the manifestation of the river, on the bank of which Vedic culture developed. The Puranas narrate she was created by Brahma, the supreme creator of the universe. In some, she is his wife, in others his daughter. She is worshipped now as goddess of speech, learning, and fine arts. Her early associations with water, fertility, and prosperity are forgotten. Like every other Shakti deity in Hinduism, Saraswati is associated with a male deity, Brahma. In Nepal, particularly Kathmandu Valley, images of the deity can be found seated in lalitasana (on a lotus), or standing (samabhanga mudra). Standing idols sometimes have two arms, sometimes four. The right hands hold rosary beads, while the left hold a book and ink pot. Most seated idols are four-armed; the two right hands hold the rosary and the veena (instrument). The octagonal Krishna Temple (Chyasin Dega) was built in 1648/9 by Pratap Malla, either as a response to rival Siddhinarshingh Malla's Krishna Temple in Patan, as a religious consolation for his earlier failure to conquer that city, or in memory of his two wives, or a combination of all three. The three-tiered traditional Newari building is supported by stone columns around the circumference of the base. The image of Krishna inside the temple is accompanied by his two wives, Satyabhama and Rukmani, which, according to a Sanskrit inscription, are modelled on Pratap Malla and his two queens.
corner of Stone Vishnu Temple, Saraswati (small), Krishna (centre back); corner of Bhagwati temple, Big Bell (Taleju Bell), Stone Vishnu Temple
We headed round the corner to the left with Kumari House on our left (which included Bhagawati Temple). To our right was the Shiva Parvati mandir (Nawa Jogini). This brick and wood temple had 2 stone lions. It was only mildly damaged in 2015. Narayan Temple was behind Shiva Parvati. The larger Maju Deval Temple and associated shrine,
Ashok Binayak (Manu Ganesh) Temple were on our right. Located in the south west of Kathmandu Durbar square behind Kasthamandap is the House of the Priest (or of Spells). This awkward looking house with a red door with Buddha eyes. It is known both as the house of the priest and the house of spells. The house is home to a priest who looks after the nearby Ganesh shrine (Ashok Binayak) located around the corner beside Kasthamandap. Strangely the building isn't known as the house of spells due to a priest living inside but due to its perpendicular construction. Just past the house of spells to the left is a descending street known as "Pig Alley". This area is a traditional market dating back to the origins of Kathmandu city. Right in front of the house of spells is the back of Kasthamandap which was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and is still in the midst of a rebuilding crises.. All around this area is a local vegetable market. There are no stalls just blankets or produce from each vendor is placed on the walls or ground here. To the west of the house of the priest is an Indian style brick shikhara dedicated to Shiva. At the junction is an entry point to Kathmandu Durbar Square and in front of it the rundown building known as Simha Sattal which was once a dance house dedicated to Shiva. To the east of the priests house is the ganesh shrine he looks after known as Maru Ganesh or Ashok Binayak. Ganesh's mouse sits opposite it! The once impressive Maju Deval temples, built in 1690 by the mother of Bhaktapur’s king Bhupatindra Malla had a large, triple-roofed temple with erotic carvings on its roof struts and a Shiva lingam inside. At the bottom of the temple stairway on the east side was a small white temple to Kama Deva, the Hindu god of love and desire, built in Indian shikhara style, with a tall corn cob–like spire. Sadly both of these were very badly damaged in 2015.
Shiva-Parvati Temple; Bhagwati Temple; Laxmi Narayan (left) and Trilokya (right edge) Temples (both destroyed)
Ashok Binayak; House of the Priest; Maju Deval and Kasthamandap (both destroyed 2015)
Although the small Shiva temple/shrine was standing the large and impressive Kasthamandap Temple (aka Kotilingeshwara Mahadev/ Maru Sattal) was rubble, having been destroyed in the earthquake. A plaque found inside Kasthamandap dated to 1048 made it one of the oldest buildings in Nepal. Kathmandu’s name is most likely derived from this temple due to its proximity between two ancient villages (Yambu and Yangala) that when merged formed the city. Kasthamandap was founded during the turbulent, sparsely recorded Transitional Period in Kathmandu history that was sandwiched between Licchavi decline and the rise of the Malla rule. Current bickering between the local municipality and the department of archaeology have hampered its reconstruction. Kasthamandap was not consecrated so it’s never been a temple. It is in fact a rest house which was converted into a shrine for Gorakhnath in 1379, whose central orange coloured statue was inside. Gorakhnath was a 10/11th century yogi. He is where the Gurkhas of Nepal get their name. It is said that Gorakhnath attended the chariot procession of Machhindranath while in human form, but a tantric priest recognised him and cast a spell which imprisoned him in Kathmandu Valley. Gorakhnath made a deal with the priest for his freedom. The priest needed wood to construct a building so Gorakhnath made a sal tree grow. The priest then used to the tree to tantrically build Kasthamandap and dedicated it to Gorakhnath. Another legend mentions a pinnacle which was never constructed. The builders promised to build the pinnacle once the price of oil and salt became equal, but this never happened. The story of the priest and Gorakhnath changes to say that King Laxmi Narsingha Malla built Kasthamandap using the wood from a single sal tree. Indeed engineer reports state that Kasthamandap has no metal joints, rivets or nails, though note that the building was extensively renovated in 1596 by King Lakshminarasimha Malla and again in the 17th century. Whichever is the case there is little doubting the important cultural significance of Kasthamandap. Aside from Gorakhnath statue and the tablet from the 11th century there were four smaller shrines to Ganesh. The second floor was often closed off but housed more smaller shrines. Sadly the local municipality has fenced off the remaining religious grounds citing that it was a danger. Considering there were no remaining structures this was called into question by many. This included local people living in the area and the department of archaeology who pointed out that the use of metal poles for the fence have damaged the ground around it. The wood carvings along the buildings struts were of particular note for their craftsmanship. And, again the fact the wooden building had no metal reinforcement yet stood for so long is a testament to its construction or legend. The pavilion is by no means the best example of Newar architectural craftsmanship. It lacks the tundaals (struts supporting the overhanging roofs) that add deep tantric mystique to temples of the later Malla Era and has no carvings and paintings. However what it lacks in stylistic grandeur, Kasthamandap more than makes up in its sheer size and one thousand years of history it captures within its copper-plate inscriptions, statues and rounds of renovations.
Singha Sattal,Gaddi Baithak, Kabindrapur temple
We ended at Singha Sattal on the right with the Kabindrapur temple/shrine opposite. Originally built with wood left over from the Kasthamandap Temple, the squat 700 year old building was called Silengu Sattal (silengu = ‘left over wood’ and sattal = pilgrim hostel) until the addition of the golden-winged singh (lions) that guard each corner of the upper floor (when it became singha= lion). At this point we turned to see the magnificent white Gaddi Baithak, a whitewashed european colonial style building. It looked out of place among the architecture of the surrounding temples and places. Gaddi Baihak was badly damaged during the April 25th earthquake in Nepal and it was announced in 2016 that Gaddi Baihak would be torn down and rebuilt. This is currently being contested by locals who have stated they want it repaired. Gaddi Baihak is actually apart of the royal palace throne room. Built in 1908 during the Rana period it was heavily influenced by the British who liaised with Nepal. The word “gaddi” means throne and “bhaithak” means meeting room and today Gaddi Baihak is used only for special state ceremonies. Around the side is the entrance to Hanuman Doka or the inner palace. The Ranas ruled Nepal 1846-1951 and stood behind the Shah monarchy who remained head of state. The Ranas were very pro-British and helped the British during the Indian rebellion of 1857 and both World Wars. Jang Bahadur Rana was prime minister when Gaddi Baihak was built in what can still be seen as a very definite salute to the British empire.
We then returned looking right, past Kumari Bahal (small covered stall) where two white lion guardian statues stand outside the entrance to Kumari Ghar (Kumari Chowk). Built in 1756 the interior of this three story red brick building is off limits to all but the Kumari’s assistants and guests. The inner courtyard is the only exception. Inside here are ornate wooden windows and panelling, and the top centre is where the Kumari may appear. It is said good luck will befall you if you catch a glimpse of her. There are three main Kumari's in Nepal, all based in Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu city hosts the royal Kumari while Bhaktapur and Patan host the other two Kumari's. Do take your time in the Kumari Ghar examining the unique woodwork that makes up the outer walls of the buildings. It's is unique and very old. If you are here during the Indra Jaya festival you can see her bless the King, or in our case the Prime Minister. The Kumari is a Sakya girl from the Newar community, selected to be town’s living goddess until puberty when she reverts to a normal mortal (although our guide said she oftens finds it hard to adjust and most men are too in awe to marry her). The Kumari Goddess is regarded as the living symbol of devi, the Hindu concept of female spiritual energy. The building is in Buddhist vihara (monastic) style, built in 1757 by Jaya Prakash Malla. In the courtyard is a mini stupa with symbols of Saraswati, goddess of learning. Non-Hindus not allowed beyond the courtyard. A large yellow gate to the right, normally holds the chariot that transports the Kumari around city for Indra Jatra festival.

