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Published: April 25th 2019
Pick-up today for our tour of the Kathmandu Valley was at 10:00 so we had plenty of time to enjoy our buffet breakfast as we all managed to be ready by 08:00. Mitch, Krissy and Nick even had time to do a bit of shopping before the pick-up time. Our guide today was Prem and our first stop was to Swayambhu Stupa, better known as Monkey Temple because the huge monkey population that inhabits this temple complex. Thankfully, the monkeys here are not at all aggressive like some you encounter in other Asian temples. Prem says they are well fed. Whulst there we had a go at tossing a coin into lucky fountain and we visited an art studio specializing in Mandala art and special paintings for meditation. Being our first temple probably made this visit even more interesting and we all thoroughly enjoyed our visit watching the monkeys and watching the worshippers.
Next was the Buddhanath Stupa which the biggest buddhist monastery in Asia and is encircled by shops, which reminded us of the classic European squares. Before inspecting the stupa Prem took us to a very nice restaurant where we sat on a balcony table overlooking the stupa.
The food was great as well but I has surprised to see beef steak on the menu so I ordered it. Mitch figured out it was actually buffalo steak because buffaloes are not sacred like the cows. After lunch we walked clockwise around and on the stupa before heading to one of the biggest temple complexes in Kathmandu.
The Hindu temple, Pashupatinath Temple, is one of the most important shrines of Shiva on the subcontinent and is a pilgrimage site for Hindis. This is also home to many yogis and Vicki had her photo taken with a yogi with very long dreadlocks which he wrapped around her. It is quite a large complex but the highlight of this visit was watching an actual cremation ceremony. We had already seen burning bodies on arrival, which are placed on round pyres next to the river but as we were leaving we noticed a procession carrying a body so we stayed longer to watch the whole ceremony.
We finished the day at Durbar Square and as foreigners had to pay an entrance fee of 1000 rupees. We first visited Freak Street where the hippies use to hang out in
the sixties, hence the name. Prem then took us around looking at various structures including the home of Kumari Devi, the Living Goddess who is a Hindi Goddess but is chosen from a Buddhist family and she only has the title until menstruation when another girl is then chosen to take over. There was a large crowd around the house but Prem said you cannot go in to see her but as we walked away there was suddenly a lot of commotion behind us and a procession came along with Kumari Devi sitting on a throne carried by a few men like the gestatorial chair used for the Pope, so that pretty special as she makes very few public appearances. Maybe because today was Nepal’s New Years Eve. We then went to the museum but it was already closed but then suddenly soldiers cam out and before we knew it, the Kumari Devi procession came around again and I ended up in it’s path until a soldier gently pushed me to the side. Disappointing to have missed the museum but on the other hand if we had gone in earlier we probably wouldn’t have seen Kumari Devi.
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