Kathmandu or Kathmandon't

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October 18th 2008
Published: October 18th 2008
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Kathmandu. The name itself can evoke tales of adventure and mystery. I will agree that there was mystery there. But not a whole lot of adventure. I managed to get ripped off by yet another cab-driver and got hassled again at tourist site by a local offering to be my guide.
But overall, Kathmandu is interesting. I just can't take more than a couple days.
The physical location of the city places it in a valley below the mighty mountains. The problem is that you can barely see the mountains now because of the haze and pollution. The city is jammed with cars and trucks and the greatest number of motor-bikes per capita.
Driving here is not for the faint-of-heart or weak-of-stomach. It's better to use your horn that your brakes. The same rules apply in Cairo too.

The actual temples in the city are very beautiful. They are all dedicated to one Hindu god or goddess or the other and I have completely lost track of which god was in charge of which element or weather phenomenon or human quality, etc.

Durbar Square is the main square of Kathmandu and you can easily spend most of a day just wandering around seeing temples and taking photos and just soaking up the scene. One of the more interesting sites there was the home of the new goddess, the Kumari Devi. She is a young girl who will live in this building until she reaches puberty at which point she goes back to being an ordinary person and they choose another goddess. Some of the pre-requisites for her staus is that she have a voice as clear as a duck and eyelashes like a cow.

Pashupatinath is another temple complex where the main feature is the cremation ghats alongside the river. People are cremated here after death and I was able to see several of these take place. There was a whole ritual to it; the placing of the wood, cleansing of the people, carrying the body on to the ghat and then the lighting of the pyre by one of the deceased's sons. The robes that were covering the corpse were thrown into the river where they were recovered by members of the lower castes. The river was fairly shallow and a few young boys were movng back and forth gathering these robes and pieces of cloth. They would then place them on the bank to dry and then the lower castes(the untouchables) would use the material for their own purposes.


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