The word Kumari is derived from Sanskrit Kaumarya "princess". In Nepal, a Kumari is a pre-pubescent girl selected from the Shakya caste or Bajracharya clan of the Nepalese Newari community, and worshipped by the country's Hindus. As of 2017, the Royal Kumari is Trishna Shakya, aged 3, installed in Sept 2017 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy. A Kumari is believed to be the incarnation of Taleju. When her first menstruation begins, the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood also causes loss of deity. Whilst the veneration of a living Kumari in Nepal is relatively recent, dating from the 17th century, the tradition of Kumari-Puja (virgin worship), has been in Nepal since the 6th century. According to a popular legend, King Jayaprakash Malla, the last king of the Malla Dynasty (12th–17th century) and his friend, the goddess Taleju played tripasa, a dice game in his room. The goddess came every night, with the condition that he told no one. But one night his wife followed him to find out who he was meeting. She saw Taleju and the goddess was angered. She told the king that if he wanted to see her again or have her protect his country, he'd have to search for her among the Newari (Shakya) community of Ratnawali, as she would be incarnated as a little girl among them. Another story says that it was king Trailokya Malla who played with Taleju, but when he made sexual advances towards her, she stopped visiting. The king pleaded for her return and she agreed to appear in the body of the virgin girl from the Shakya family. In another version, a king was attracted to young girls. Unfortunately, during sex with a young girl, she died, leaving him guilt-ridden. He concluded the girl had returned to her spiritual goddess nature and declared the creation of the Kumari Devi to remind the world of the sacred nature of young girls and virginity. Even today, a mother's dream of a red serpent is believed to be a portent of the elevation of her daughter to the position of Royal Kumari. A
variation of the legend says that during the reign of King Jayaprakash Malla, a young girl was banished from the city because it was feared that she was possessed by the goddess Durga. When the queen learned of this, she insisted that the king fetch the girl and install her as the living incarnation of Durga.
Kumari courtyard
Once Taleju has left the Kumari, there is a frenzy of activity to find her successor, similar to the process used in Tibet to find the reincarnations of Tulkus, such as the Dalai Lama. Eligible girls are from the Newar Shakya caste of silver and goldsmiths. She must be in excellent health, never have shed blood or been afflicted by disease, be without blemish and not lost any teeth. Girls who pass these basic requirements are examined for the battis lakshanas, or 32 perfections of a goddess, which include; neck like a conch shell, body like a banyan tree, eyelashes like a cow, thighs like a deer, chest like a lion, voice soft and clear as a duck, hair and eyes very black, dainty hands and feet, small and well-recessed sexual organs, 20 teeth. Once the priests have chosen a candidate, she undergoes more rigorous tests to ensure she possesses the qualities necessary to be the living vessel of Durga. On Kalratri, or 'black night', 108 buffaloes and goats are sacrificed to the goddess Kali. The young candidate is taken into the Taleju temple and released into the courtyard, where the severed heads of the animals are illuminated by candlelight. If she truly possesses Taleju, she shows no fear. If she does, another candidate is brought in. The final test is that she must be able to pick out the personal belongings of the previous Kumari from an assortment of things laid out before her.
Garuda statue; Pavilion Bhimsen; Kumari in chariot.
A magnificent Garuda ( Vishnu's eagle mount) statue in front is all that remains of Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple. Built in 1680 and dedicated to Vishnu/Narayan, the Trailokya Mohan was best approached from the opposite side of the Kumari Ghar in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Sadly Trailokya Mohan was completely destroyed during the earthquake. The tall three roofed temple was built on top of a red-brick platform (intact). There was a central staircase leading up the temple. Nearby is Kabindrapur Temple. This wooden temple (pic right), also known as the Dhansa Dega, is an ornate 17th-century performance pavilion that houses the god of music. Behind Basantapur Square (and the former elephant stables) we accessed the (in)famous Freak Street. During the 1960s and early 70s Freak street (Jhochhen Tole - झोछेँ टोल) became a popular hangout place for hippies looking for legal hashish. During this period the government had legalised hashish in Nepal making it a nirvana of sorts. There were even direct buses from the airport to Freak street that bypassed Thamel and Durbar Square just to get hippies to the famous area. After hashish was banned in Nepal, Freak street’s popularity plummeted as trekking took over as Nepal's greatest attraction and tourists moved to more upmarket Thamel. In recent years Freak street has been making a bit of comeback as new restaurants are opening up and there's a small "classic" revival for yesteryear taking place.
We headed around the group Makhan Tole where we were privileged to see the Kumari dressed in yellow coming out on her chariot. We then joined with the festivities in front of the Bhairav idol, before heading out of the square for a break. We found a coffee shop opposite with a rooftop bar that gave great views of all of Durbar Square and we enjoyed watching the Kumari procession from on high.

History of Durbar Square
Licchavi Period- The preference for the construction of royal palaces at this site dates back to as early as the Licchavi period in the 3rd century, although the present palaces and temples have undergone repeated and extensive renovations and nothing physical remains from that period. Names like Gunapo and Gupo, which are the names given to the palaces in the square in early scriptures, imply that the palaces were built by Gunakamadev, a King ruling late in the 10th century. Though there are no written archives, construction of the palace in the square is credited to Sankharadev (1069–83).
Malla Period- When Kathmandu City became independent under the rule of King Ratna Malla (1484–1520), the palaces in the square became the Royal Palaces for its Malla Kings. As the first king of the independent Kathmandu City, Ratna Malla is said to have built the Taleju temple in the Northern side of the palace in 1501. For this to be true the temple would have to have been built in vihara style as part of the palace surrounding Mul Chok courtyard, as no evidence of a separate structure that would match this temple can be found within the square. Construction of Kernel Chok is not documented in any historical inscription, but it is probably the oldest courtyard in the square. Bhagavati (Bhagwati) Temple, originally known as a Narayan Temple, rises above the mansions surrounding it and was added during the time of Jagajaya Malla in the early 18th century. The Narayan idol within the temple was stolen so Prithvi Narayan Shah replaced it with an image of Bhagavati, completely transforming the name of the temple. The oldest temples in the square are those built by Mahendra Malla (1560–74); the temples of Jagannath, Kotilingeswara Mahadev, Mahendreswara, Taleju. The 3-roofed Taleju Temple was established in 1564, in typical Newari architectural style and is elevated on platforms that form a pyramid-like structure. Mahendra Malla, when residing in Bhaktapur, was highly devoted to the Taleju Temple there. The Goddess, pleased with his devotion, gave him a vision asking him to build a temple for her in Kathmandu Durbar Square. With a help of a hermit, he designed the temple to give it its present form and the Goddess entered the temple in the form of a bee. His successors Sadasiva (1575–81), his son, Shiva Simha (1578–1619), and his grandson, Laksmi Narsingha (1619–41), do not seem to have made any major additions to the square. During this period, the only constructions were the establishment of Degutale Temple dedicated to Goddess Mother Taleju by Shiva Simha and enhancement in the royal palace by Laksminar Simha. However, under Pratap Malla, the square was extensively developed. He was a pious devotee, and especially interested in arts. He called himself a Kavindra, king of poets, and boasted he knew 15 languages. Following his coronation, he immediately began enlargements to his royal palace, rebuilt some old temples and constructed new temples, shrines, and stupas around his kingdom. During the construction of his palace, he added a small entrance in the traditional, low and narrow Newari style. The door was elaborately decorated with carvings and paintings of deities and auspicious signs and was later transferred to the entrance of Mohan Chok. In front of the entrance, he placed the statue of Hanuman thinking that Hanuman would strengthen his army and protect his home. The entrance leads to Nasal Chok, the courtyard where most royal events such as coronation, performances, and yagyas (holy fire rituals), take place. It was named after Nasadya, the God of Dance, and during the time of Pratap Malla the sacred mask dance dramas (kham) performed in Nasal Chok were widely famed. In one of these dramas, Pratap Malla himself played the role of Lord Vishnu and it was said that the spirit of Vishnu remained in the king's body after the play. After consulting Tantric leaders, he ordered a stone image of Vishnu in his incarnation as Nara Simha (half- lion/ half-human), and transferred the spirit into the stone (Stone Vishnu Temple). This fine image of Narasimha made in 1673 still stands in the Nasal Chok. In 1650, he commissioned the construction of Mohan Chok. This chowk remained the royal residential courtyard for many years and is believed to store a great amount of treasure under its surface. Pratap Malla also built Sundari Chok at this time. He placed a slab engraved with lines in 15 languages and proclaimed that he who could understand the inscription would produce the flow of milk instead of water from Tutedhara, a fountain set in the outer walls of Mohan Chok. He made extensive donations to temples and had the older ones renovated. Next to the palace, he built a Krishna temple, the Vamsagopala, in an octagonal shape in 1649. He dedicated this temple to his two Indian wives, Rupamati and Rajamati, as both had died during the year it was built. In Mohan Chok, he erected a 3-roof Agamachem temple and a unique temple with 5 superimposing roofs.

