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Published: October 25th 2012
14th Patan and Swayambhunath
After a bad night’s sleep we still got up early and once again caught a taxi, this time to the city of Patan which is now almost a suburb of Kathmandu. Patan is known as the City of Beauty and I’m sure it once was, now the jumbled mass of houses and shops which sprawl around the historic areas kind of spoil the image slightly.
Unlike Bhaktapur traffic still speeds around all the small streets which makes looking at the various temples and shrines a less comfortable experience – you constantly have one eye over your shoulder!
However the Durbar Square was still stunning with it’s elegant pagoda temples and intricately carved stone temples. We ran the same gamut of people offering to be guides but once again just wanted to see things by ourselves in our own time and to be honest did not want to hear all about the various gods again as we have heard it all many, many times before.
So we wandered around and climbed up and down various temples, watched people performing rituals and older people just sitting watching all the strange tourists! We followed the Lonely
Planet walking tour and found ourselves encountering more sights and spectacles at every turn.
There is a big mix of Hindu and Buddhism and there were as many stupas and statues of Buddha as there were Hindu gods and shrines. We did an interesting wiggly walk through as series of inter connected tiny courtyards, ducking down and passing through tiny doorways and coming out into peoples back courtyards, all of which had a shrine in the centre. On the way we heard a lot of barking and yelping and came across the dog version of the kama sutra! Two dogs facing in opposite directions but stuck together!! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry for them, so I laughed!!
We discovered a small roof top restaurant overlooking the Durbar Square where we ate lunch watching the commings and goings. Then visited the Patan Museum which was beautifully presented and had a mass of information on Hinduism and Buddhism and lots of wonderful statues. It also had a gallery of old photos and sketches of Patan from the 19th and 20th centuries which were fascinating, including one of how the first motor car was brought to Nepal, it
was literally carried in!!
Afterwards we carried on to Swayambhunath, a Buddhist temple which is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is on top of a hill overlooking the sprawling mass of Kathmandu which seems to stretch on forever!
The temple is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are monkeys everywhere!! There was a giant bell and Buddah statue at the gate we went in by and as we walked up to the Stupa (dodging monkeys) the steps were lined with people asking for alms, many of them with missing limbs or horrific injuries and on the way down we gave them each some rupees.
The stupa is immense with a white washed dome and a golden spire, which has huge Buddha faces on each side. Right around the base are prayer wheels which devotees spin as they walk clock wise around the stupa.
There were lots of small shops and stalls selling everything Buddhist related and how they keep going when virtually no one was buying anything I just don’t know. The views from the top were amazing you could really see the extent of the city of Kathmandu.
good days sight seeing, on reflection it would have been better to have seen Patan before Bhaktapur as it was a lovely place but in my opinion wasn’t a patch on Bhaktapur.
Once more the traffic was mad and heavy and we were constantly coughing and choking on all the dust that was kicked up and coming in the windows. We got dropped off back in Thamel Chowk and did a spot of hard haggling for a few souvenirs, got offered Hashish or to go for a smoke numerous times and finally got back to the hotel.
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