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Published: December 31st 2018
Today we were given a tour of 3 of the 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu. Our guide was so knowledgeable on both the history of the land and how it connected back to Nepalese culture. In order to not fully butcher all the information he provided, here are my favorite pieces that I took from each site:
• Bhaktapur Durbar Square: Nyatapola Temple is a representation to women's wisdom and is a 5 story Hindu temple built from 1702 to 1703. It has survived all earthquakes in Nepal since with minimal damage (even the 1934 earthquake which destroyed 1/3 of the temples in Bhaktapur Durbar Square). There are 5 levels to the temple each protected by a guardian ten times stronger than the guardian below it. This area is famous for its wood carvings in the buildings and this temple is no exception. Every piece of wood has intricate designs, gods and guardians cut into it.
• Boudhanath: is regarded as the world's largest stupa and is built on a stepped octagonal base and inset with alcoves representing Buddha and his teachings. During the large earthquake of 2015 the stupa was destroyed and with the donation of 2.3 million dollars they were able to repair it fully and plate the 13 steps to Nirvana in gold. Around the outside of the temple are spinning prayer wheels. Each wheel has a mantra carved into it. These wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and good merit and purify negatives. The spinning of the wheels clockwise and used as a visual for the mantras revolving around the nadis and the meridian chakras. It is best to keep the wheels turning smoothly in gentle rhythm. The goal is to keep in mind the motivation and spirit of compassion and the desire to reach full enlightenment for the benefit of all beings (bodhichitta). It helps with wisdom, compassion and bodhichitta for the practitioner and enhances siddhis (spiritual powers of clairvoyance and precognition)
• Pashupatinath: this temple lies on the banks of the Bagmati River and where cremations occur on the river banks for Hindus. This was the most uncomfortable place to visit for me. While there, 3 funeral processions went by, many cremations were in progress and several people were getting ashes blessed by the priests in preparation to send them down the river. During this entire time, people were on the viewing side of the river watching the funerals, taking videos and discussing the rituals going on.
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