After completely restoring Mul Chok in 1670, he donated metal doors to the adjoining Taleju Temple. He rebuilt the Degutale Temple built by his grandfather, Siva Simha, and the Taleju Temple in the palace square. As a substitute to the Indreswara Mahadeva Temple in the distant village of Panauti, he built a Shiva temple, Indrapura, near his palace in the square. He carved hymns on the walls of the Jagannath Temple as prayers to Taleju in the form of Kali. At the southern end of the square, near Kasthamandap at Maru, which was the main city crossroads for early traders, he built another pavilion named Kavindrapura, the mansion of the king of poets. In this mansion, he set an idol of dancing Shiva, Nasadyo, which today is worshipped by dancers. In the process of beautifying his palace, he added fountains, ponds, and baths. In Sundari Chok, he established a low bath with a golden fountain. He built a small pond, the Naga Pokhari, in the palace adorned with Nagakastha, a wooden serpent, which is said he had ordered stolen from the royal pond in Bhaktapur Durbar Square. He restored the Licchavi stone sculptures such as the Jalasayana Narayana, the Kaliyadamana, and the Kala Bhairav. An idol of Jalasayana Narayana was placed in a newly created pond in the Bhandarkhal garden in the eastern wing of the palace. As a substitute to the idol of Jalasayana Narayana in Buddhanilkantha, he channelled water from Buddhanilkantha to the pond in Bhandarkhal. The Kalyadana, a manifestation of Lord Krishna destroying Kaliya, a water serpent, was placed in Kalindi Chok, adjacent to the Mohan Chok. The 10ft high image of terrifyingly portrayed Kal Bhairav was placed near the Jagannath Temple. This image is the focus of worship in the chok, especially during Durga Puja. With the death of Pratap Malla in 1674, building in the square came to a halt. His successors retained relatively little power as ministers took control, and they had no interest in building. Only a few minor constructions were made in the square. These projects included Parthivendra Malla’s temple, the Trilokya Mohan or Dasavatara, dedicated to Lord Vishnu in 1679. A large statue of Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu, was added in front of it a decade later. Parthivendra Malla added a pillar with an image of his family in front of the Taleju Temple. Around 1692, Radhilasmi, the widowed queen of Pratap Malla, erected the tall temples of Shiva known as Maju Deval near the Garuda image in the square. This temple stands on 9 stepped platforms and is one of the tallest buildings in the square. When her son, Bhupalendra Malla, took the throne he banished the widowed queen. After his death at the age of 21 his widowed queen, Bhuvanalaksmi, built a Newari style temple in the square known as Kageswara Mahadev. After the earthquake in 1934, the temple was restored with a dome roof, which was alien to the Newari architecture. Jayaprakash Malla, the last Malla king to rule Kathmandu, built a temple for Kumari and Durga in her virginal state. The temple was named Kumari Bahal and was structured like a typical Newari vihara. In his house resides the Kumari, a girl revered as the living goddess. He made a chariot for Kumari and the detailed terra cotta tiles of the courtyard were laid down. During the Shah dynasty that followed, Durbar Square saw a number of changes. Two of the more unusual temples in the square were built during this time. One is the Nautale, a 9-storied building known as Basantapur Durbar. It has four roofs and stands at the end of Nasal Chok at the East side of the palace. It is said that this building was set as a pleasure house. The lower three stories were made in the Newari farmhouse style. The upper floors have Newari style windows, sanjhya and tikijhya, some slightly projecting from the wall. The other temple is an annex to the Vasantapur Durbar and has 4 stories. It was initially known as Vilasamandira, or Lohom Chok, but is now commonly known as Basantapur or Tejarat Chok. The lower floors of the Basantapur Chok display extensive wood carvings and the roofs are made in popular Mughal style.
Shah Period- When Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded Kathmandu Valley in 1769, he favoured Kathmandu Durbar Square for his palace. Subsequent Shah kings continued to rule from the square until 1896 when they moved to the Narayan Hiti Palace. The square remained the centre of royal events like the coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001. Archives state that Prithivi Narayan Shah built two buildings in 1770. Rana Bahadur Shah was enthroned at the age of two. Bahadur Shah, the second son of Prithvi Narayan Shah, ruled as a regent for his young nephew 1785-94 and built a temple of Shiva Parvati in the square, a single roofed temple in Newari style, remarkably similar to previous temples built by the Mallas. It is rectangular in shape and enshrines the Navadurga, a group of goddesses, on the ground floor. It has a wooden image of Shiva and Parvati at the window of the upper floor, looking out at the passersby in the square. Another significant donation made during the time of Rana Bahadur Shah is the metal-plated head of Swet Bhairav near the Degutale Temple, donated during the festival of Indra Jatra in 1795. It continues to play a major role during the festival every year. This 12ft high face of Bhairav is concealed behind a latticed wooden screen for the rest of the year. Following this Rana Bahadur donated a huge bronze bell as an offering to the Goddess Taleju. Together with the beating of the huge drums donated by his son Girvan Yudha, the bell was rung every day during the daily ritual worship of the goddess. However, after the death of his beloved third wife Kanimati Devi to smallpox, Rana Bahadur Shah turned mad with grief and had many images of gods and goddesses smashed including the Taleju statue and bell, and Sitala, the goddess of smallpox. In 1908, a palace, Gaddi Durbar, was built in European architectural design. The Rana Prime Ministers who had taken power from the Shahs Kings 1846-1951 were highly influenced by European styles. The Gaddi Durbar is covered in white plaster, has Greek columns and adjoins a large audience hall, all foreign features to
Nepali architecture. The balconies of this durbar were reserved for the royal family during festivals to view the square below. Some of the parts of the square like Hatti Chok near the Kumari Bahal were removed during restoration after the 1934 earthquake.
On finishing our walk we headed back on a slightly different route via Gangalal Marg (street) past Naradevi Bhajan Sthal (Nara devi temple aka Niyata Maru Ajima)- picture left. This unprepossessing (from the exterior) temple is one of the oldest in Kathmandu. One of the finest examples of

Newari architecture, Nara Devi temple is a three storied Pagoda style temple that attracts thousands of visitors each day. Nara Devi is composed of two terms, ‘Nara’ meaning ‘human’ and ‘Devi’ meaning ‘goddess’, hence, Nara Devi means the ‘goddess of human being’. Nara is a manifestation of Kali (Shiva’s wrathful consort). The people of Newar community call the goddess Ajima, which means mother. The temple is built according to the Ying principle of female energy. It is said that by worshiping here, people get power, courage, etc. The roof and the walls are carved with the images of various Hindu gods and goddesses. The temple is crowded with the devotees during the time of Navaratri and Dashain. The statue of the goddess inside is a beautiful piece of Newari sculpture. It is because of these temples that Kathmandu valley is known as the valley of temple. Nara Devi is also Kula Devi (familial deity) of some of the Newar community who believe in the power of the goddess and say that the goddess has protected them from various disasters. The goddess protects human from weakness. It is also said that she comes to the dreams of her devotees and tell them about upcoming dangers, problems, etc. She is also the protector of Kathmandu valley. I asked if I could go in and quickly had a look (and obligatory blessing).
Passing various smaller shrines (Kathmandu appears to have one every few metres) we came back up to Amrit Marg to Bikramashila Mahabihar (Bhagwan Bahal), said to be over 1,000 years old, though it has been rebuilt on many occasions over this period. There is a temple to Ajima beside the Bahal but the deity shrine is long gone. Inside, Bhagwan Bahal contains the manuscript Swayambhu Puran, one of the oldest manuscripts narrating the story of Kathmandu Valley. Bhagwan is the god, bahal means square. Bhagavān (Bhagwan or Bhagawan) is an epithet for deity, particularly for Krishna and other avatars of Vishnu in Vaishnavism, as well as for Shiva in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism, and is used by Jains to refer to the Tirthankaras, particularly Mahavira and by Buddhists to refer to the Buddha. Bhagavān can therefore also represent the concept of abstract God to Hindus who are religious but do not worship a specific deity. Bhagwan Bahal has a close relationship with the Kathmandu Kumari who visits here once a year. Opposite the monastery are tiny shrines surrounded by motorcycles.
Facing Bhagwan Bahal we went right and on past the next junction north, where there was a small Sunken Ganesh Shrine lodged into the steps below a pavement. Then on north as the road crooked right to another junction and to the left a small shrine with a roof, dedicated to Ganesh. Though the concrete building is not interesting we went up close to the deity statue below street level. The statue of Ganesh is very detailed and was worth a closer look.

We finished our walk back at the hotel and after a brief rest decided to wander Thamel for some retail therapy. We had spotted some T-shirts we wanted and quickly did a deal on the yak, yak, yeti T-shirts that are maybe clichéd but still amusing. A local jeweller was a next stop to purchase some earrings which we agreed to collect at the end of the holiday. The sun sets quickly in Thamel, but shopping continues until 10 pm, so it was later than expected when we found ourselves hungry. Not wanting the same restaurant we wandered Thamel until we found a restaurant (Baardali) that looked like it was upstairs until the lady suggested their garden at the back. Great find and only locals sitting at the 5 table area with pond and resident cats. We had the Nepali set menu, very nice, which included a beer (Everest for Steve) or wine (a local sweetish red for me).

Posted by PetersF 07:30 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal kathmandu hindu kumari indra jatra Comments (0)

Kathmandu to Pokhara

along the Trisuli

View Himalayas on PetersF's travel map.

September 25th Kathmandu to Pokhara

We were up fairly early as requested and soon set off for Pokhara. Initially we made good time, and then.... we were in a massive traffic jam to go up and over the pass. Finally, we were out of Kathmandu Valley and on our way. The scenery was exceptionally pretty as we wound along the river valley with its green clad hills lining it. Small hamlets were strung along the opposite side, accessed only by rope bridges. We stopped for lunch at a pretty (though sadly not good food) restaurant, Hamlet restaurant. We decided against the dodgy buffet (sensibly as it turned out as the 2 who did were ill), but our order was forgotten instead. Hmm, not impressed.

