Bhaktapur, page 1 of 3
Bhaktapur is one of the three major cities in the Kathmandu valley. We want to visit all three of them and because we already reserved (from Holland) a hotel in Kathmandu for the end of our journey we start in Bhaktapur. We arrive in Bhaktapur in the end of the afternoon. We find a not so big room in the hotel of our first choice; we have a bathroom where it is again possible to combine the toilet and the shower... But the hotel is in the center of Bhaktapur and has a nice roof terrace, that's why it is our first choice. The terrace exists in fact of three levels. While Jacques is drinking his beer on the first level I almost run to the highest level, from where I have a beautiful view on Taumadhi Tole, the square next to Durbar Tole in the center of Bhaktapur. The square is completely filled with temples, almost incredible when you see it for the first time. Down below a lot of tourists mix with local students, who want to sell some paintings or get a free donation. It is interesting to speak a bit with them and it is possible to get rid of them again also, although not too easy!
The light is perfect in the late afternoon and I take a lot of pictures, both overviews from the roof terrace and details from close by of the temples. Especially the high Nyatapola temple with its big statues and the Bhairabnath temple with the clocks on top are very beautiful in this golden light. In Bhaktapur no cars are allowed and also, how relaxing, I saw not one bike-riksja! And no riksjas means no riksja drivers who ask you all the time if you would like a ride! Bhaktapur is a very quiet, timeless city. It has exquisite temples, a lot of friendly people, no noise (compared to Kathmandu, everything is relative!) and a kind of mediaeval atmosphere. Towards the evening almost all tourists return to Kathmandu and Bhaktapur suddenly falls asleep. In fact at ten in the evening the streets are deserted, so dont expect too much of a nightlife!
We walk towards Tachupal Tole to eat something. It is more easy to find this square than I judged from the map (unparalleled, it is always the other way around!), a nice walk through a small main street with a lot of turns, again and again opening towards squares, water reservoirs (Pokhari) in the middle, a lot of temples around. We eat on a roof terrace, from where we can watch the early evening life on the square. A lot of children are playing in front of a big temple in the center of the square. Boys are playing hide and seek in between big pillars and huge statues of elephants and kings; girls are skipping with a rope on the flat marble stones around the temple. The light is fading, the children are leaving and everybody is returning home from his work. Now and then the silence is brutally disturbed by a kind of tractor with a very long steer and a big driving belt connecting the motor with the front wheel. It reminds me a bit of a Mad Max movie, SF in a mediaeval-after-the-bomb-atmosphere if you understand what I mean?
The next morning we wake before 7 o'clock. It is clouded; later on we find out that it is foggy in the Kathmandu Valley every morning till about half past 8, when the sun gathers enough strength to lift the clouds. The fog is a result of both natural causes - the cold of the mountains and the relative warmth in the Kathmandu valley - and of pollution. From our window I can see the vegetable market at its height, mostly women, a lot of colors, vegetables are laying on cloths on the ground, weigh out is done with scales and silver weights, men are carrying heavy sacks full of grain hanging on both sides of a yoke on their shoulders. No tourists disturb the scene, something that Im going to change in a moment, because I really must take some pictures!
After breakfast we take a look on Durbar Tole, next to our square. Jacques was very sorry we didnt had enough time to visit the erotic temples of Khajuraho in India and when we couldnt reach a temple in Varanasi with erotic carvings because of the high level of the Ganges he felt really disappointed.
So I looked for erotic temples in Nepal in our LP, and luckily I found a lot of temples with erotic carvings and I made a point of taking Jacques to (almost) each of them . Hindu temples in Nepal sometimes have erotic carvings on the roof stuts. Why they added this carvings is not sure, you can read all kind of theories, but maybe they just liked it? That is too simple of course. Anyway, Jacques for sure likes them, but is also a bit shocked when I start making pictures armed with a tripod and a tele-lens. The carvings are quite explicit; little room for interpretations is left. You can check for yourself on this pages (Pashupatinath temple) and on the Kathmandu pages!
The famous Golden Gate is also on Durbar Tole, entrance to the Palace and indeed very beautiful, with exquisite carved golden statues, as you can see on these pictures.