Then we continued along the river banks. A note here on Nepal driving. The maxim here is “who dares, wins”, by which I mean anyone can try to overtake any time, be it half way down a traffic jam on the wrong side of the road, round a blind corner, up a hill at 0.1% faster than the car you are overtaking, with or without brakes (yes, really, we watched a car being chokked as it went uphill).... Hmm, you get the picture.
The crystal river we followed by was the Trishuli (lit 3-tri, shuli-stream). It had numerous sandbanks where we saw people washing, or setting off in canoes and rafts, exciting rapids (hence the rafts) and plenty of wildlife. Trishuli River (त्रिशूली नदी) is one of the major tributaries of the Narayani River basin in central Nepal. It originates in Tibet as a stream and enters Nepal at Gyirong Town. The Trishuli is named after the trishula or trident of Shiva. There is a legend that says high in the Himalayas at Gosaikunda, Shiva drove his trident into the ground to create three springs; the source of the river and hence its name Trisuli. Trishuli River is made up of snow melt from Mt. Ganesh and Langtang Himal. En route KK pointed out the cable car to Manakamana Temple (after which their company was named). Manakamana Temple (मनकामना मन्दिर) in the Gorkha district is the sacred place of the Hindu Goddess Bhagwati, an incarnation of Parvati. The name Manakamana originates from two words,“mana” meaning heart and “kamana” meaning wish. Venerated since the 17th century, it is believed that Manakamana grants the wishes of all those who make the pilgrimage to her shrine to worship her. The legend of Manakamana dates back to the reign of the Gorkha king Ram Shah in the 17th century. It is said that his queen possessed divine powers, which only the devotee Lakhan Thapa knew about. One day, the king witnessed her Goddess incarnation, and Lakhan Thapa in the form of a lion. Upon mentioning the revelation to his queen, a mysterious death befell the king. In the custom of the time, the queen committed Sati (ritual immolation) on her husband’s funeral pyre, but assured Lakhan Thapa that she would reappear in the near future. Six months later, a farmer ploughing his fields cleaved a stone and saw blood and milk flow from it. Lakhan heard of this event, and immediately started performing Hindu tantric rituals were the stone had been discovered. The site became the foundation of the present shrine. According to tradition, the priest at the temple must be a descendent of Lakhan Thapa. Once the only way to reach Manakamana Temple was a strenuous 3 hour trek, but now there is a cable car from Kurintar, 5 km east of Mugling to Manakamana. The cable car, bought in 1998, covers 2.8 km in 10 minutes. It was imported from Austria and guarantees a 100% safety with automatically operated generators in case of power failure and hydraulic emergency drive.
Soon after this we left the Trishuli river behind as we continued along the Prithvi Highway. We followed a smaller river, Marsyangdi, for a while before turning away from it, with a lot of small villages and open grasslands, as well as some larger villages/ small towns. Farming is still practised by over 50% of the population, whether as large scale or small holdings (and many people in Kathmandu retain farms elsewhere). The agriculture was mainly rice, with wheat, barley and millet in suitable areas. We also saw sugar cane, bamboo, potatoes and a lot of banana plantations. As it was harvest season for rice we saw loads of rice straw stacks, which look a bit like small huts. Passing through the Himalayan foothills we enjoyed the forest clad slopes, some with terraced rice paddies, but many left pristine. Eventually we reached Pokhara and checked in to the Kailash Resort Hotel, http://www.mountkailashresort.com which had a very inviting pool. Steve decided on a rest, but I fancied a walk after being stuck in the car and KK offered an afternoon/evening stroll. We set off along Lakeside Road (obviously along Phewa/ Fewa Lake) to Phewa Taal viewpoint to watch the sun go down. A pretty place to watch from as we could see the Himalayas in the distance,across the lake to the hills and Tal Barahi island monastery. As the darkness rose the fireflies came out to complete the picturesqueness. We carried on along the main road (which leaves the lake slightly behind) as the shop lights all came on. We finished at Monsoon restaurant, which KK recommended for the next day.

As we walked back I clocked a show in a restaurant close to the hotel and collected Steve to go for a meal there. This was Lake View Restaurant, http://www.lakeviewpokhara.com who gave us a front view table for the excellent show. The food was great too, mainly local fish; delicious, with lovely cocktails for a chilled evening. The Traditional Cultural Show was a 2 1⁄2 hour programme showcasing Nepali folk dances, traditional Instruments and ethnic songs. Some of the dances are associated with special occasions and ceremonies. It was very interesting to see the various cultural influences in Nepal, which as a landlocked country has people for different groups. We saw dances with obvious Indian influence (the Charya), others with distinctly Chinese themes, and others again with a Gurkha background (Khukuri Nach).
Then we had a stroll through the town before heading to bed.
Some early history of Nepal
In an Licchavi-era inscription found in Tistung, the local people are the 'Nepals', considered the progenitors of modern-day Newars. 'Nepal' and 'Newar' are variants. Suggestions are:-

  • Nep are cow herders (gopal) from the Ganges Plain
  • Sanskrit nepalaya means "at the foot of the mountains”
  • Tibetan niyampal means "holy land”
  • Tibetan, ne means "wool" and pal "house". Thus, Nepalis "house of wool"
  • Lepcha words ne ("holy") and pal ("cave")
  • Buddhist legend, the deity Manjusri drained the water from Nagadaha (mythical lake said to have filled Kathmandu Valley). The valley was ruled then by Bhumigupta, a cow- herder, who took advice from a sage named "Ne". Pāla means “protector"

Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic sites have been discovered in the Siwalik hills of Dang District. The earliest inhabitants of Nepal were Dravidian people from the Indus Valley Civilisation whose history predates the Bronze Age in South Asia (c 3300 BC), followed by ethnic groups of Tibeto Burmans and Indo-Aryans. Tharu, mixed Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic are the forest-dwelling natives of Cental Terai (Chitwan) region of Nepal. The Newars (=Nepal) are among the earliest inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley. The Kirat people arrived in north Nepal from Tibet some 2000 years ago. Other ethnic groups of Indo-Aryan origin later migrated to southern Nepal from India. The Nepalese are descendants of 3 major migrations from India, Tibet, and Central Asia. The ancestors of the Brahman and Chetri caste groups came from India, while other ethnic groups trace their origins to Central Asia and Tibet, including the Gurungs and Magars in the west, Rais and Limbus in the east, the Sherpas and Bhotias in the north. Legends and documented references reach to the 30th century BC. The presence of historical sites, e.g. Valmikiashram, indicates the presence of the ancient Sanatana Hindu culture in parts of Nepal in this period. According to legends, the rulers of Nepal were the gopãlavamśi/Gopal bansa (Cowherd family), who are said to have ruled for 491 years, followed by the mahaiśapālavamśa/ Avir(Ahir) (Buffalo-herder Dynasty), established by a Rajput, Bhul Singh. It may be the two were the same dynasty, split by dynastic in-fighting.
Gopal Bansa/Gwalvansh was a dynasty in ancient Nepal, probably in the Kathmandu Valley. Gopals are credited with the discovery of the Pashupatinath volcanic mound in ancient Nepal, which became the location of the Pashupatinath temple. They inhabited Kathmandu valley c1400-700 BC. Dates are according to a rough estimate of a time after the Kurukshetra War to a time of the earliest documented Kirat King Humati (7th C). According to legend, the Gopals were settled here by Lord Krishna during Dwapara Yuga (the third of the four Yuggas, or ages of the universe). During this time it is said that the city was destroyed in battle. This dynasty was characterised by small-scale subsistence farming and cow husbandry.
Mahispalor Avir Dynasty. According to the Gopal Dynasty genealogy, 3 kings:- Barsingh, Jaya Singh, Bhuwan Singh ruled for 49 years, 71 years and 41 years respectively making 161 years of Mahispal Dynasty in Nepal.
Kirat Dynasty ruled in Nepal before the Licchavi Dynasty and after Mahispal/ Avir Dynasty. The Kirats were from the north-eastern Himalayas, arriving 200/ 25000 years ago. According to Baburam Acharya, they came to Nepal c 700 BC and ruled over it. They had short robust bodies, broad checks, flat noses, thin whiskers, and dark eyes. They were well trained in warfare, and were skilful archers. They were the ancestors of the present day Kiratas: Kulung, Thulung and Yelling. Yalamber/ Yalung, the first Kirati king of Nepal belonged to the Yellung clan. He defeated Bhuvan Singh, the last king of Ahir dynasty and established Kirat rule in Nepal. Altogether, there were 29 kings of this dynasty who ruled Nepal for about 1225 years. According to the chronicle Bamsavali, Kiratas ruled Nepal c900 BC- 300 AD. On the basis of the Puranas and other ancient religious texts, it is presumed the Kiratas ruled Nepal after Gopal and Mahipal (Avir). Mentioning the area between Sun Kosi and Tama Kosi (Ganges delta) as their native and, the list of Kirati kings is also given in the Gopal genealogy. By defeating the last king of Avir Dynasty Bhuwansingh in a battle, Kirati King Yalung/Yalamber took the valley under his control. In Hindu mythology, this event is believed to have taken place in the final phase of Dwaparyug or initial phase of Kaliyug c 6th century BC. Yalamber (Yalambar, Yalamwar, Yalamver (यलम्बर) shifted his capital from Yalung to Thankot (suburb Kathmandu) after conquering Central Nepal and his kingdom extended from river Trisuli (west) to river Teesta (east). The epic Mahabharata mentions the Kiratas tribe among the inhabitants of Nepal. Yalambar was slain in the battle of the Mahabharata, in which gods and mortals fought alongside each other. Legend credits him with meeting Indra, lord of heaven, who ventured into the Valley in human guise. Lord Krishna, knowing the intention of Yalamber and the strength of the Kiratas, thought the war would be prolonged if Yalamber sided with the Kauravas, so he cut off Yalamber's head. In his honour Indrajatra began and his head worshipped as god Akash Bhairav. According to Mahabharata, kirat kings (Shree) were (by name/ reign):-
Soma Dynasty Gasti was the last Kirati king, defeated c 300AD by Soma king, Nimisha c205, and Kirati rule came to an end. The Soma had established a principality in the west while Kirati kings ruled the Nepal valley. He was succeeded by Mitakshya, Kakaverma, and Pashuprekshva Dev c270AD. The Soma kings attacked several times during the reign of Patuka/Khurangja, but they could not defeat him. The last Kirati king, Gasti, was comparatively weak, so he was defeated by Nimisha, who became the first Soma king c AD 205. Bhaskerverma 280-305, was the 5th and last Soma king to rule Nepal. It was he who led a military expedition which reached Rameswaram, the southernmost part of India. He amassed a vast wealth in treasure from this campaign, and used it to make a gold- plated roof for the temple of Pashupatinath and develop the economics of his kingdom. He filled Devapatan with his wealth and named it ‘Swarnapuri’. He was childless, so he made Bhumi Verma his heir. A member of the Lichchhavi dynasty, this meant that the Soma dynasty had come to an end.

Licchavi (Lichchhava) Dynasty The kings of Lichhavi dynasty originated from Vaishali (Bihar, India) and ruled Nepal after the Kirat monarchs. The Suryavansi Kshetriyas had established new regime by defeating the Kirats, as found in some genealogies and Puranas. It is written in Gopal genealogy that 'defeating the Kirat King the Lichhavi dynasty was established in Nepal'. However, different genealogies state different names of the last Kirati King as Khigu, Galiz and Gasti. During the time of Gautama Buddha, the kings of Lichchhavi dynasty were ruling over Baisali (Muzaffarpur, Bihar). Baisali had a partly democratic form of government. The language of Licchavi inscriptions is Sanskrit, and the particular script used is closely related to official Gupta scripts, suggesting that major kingdoms to the south in the Classical Period were a significant cultural influence. According to the later (730) inscription by King Jaya Dev II, Supushpa was the founder of the dynasty, but he was defeated by Ajatsatru, the powerful Magadha king, in the 5th century BC. Later, as the kings of the Kushan dynasty became powerful in India c100AD, the Lichchhavis migrated to Nepal. The 24th descendant of King Supushpa, Jaya Dev II, established the rule of the Lichchhavis in Nepal. This branch of the Lichhavi clan, having lost their political fortune in Bihar, came to Kathmandu, attacking and defeating the last Kirat King, Gasti. Brisha Dev was a powerful member of the dynasty who greatly extended his territory. Chandra Gupta I, the Gupta Indian emperor, was alarmed by the rise of Brisha Dev, but preserved his sovereignty by politics rather than warfare. He visited Nepal and married Kumara Devi, the daughter of Brisha Dev. Kumara Devi gave birth to Chandra Gupta’s successor, Samundra Gupta. Some historians think Bhasker Verma, not Brisha Dev, was the father of Kumara Devi. Mana Deva is the first king of Nepal with historical authenticity. An inscription of M#nadeva, dated 464, mentions 3 preceding rulers, suggesting the Licchavi dynasty in Nepal began in the late 4th century. The Licchavi were ruled by a Maharaja (great king), aided by a prime minister, in charge of the military and other ministers. Nobles, known as samanta influenced the court whilst managing their own landholdings and militia. At one point, between 650 and 641, a prime minister called Amshuverma actually assumed the throne.
" In Bihar: 185 Jayavarmā (Jayadeva I)
" In Nepal c.305 Vasurāja (Vasudatta Varmā/ Bhumiverma)
" c. 400 Vṛṣadeva (Vishvadeva)
" c. 425 Shaṅkaradeva I
" c. 450 Dharmadeva
" 464-505 Mānadeva I (son of Dharmadeva) was a child. Taking advantage, Thakuri governors (east provinces) rebelled, but Mana Deva defeated them. With his uncle’s help he extended his rule up to the Himalayas.
" 505-506 Mahīdeva (few sources)
" 506-532 Vasantadeva (Basantadeva)
" Manadeva II (probable chronology)
" 538 Vāmanadeva (Vardhamānadeva)
" 545 Rāmadeva
" Amaradeva
" Guṇakāmadeva
" 560-565 Gaṇadeva
" 567-c. 590 Bhaumagupta (Bh"migupta, probably not a king)
" 567-573 Gaṅgādeva
" 575/576 Mānadeva II (few sources)
" 590-604 Shivadeva I (supplanted by PM Amshuvarma)
Thakura Period 605-621 Shivadeva’s PM Amshuvarmā married his daughter and became the power behind the throne. When his father-in-law Shivadeva died he became sole sovereign and began a new dynasty of Thakura (Amshuverma was of the Thakuri clan). The older son of Shivadeva, Udayadeva I fled to Tibet in 621, to become king in exile. His rule is regarded as a golden age for Nepal.
Avir Period After the death of Amshuverma, Usay Dev I (621-24), son of Shivadeva, took the throne. He was dethroned by his brother, Dhurba Dev and fled to Tibet, taking shelter with SrongTsang Gampo. Jisnu Gupta, chief of the Avir dynasty, put Shivadeva’s younger son, Dhruvadeva/ DhrubDev, on the throne as puppet king 631-635 before taking the royal title himself 635-40. Dhurba Dev ruled from Mangriha and Jisnu Gupta from Kailashkut Bhavan. Administrative authority was in the hands of Jisnu with Kailashkut Bhavan the administrative centre of the country (dual government). Eventually, Jisnu Gupta became de-facto ruler, minting coins in his name as Amshuverma had done, and declared himself king of Nepal. His rule was a golden period with the opening of trade routes (his daughter married an Indian king), economic reforms and industrialisation. His son Vis"n"ugupta (Bishnugupta) 640/1 continued as the power behind throne (now held by Bhīmārjunadeva, a descendant of Amshuverma)
Licchavi Dynasty restored The re-establishment of the Lichchhavi line was through the offices of Tibet. "c 630 Udayadeva II (Uday Dev II, king in exile in Tibet, his daughter married Tibetan emperor)
"643-679/83 Narendradeva, son Uday Dev, regains throne with Tibetan King Srong-Tsang-Gompo’s help, took revenge for his father and restored his ancestral throne by defeating Bishnu Gupta. He ended the double rule and became 7th king of the Lichchhavi dynasty. He brought the deity Machchhendranath from Kamrup in India.
"694/84-705 Shivadeva II (son Narendradeva, married Betsadevi daughter of King Bhogaverma of Magadha)
"713-733/29 Jayadeva II (son Shivadeva II)
"c729 Aramundi/ Baradeva (son Jayadeva II) Aramudi made Lalitpatan (Patan) his capital.
"748-749 Sha(karadeva II
"756 Mānadeva III
"826 Balirāja
"847 Baladeva
"877 Mānadeva IV
Thakuri Dynasty was a Rajput Dynasty. After Amshuvarma, the Thakuri clan lost power and regained it only in 869. King Raghava Deva (879-?) founded a ruling dynasty in 879, when Lichhavi rule came to an end. To commemorate this event, Raghu Deva started the 'Nepal Era'. After his death, Thakuri kings ruled Southern Nepal up to the mid 12th c. Gunakama Deva (949-994) was one of the more famous. During his rule, a big wooden house was built out of a single tree which was called 'Kasthamandapa', from which 'Kathmandu', is derived. Gunakama Deva founded Kantipur (Kathmandu) town and started the Indra Jatra festival. He repaired the temple to the north of Pashupatinath. Bhola Deva (994-1024) succeeded Gunakama Deva and after him Laxmikama Deva (1024-40), who introduced the custom of worshipping a virgin girl as 'Kumari'. Vijayakama Deva (1040-), the son of Laksmikama, was the last ruler of the dynasty. After his death, the Thakuri clan of Nuwakot took the throne of Nepal.
Nuwakot Thakuri Kings Bhaskara Deva (c1050) a Thakuri from Nuwakot, succeeded Vijayakama Deva and established Nuwakot-Thakuri rule. After Bhaskara Deva, four kings of this line ruled over the country; Bala Deva, Padma Deva, Nagarjuna Deva, Shankara Deva. Shankara Deva (1067–80) was the most illustrious. During his time, the Buddhists wreaked vengeance on Hindu Brahmins (especially followers of Shaivism). Shankara Deva tried to pacify the Brahmins.
Suryavansi (Solar Thakuri Dynasty) Bama Deva, a descendant of Amshuvarma, defeated Shankar Deva in 1080, suppressed the Nuwakot- Thankuris with the help of nobles and restored the Solar Thakuri Dynasty. Harsha Deva, Bama Deva’s successor was a weak ruler and the nobles soon reasserted themselves. Taking the opportunity Nanya Deva, a Karnat dynasty king, attacked Nepal but was defeated. After Harsha Deva, Shivadeva III (1099 -1126), a powerful king, founded Kirtipur town, roofed Pashupatinath temple with gold, constructed wells, canals, and tanks (hiti). He was succeeded by Mahendra Deva, Mana Deva, Narendra Deva II, Ananda Deva, Rudra Deva, Amrita Deva, Ratna Deva II, Somesvara Deva, Gunakama Deva II, Lakmikama Deva III and Vijayakama Deva II (-1200) in quick succession. After the fall of the Thakuri dynasty, a new dynasty was founded by Arideva or Ari Malla, known as the Malla Dynasty.
Simroun, Karnat, Dev Dynasty originated with an establishment of a kingdom in 1097 at present day Simroun- garh in Bara District. The kingdom controlled the areas we today know as Mithila, Nepal and Bihar, India.
" Nanya Dev 1097-1147
" Ganga Dev 1147-87
" Narsingh Dev 1187-1227
" Ramsingh Dev 1227-85
" Shaktisingh Dev 1285-95
" Harisingh Dev 1295-1324
In 1324 CE, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq attacked Simroungarh. The king fled northwards into Nepal. The son of Harisingh Dev, Jagatsingh Dev married the widow princess of Bhaktapur Nayak Devi.

Posted by PetersF 07:32 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal kathmandu pokhara Comments (0)

Pokhara and Sarangot

Sunrise, waterfalls, temples and lakes

View Himalayas on PetersF's travel map.

September 26th Nepal: Pokhara (our anniversary)

We woke very early and took the car at once to drive through Pokhara and up to Sarangkot in the dark. We drove up the winding hill to the makeshift car park, then walked up the steps to the lookout point (also a cafe) to await dawn. Sadly, although really atmospheric, with the mist rising through the forest and up over the hills, the snowy Himalayan peaks struggled to make an appearance. However as the sun rose and burned off the clouds it became a beautiful sunrise, all pinks and reds and oranges and yellows... A perfect time to give each other our anniversary cards! As we began to drive down KK suddenly stopped and told us to get out so we could see the Himalayas which had now appeared.

The mountains of Sarangot
From the far west it was Nilgri North, Tilicho, Annapurna range: Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Himchuli, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhre (Fishtail 6997m), Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Annapurna II (7937m), Lamjung Himal (6983m), Manaslu, Dhaulagiri Range (8167m)
The Nilgiri Himal is a range of three peaks in the Annapurna massif in Nepal. It is composed of Nilgiri North (7061 m), Nilgiri Central (6940 m) and Nilgiri South (6839 m). Tilicho Peak is a mountain in the Nepalese Himalaya, near Annapurna. The peak was discovered in 1950 while attempting to find Annapurna I. Lake Tilicho is located on the northern side of the peak.
Annapurna Annapurna (अन्न्नपूरूर्ण्णा) is a massif in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal that includes one peak over 8,000 m, 13 peaks over 7,000 m, and 16 over 6,000 m. The massif is 55 km long, and bounded by the Kali Gandaki Gorge on the west, Marshyangdi River on the north and east, and Pokhara Valley on the south. At the western end the massif encloses a high basin called the Annapurna Sanctuary. Annapurna I Main is the 10th highest mountain in the world at 8091 m above sea level, and the first of the Eight-thousanders to be climbed (1950). Its summit was the highest summit attained for 3 years, until the first successful ascent of Mount Everest (although higher non-summit points of at least 8,500 metres- had already been attained on Everest in the 1920s). Annapurna is a Sanskrit name that means "(She who is) Replete with food", but is normally translated as Goddess of Harvests. Her association with the giving of food (wealth) led her in time to be transformed into Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.
The Annapurna massif contains six prominent peaks over 7,200 m: Annapurna I (Main) 8091m Ranked 10th; Annapurna II 7937m Ranked 16th; Annapurna III 7555m Ranked 42nd; Annapurna IV 7525m; Gangapurna 7455m Ranked 59th; Annapurna South 7219m Ranked 101st
Less prominent peaks in the Annapurna Himal inc: Annapurna I Central 8051m; Annapurna I East 8010m; Annapurna Fang 7647m; Khangsar Kang 7485m; Tarke Kang 7202m; Lachenal Peak 7140m; Tilicho Peak 7135m; Nilgiri Himal North 7061m; Central 6940m; South 6839m; Machhapuchchhre 6993m; Hiunchuli 6441m; Gandharba Chuli 6248 m
Gangapurna was first climbed in 1965 by a German expedition led by Günther Hauser, via the East Ridge. Annapurna South (also known as Annapurna Dakshin, or Moditse) was first climbed in 1964 by a Japanese expedition, via the North Ridge. Hiunchuli (6,441 m/21,126 ft) is a satellite peak extending east from Annapurna South, Hiunchuli was first climbed in 1971 by an expedition by Americans.
Annapurna South (left) and Hiunchuli (right) from the south
Hiunchuli (6,441 m) is a satellite peak extending east from Annapurna South. It was first climbed in 1971. Between this peak and Machapuchare is a narrow section of the Modi Khola valley that provides the only access to the Annapurna Sanctuary.
Mount Machhapuchchhre (6,993m), named after its resemblance to a fish-tail, is an important peak, though it just misses the 7,000 metre mark. Mount Machhapuchchhre and Hiunchuli are prominently visible from the valley of Pokhara. These peaks are the "gates" to the Annapurna Sanctuary leading to the south face of Annapurna I. Mount Machhapuchchhre was climbed in 1957 (except the final 50 metres for its local religious
sanctity). Since then it has been off limits. Machapuchare, Machhapuchchhre or Machhapuchhre (from Nepali माछापुच्रे or “fishtail”) is a mountain in the Annapurna Himalayas of north-central Nepal. It is revered by the local population as particularly sacred to the god Shiva, and hence is off limits to climbing. Machapuchare is at the end of a long spur ridge, coming south out of the main backbone of the Annapurna Himalayas, which forms the eastern boundary of the Annapurna Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a favorite trekking destination, and the site of the base camps for the South Face of Annapurna and for numerous smaller objectives. The peak is about 25 km north of Pokhara. Due to its southern position in the range, and the particularly low terrain south of the Annapurna Himalayas, Machapuchare commands tremendous vertical relief in a short horizontal distance. This, combined with its steep, pointed profile, make it a particularly striking peak, despite a lower elevation than some of its neighbors. Its double summit resembles the tail of a fish, hence the name meaning "fish's tail" in Nepalese. It is also nicknamed the "Matterhorn of Nepal”.
Lamjung Himal and Manaslu
Lamjung Himal (6983m) is the first eastern high peak on the ridge of Annapurnas. Because it lacks only a few meters to seven thousand and looks from almost all sides more like just a massive wall rather than a distinctive peak, it is not a well known mountain.
Manaslu (Nepali:मानसलु also known as Kutang) is the eighth highest mountainin the world at 8163 metres above sea level. It is located in the Mansiri Himal, part of the Nepalese Himalayas, in the west-central part of Nepal. Its name, which means "mountain of the spirit", comes from the Sanskrit manasa, "intellect" or "soul". Manaslu was first climbed on May 9, 1956 by Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu, members of a Japanese expedition. It is said that "just as the British consider Everest their mountain, Manaslu has always been a Japanese mountain". Manaslu is the highest peak in the Gorkha District and located 64 km east of Annapurna. The mountain's long ridges and valley glaciers offer feasible approaches from all directions, and culminate in a peak that towers steeply above its surrounding landscape, and is a dominant feature when viewed from afar. There are two ethnicities in in this region, Nubri and Tsum. The branching of the river at Chhikur divides the two ethnic domains. While Nubri has been frequently visited after Nepal opened itself for the tourism, Tsum retains its traditional culture, art, and tradition. In the central hills of the region, Gurungs are the main ethnic group who have joined the Brigade of Gurkhas in large numbers. Closer to Tibet, the Bhutias (Bhotias), akin to the Sherpa group, of Tibetan ethnicity dominate the scene as can be discerned from their flat roofed houses, and they are distinctly Buddhists. The region is dotted with austere monasteries, mani walls, chortens and other Buddhist religious landmarks.
The Dhaulagiri massif extends 120 km from Kaligandaki River west to Bheri River and on the southeast by Myagdi Khola. Dhaulagiri I is the 7th highest mountain in the world at 8167m above sea level, and the highest mountain within the borders of a single country (Nepal). The mountain's name is धौलागिरी (dhaul!gir") in Nepali, from Sanskrit धवल (dhawala, dazzling/ white) and गिरि (giri, mountain). Dhaulagiri I is also the highest point of the Gandaki river basin. Annapurna I (8091m) is 34 km east of Dhaulagiri I. Kali Gandaki River flows between the two in Kaligandaki Gorge, the world's deepest.

A note on Pokahra
Pokhara has spectacular scenery, adventure and food choices galore. Lakeside Pokhara is the perfect place to recharge on the shores of the tranquil lake. Seti Gandaki (White River) in the main river flowing through the city and its tributaries have created gorges and canyons around Pokhara that give long sections of terrace features interrupted by gorges 100s of metres deep. Seti gorge runs through Pokhara north to south. Pokhara, the city of lakes, is the second largest city of Nepal. Three 8,000m peaks (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu) can be seen from city. Machhapuchchhre (Fishtail) 6,993 m is closest.
Pokhara lies on the major old trading route from China to India. In the 17th century it was part of the Kingdom of Kaski, one of Chaubisi Rajya (24 Kingdoms of Nepal) ruled by a branch of the Shah Dynasty, and many of the hills around still have medieval ruins. Pokhara was seen as a commercial centre by the King of Kaski in the mid 18th century when Newars of Bhaktapur migrated to Pokhara and settled near business locations by Bindhyabasini temple, Nalakomukh and Bhairab Tole. Pokhara at the time inhabited by Khas (Brahmin, Chhetri, Thakuri, Dalits). In 1786 Prithvi Narayan Shah added Pokhara to his kingdom. Establishment of British recruitment camp brought Magar and Gurung communities to Pokhara. At present the Khas, Gurung (Tamu) and Magar form the dominant communities of Pokhara, with a sizeable Newari population. A small Muslim community lives on the eastern fringes of Pokhara in a place called Miya Patan. Batulechaur in far north of Pokhara is home to Gandharvas/ Gaaineys (tribe of musicians). Nearby hill villages see a mix of Khas and Gurung. Newars are non-existent outside Pokhara city itself.
f07abc40-bb08-11eb-b398-9114edaee0db.pngf0719480-bb08-11eb-a609-9531effd1019.pngFishtail (Machhapuchhre) Mt and Annapurna III; right Annapurna III
We headed back to Pokhara and parked outside Bindabashini (Bindabasini/ Bindhbasini) Temple in the north of the city. A short pedestrianised walk (with loads of stalls) and a walk up some steps took us to a terrace containing the temple complex. Located near the busy Old Bazaar of Pokhara, the temple stands proudly 1000m above the sea level along the Annapurna and Machhapuhhare Himalayan Range.
Bindhyabasini temple is linked to the famous Bindhyabasini temple in Bindhyachal, Uttar Pradesh. It is believed that King Siddhi Narayan Shah (pre-regnal name Khadag Bam Malla) of Kaski brought the deity (idol) to Pokhara in 1788 (1845 BS) shortly before Nepal’s unification. Bindabasini (a form of the Hindu goddess Durga) is the guardian deity of Pokhara and of great religious value to the Hindus living there. This form of Durga residing in the Bindabasini temple is Bhagawati, a blood-thirsty aspect of the goddess. Large numbers of devotees throng to the temple during the festival of Bada Dashain. The beautiful white pagoda style temple of Bindabasini in the terrace centre is surrounded by a park-like setting. There were a number of temples and shrines to see, including a rather nice one to Rama (with Sita) and Krishna (7th and 8th avatars of Vishnu, respectively). Many people come to visit the temple, picnic with family and indulge in the breathtaking view of Pokhara bazaar from the hill. There was a sacred tree at the corner with a majestic view of snow clad mountains behind (though difficult to see now). The fresh scent of the incense sticks in the temple gave a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. There were fewer prayer wheels here, but plenty of bells to sound. This is one of the most important holy places for the Hindus in Nepal. Steve rang the bells and I joined the (mainly women) line to view (be blessed by) Bindabashini’s idol.

Important Nepali deities
Ganesha is a very popular god in Hinduism, and is one of the most worshipped, especially in Nepal. Hindu tradition states that Ganesha is a god of wisdom, success and good luck. He is also giver of different types of favours. The Hindu tradition calls Ganesha the lord of obstacles. Thus, Hindu tradition states that by worshiping Ganesha, one can remove obstacles and difficulties. There are many temples (mandirs) of Ganesha, however in many Hindu temples there are statues and carvings. But, in most of the temples of Hindus, people worship Ganesha. Generally, Hindus worship Ganesha before starting any new thing. Thus, for example, before occupying a new house, they may worship Ganesha. Likewise, before starting any new business, many Hindus may worship Ganesha for good luck. There are two stories about how he was born.
● One day, the Goddess Parvati was taking a bath at home and did not want anyone to disturb her. She created a boy with her powers, and told him to guard her and not let anyone in. When Lord Shiva came home, he wanted to come inside but the boy would not let him. Lord Shiva asked his army to make him go away, but his army failed. Finally, Shiva just cut the boy’s head off. When Parvati had heard what had happened, she was angry. She pleaded with Shiva to save him. Lord Shiva sent his army to go find a head for Ganesha. His army came back with an elephant head.
● Parvati was very proud of her son Ganesha. She asked Shani (god of the planet Saturn) to look at her son. Shani looked at the face of Ganesha, but that look burnt Ganesha’s face as he had the evil eye and Ganesha became headless. Brahma (the creator god) advised Parvati to give Ganesha the head of the first thing she could find. Parvati found a head of an elephant and fixed on the body of Ganesha. Thus, Ganesha got an elephant’s head. Any image of Ganesha generally has the following characteristics or features:
● He has the head of an elephant.
● He is shown with a big body, showing that the entire universe is inside him.
● His colour is red, orange, or yellow.
● Generally, he has four arms, and sometimes three eyes.
● He carries a mala (garland) and certain other items like a lotus flower.
● He sits generally with a bowl of sweets (laddus or modaks) before him.
● A mouse or rat will be near Ganesha. He uses a mouse (rat) as his mount (vahans).
Durga, meaning "inaccessible/ invincible", is the most popular incarnation of Devi (the quintessential female deity) and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti (Shakti "Power" is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the forces that move through the entire universe). Durga is the original manifested form of Mother Parvati. She is considered the supreme goddess and primary deity in Shaktism, occupying a place similar to Lord Krishna in Vaishnavism. According to Skanda Purana, the goddess Parvati took the name "Mother" after she killed the demon Mahishasura. According to legend, Durga was created by the coming together of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the lesser gods to slay the buffalo demon Mahisasura, as they were powerless to overcome him individually. Embodying their collective energy (shakti), she is both derivative from the male divinities and the true source of their inner power. She is thus greater than any of them. Born fully grown and beautiful, Durga presents a fierce menacing form to her enemies. She is usually depicted riding a lion and with 8 or 10 arms, each holding the special weapon of one of the gods, who gave them to her for her battle against the buffalo demon. Durga is worshipped in many forms across the Hindu world, such as Bhagwati and Saraswati (Nepal), Tara and Kali (Tibet/Bhutan).
Krishna is a major deity in Hinduism. He is worshipped as the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu and by some as the supreme God in his own right. He is the god of compassion, tenderness, and love in Hinduism, and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities. Krishna's birthday is celebrated every year by Hindus in late August or early September. The anecdotes and narratives of Krishna's life are generally titled Krishna Leela. He is a central character in the Mahabharata, Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavad Gita, and is portrayed in various perspectives: god-child, prankster, model lover, divine hero, and universal supreme being. His iconography reflects these legends, and shows him in different stages of his life, such as an infant eating butter, a young boy playing a flute, a young man with Radha or surrounded by women devotees, or a friendly charioteer giving counsel to Arjuna. The synonyms of Krishna have been traced to 1st millennium BC literature. In some sub-traditions, Krishna is worshipped as Svayam Bhagavan, and this is sometimes referred to as Krishnaism. He is a pan-Hindu god, but is particularly revered in some locations. Based on his name (which means dark blue), Krishna is often depicted as black- or blue-skinned. Krishna is also known by various other names that reflect his many associations and attributes. Among the most common are Mohan "enchanter"; Govinda "chief herdsman", and Gopala "Protector of the Soul". All of his 8 wives and his lover Radha are considered in Hindu tradition to be the avatars of the goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu.
Shrines and sacred trees within the complex

We were hungry now, so we returned to the hotel for a lovely verandah breakfast (and much needed coffee). After breakfast we drove up the hills to park at the car park for the Peace Pagoda. It was quite a climb (about 20+ minutes) up the steps to access the pagoda grounds (1100m), but worth it for the view alone. Pokhara Shanti (Peace) Stupa is a Buddhist pagoda stupa built on Anadu Hill, by Nipponzan-My$h$ji monk Morioka Sonin under Nichidatsu Fujii, founder of Nipponzan-My$h$ji. Shanti is Sanskrit for peace. The panoramic view was of the Annapurna range, Pokhara, and Fewa Lake. The pagoda is on two levels, so after taking off our shoes, we did the usual 3x round (clockwise of course) each level. The plus side is great 360o views of the countryside and of the beautiful Buddhist wall decorations. Shanti Stupa is the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal and 71st pagoda built by Nipponzan-My$h$ji. The pagoda is 115 ft tall and 344 ft diameter. The white pagoda has two tiers for visitors to circumambulate. The second tier displays four statues of Buddha given by different countries: ‘Dharmacakra Mudra’ from Japan, ‘Bodh Gaya’ from Sri Lanka, ‘Kushinagar’ from Thailand and 'Lumbini' from Nepal. Each statue represents important events related to Buddha and were named according to where they took place. Dharmachakra is placed below the gajur (pinnacle) which signifies the wheel of life, dharma and the teachings of Buddha. The top of the golden gajur holds the crystal stone from Sri Lanka which symbolises intellect and grace. Dhamma hall, with Buddha statue, is located near the peace pagoda for Buddhist rituals. After enjoying the quiet gardens (and a quick meditation in the nearby seating area) we went back down, past the cafes, to the car.

Some Buddhism concepts
In Buddhism, Bodhisattva is Sanskrit for anyone who generates bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. Bodhisattvas are a popular subject in Buddhist art. In early Buddhism, the term bodhisattva referred specifically to Gautama Buddha (a contemporary of Mahavira who founded Jainism) in his former life. The Jataka tales, which are stories of the Buddha's past lives, depict various attempts of the bodhisattva to embrace qualities like self-sacrifice and morality. The bodhisattva is also called a pusa; one who achieves Buddhahood but chooses to remain attached to the world. In Sanskrit this is called a Avalokitesvara. Bodhisatta is used in the Pāli Canon to refer to Gautama Buddha in his previous lives and as a young man in his current life during which he was working towards his own enlightenment. During his discourses, he used the phrase "When I was an unenlightened bodhisatta..." ie a being who is "bound towards enlightenment". In the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta is someone who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement, and delusion. In later Theravada literature, the term
"bodhisatta" is used in the sense of someone on the path to liberation. Later tradition recognises two additional types of bodhisattas: the paccekabodhisatta who will attain buddhahood, and the savakabodhisatta, who will attain enlightenment as a disciple of a Buddha. In Mahāyāna Buddhism the Bodhisattva path is described as an arduous, difficult monastic path suited only for the few which is nevertheless the most glorious path one can take.
Dharmacakra Mudra
Three kinds of Bodhisattvas are mentioned in the early Mahayana texts: forest, city, and monastery Bodhisattvas, with aesthetic forest dwelling being promoted a superior, even necessary path. Mahāyāna Buddhism encourages everyone to become bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vows to work for the complete enlightenment of all sentient beings by practicing the six perfections. A bodhisattva is one who has a determination to free sentient beings from samsara (cycle of death, rebirth and suffering). This type of mind is known as the mind of awakening (bodhicitta). The place of a bodhisattva's earthly deeds, such as the achievement of enlightenment or the acts of Dharma, is known as a bodhimaṇḍa, and may be a site of pilgrimage. Many temples and monasteries are famous as bodhimaṇḍas. Perhaps the most famous bodhimaṇḍa of all is the Bodhi Tree under which Śākyamuṇi achieved buddhahood.
Avalokiteśvara or Padmapani is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is variably depicted, described and portrayed in different cultures as either male or female. In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezig, and in Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has evolved into the somewhat different female figure Guanyin. In Japan this figure is known as Kanzeon or Kannon. In its original form Avalokitesvara was probably a form of Vishu, or possibly Shiva, subsumed into Buddhism. One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until he had freed all sentient beings from saṃsāra. Despite strenuous effort, he realises that many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into 11 pieces. Amitābha, seeing his plight, gives him 11 heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokiteśvara tries to reach out to all those who needed aid, but
found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitābha comes to his aid and invests him with a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes. Avalokiteśvara is an important deity in Tibetan Buddhism. He is regarded in the Vajrayana teachings as a Buddha.
Lumbini; Bodh Gaya’
In Tibetan Buddhism, Tãrã came into existence from a single tear shed by Avalokiteśvara. When the tear fell to the ground it created a lake, and a lotus opening in the lake revealed Tara. In another version of this story, Tara emerges from the heart of Avalokiteśvara. In either version, it is Avalokiteśvara’s outpouring of compassion which manifests Tãrã as a being.

A short drive on took us to Davi’s Falls. It was surprising how quiet they were until we had got out and walked through the gardens. Davi's Falls (पाताले छाँगो), Nepali name Patale Chango (underworld waterfall) is a waterfall forming an underground tunnel after reaching the bottom. This tunnel is approximately 150 m long and runs 30 m below ground level. In 1961 a Swiss couple called Davi went swimming in the pool created in front of the gorge, but the woman drowned in a pit due to the overflow. Her body was recovered 3 days later in river Phusre and her father requested it to be named "Davi's falls" after her. After exiting the tunnel, the water passes through a cave called Gupteshwor Mahadev (Cave beneath Ground). Phewa Lake dam is the water source. Visitors can try their luck on the luck pond constructed there by throwing and placing the coin on the statue of God.

We drove back to the edge of Pokhara, and turned right into the Tibetan Refugee camp of Tashi Ling, which is NOT an accurate description at all. This was a proper village, with lovely houses, temple, school, etc. Following the Chinese takeover of Tibet there was an influx of over 300,000 exiles/refugees into Nepal on their way to Dharamala in India. It's estimated that 60,000 settled in Nepal. Since then 2,500 refugees cross the border every year either to make their way to India or settle in Nepal. Up until 1989 Tibetan exiles were allowed ID cards and economic assistance. Since then, due to a Chinese/ Nepali trade agreement Nepal has agreed not to recognise Tibetan Refugees. They are now not allowed to own land, drive a car, work or claim state benefit. Any refugee detained by the Nepali authorities should contact the UNHCR who will oversee their placement in a refugee settlement prior to being sent to India (this is the theory anyway, but apparently in Pokhara this is not really honoured and many still
settle there). On asking it transpired that most Tibetans there wanted to ensure their culture remained and they tended to keep within the community for worship, marriage etc. We went into the attached Tibetan museum. An absolute eye opener for us was the vast size of Tibet, shown on a huge map with the routes of refugees (and the distance they travelled) shown. They rest of the museum was mostly photos from pre-Chinese invasion Tibet, including many of the 13th Dalai Lama and the younger 14th (current) Dalai Lama.
Although not officially on our itinerary we asked if we could go towards Fewa lake and maybe be dropped off for a walk. “No problem”, (as always) said our guide; “lets go boating (if you’d like”). Of course we’d like! So we found a spot that rented boats and went for a canoe trip across the lake. This was very tranquil as we started in a lesser known spot, with only the sound of the pole in the water. A water snake shot across our bows; had no idea they moved so fast through the water! The checkered keelback (Xenochrophis piscator), also known commonly as the Asiatic water snake, is a common species of non venomous snake in the subfamily Natricinae of the family Colubridae and is endemic to Asia. It feeds predominantly on frogs and toads. It has a second set of rear facing fangs designed to puncture a toad or frog when it puffs itself up as a defence mechanism.
A lovely cruise with trees on all sides, inlets filled only with wildlife, a troupe of Hanuman (or Northern Grey) Langur monkeys playing ‘jump from tree to water’, fish occasionally jumping out of the crystal water and bird sounds everywhere. The Silver Carp, sometimes called Flying Carp were especially pretty, because they leapt up to 3m in the air in silvery flashes from the water when startled. Although the lake water looks quite green, when we filled a cup with it, it was in fact very clear and fresh looking. It was warm and inviting.
After 20 minutes or so we saw Tal Barahi/ Lake Temple in front of us. We circumnavigated the entire island (clockwise, obviously) before pulling into the landing strip and disembarking. This tiny island held, among smaller shrines, a 2-storey pagoda Hindu temple to the Goddess Durga (Barahi). The story goes that the temple was above the lake before King Kulmandhan Shah (first Shah king of Kaski), but he had a dream from the Goddess Durga to construct the temple in the middle island of Lake Phewa. Durga is one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti, and the manifested form of Parvati who acquired the name Durga after killing the demon Durgamaasura. There’s a legend that goddess Barahi-Bhagwati visited the area dressed as a beggar but was rebuffed by all but one of the locals. In thanks she warned this woman of an impending flood so the woman took her family away. Sure enough a flood came down from the mountains and destroyed the village. The woman and her family returned to build the island Barahi temple.
After being given a cone of food to feed the fish (and boy were there some HUGE fish) and a general stroll we took our life jackets back, boarded the boat and landed back at Pokhara landing dock. Fewa Lake, as you’d expect, is filled with fish. In addition to the pretty leading Silver Carp, we saw Bighead Carp, Grass Carp, Common Carp (ironically not common but fairly rare), Catla/Bhakura (Indian Carp), Magur (catfish), Rewa and Bhitta. Some of the carp in particular were very large; Bighead, Bhakhura and Grass Carp can all grow to 6 foot or so. The Clauris or Magur are an interesting group of catfish called the air-breathing catfish and are noted for the long time they can spend out of water, as well as an ability to traverse short distances by “walking” on their dorsal fins across mud. They can grow very large and as they are predatory are sometimes considered pests. The much smaller rewa and bhitta (10cm) stayed in large shoals away from the carp. Then it was a brief, but pleasant, walk along the lake edge to the restaurant, Bamboo, for lunch. We sat at an outside table in the shade and enjoyed a fish lunch before walking back to the hotel for a rest.

Phewa/ Fewa Lake of Tal is freshwater lake formerly called Baidam Tal. The lake is stream-fed but a dam regulates the water, so the lake is classified as a semi-natural freshwater lake. It is the second largest lake in Nepal after Rara lake. It is the only lake in Nepal to have a temple, Tal Barahi Temple at the central part of lake. Phewa lake is at an altitude of 742m and covers an area of 4.43km2 with an average depth of 8.6m and max depth of 24m. The Annapurna range on the north is only 28 km away from the lake. The lake is known for the reflection of Mt Machhapuchhre and other peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.
After a nice rest we went for an afternoon/ early evening stroll alone. We ended on the dock, from where we had a spectacular view of sunset mountains, with Machhapuchhre making a great appearance, surrounded by the Annapurnas. In the distance we could even see mighty Manaslu. As it got darker we fancied a cocktail, so we headed to Monsoon Bar (having purchased some food for our return to Kathmandu tomorrow). A nice tequila cocktail(s) and we decided to stroll about for a nice anniversary restaurant. After being quite picky (!) we found the amazing Harbour Restaurant, a great choice. https://glacierboutique.com/the-harbor-restaurant/. We sat outside and had a brilliant meal of olives with ciabatta, Himalayan butter-fish, and frangipani dessert with some recommended Nepali white wine (apparently exclusive to the restaurant), Dadaghare.
Nepali wine. Nepal has been home to tiny plantings of wine-bearing vines since the late 20th Century. The high-altitude Himalayan climate is not particularly suited to vines, so local wines are made from a variety of different fruits and herbs. The Himalayas dominate the landscape in Nepal, and
the production of fruit wine usually takes place on the southern edge of this mighty mountain range. Even the flatter land south of the Himalayas is still 800-1000m. The small Himalayan town of Jomsom claims to have the highest grape-growing vineyards in the world, 2750m. While there are some small plots of land dedicated to grape vines, the majority of Nepalese wine is made from a combination of fruits and herbs. The most common fruits found in Nepalese wines are small yellow raspberries (aiselu), and Himalayan barberries (chutro). Nettles, oranges and tea also feature in Nepalese winemaking. Nepalese wines tend to fall at the sweeter end of the spectrum taste-wise, and the best examples have a spiced, almost port- like quality to them. Production is on a miniscule scale and most Nepalese wines are consumed within the country's borders. Dadaghare wine, manufactured in Pokhara, is considered the finest Nepali wine. The wine is available in four different flavours- Aangan, Rs 360; Pidi, Rs.360; Majheri Rs.495 and Aati, Rs.500, manufactured using various fruits, herbal fruits and honey and is chemical free.

A note on Pokahra
Pokhara has spectacular scenery, adventure, and food choices galore. Lakeside Pokhara is the perfect place to recharge along the shore of a tranquil lake. Seti Gandaki (White River) is the main river flowing through the city and its tributaries have created gorges and canyons around Pokhara that give long sections of terrace features interrupted by gorges 100s of metres deep. Seti gorge itself runs through Pokhara north to south, and west to east. Pokhara, the city of lakes, is the second largest city of Nepal. Three 8,000m peaks (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu) can be seen from city. Machhapuchchhre (Fishtail) 6,993 m is closest. Pokhara lies on the major old trading route from China to India. In the 17th century it was part of the Kingdom of Kaski, one of Chaubisi Rajya (24 Kingdoms of Nepal) ruled by a branch of the Shah Dynasty, and many of the hills around still have medieval ruins. Pokhara was seen as a commercial centre by the King of Kaski in the mid 18th century when Newars of Bhaktapur migrated to Pokhara and settled near business locations by Bindhyabasini temple, Nalakomukh and Bhairab Tole. Pokhara at the time inhabited by Khas (Brahmin, Chhetri, Thakuri, Dalits). In 1786 Prithvi Narayan Shah added Pokhara to his kingdom. Establishment of British recruitment camp brought Magar and Gurung communities to Pokhara. At present the Khas, Gurung (Tamu) and Magar form the dominant communities of Pokhara, with a sizeable Newari population. A small Muslim community lives on the eastern fringes of Pokhara in a place called Miya Patan. Batulechaur in far north of Pokhara is home to Gandharvas/ Gaaineys (tribe of musicians). Nearby hill villages see a mix of Khas and Gurung. The Newars are non-existent outside Pokhara city itself.

Posted by PetersF 07:33 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal pokhara fewa sarangot phewa Comments (0)

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