Indira Chowk Market
This morning we woke up early to try and visit Durbar Square before the sun was too bright. Things start bustling pretty early and the market in Indra Chowk was in full swing as you can see in the picture of the vegetable vendors (with the cow attempting to steal a bite…). At the square, the old, local man was trying to feed the pigeons but this big bull kept wandering over and trying to eat the seed he was throwing so he started whacking it with his cane which eventually scared the pigeons off. The temple roof in the picture is very typical of many of the buildings in the square with ornately carved and painted roof struts and a multi-tiered roof.
The two pictures of the scary, black statue are of Kala Bhairab who is Shiva’s most fearsome manifestation with six arms bearing weapons and a garland of skulls around his head.
Bhairab is trampling a corpse in this sculpture, representing human ignorance. Supposedly, this image was sculpted in the sixth century and unearthed back in the 1700’s when it was brought to Kathmandu. In the past, it has been used for civil servants to take vows and criminals to profess their innocence as it was believed that telling a lie in front of Bhairab would bring immediate death! They still sacrifice goats to this statue regularly.
Old man and Pigeons in Durbar Square
After wandering around the square for a bit, we thought we would check out another walking tour of the neighborhoods south of the square which are supposed to give a less touristy glimpse into Nepali life. It was quite nice and nobody was trying to sell touristy trinkets, a nice change from Thamel and the square.
I had to snap the picture of the man with the crates - this is the typical form of carrying sometimes immensely large and heavy loads. Note to self: Open a chiropractic office in Kathmandu. The picture of the water pouring out of the hiti spout is very typical all over Nepalese cities. In most every square is a sunken, bricked in well, sometimes richly decorated and other times simply done. The locals come here to collect water for cooking and washing in the silver milk jug looking urn, sometimes to bathe. There is invariably something going on at the hiti with a lineup of people waiting for water and the spouts are often of crocodiles or other sometimes mythical creatures. The picture of the young girl in the window shows the typical and often beautiful wooden windows and shutters seen all over the city - certainly a lot more picturesque than vinyl!
Durbar Square Temple Roofs
After breakfast at the Cosmopolitan Café, we decided to visit the Hanuman Dhoka palace complex and museum right off of Durbar Square.
Cameras are only allowed in the courtyards, not inside the buildings, so don’t expect to see too many pictures here. The first one from just inside the gate is the Narsingha Statue which is Vishnu in his lion form, devouring a demon. The king had this carved in fear that he had offended Vishnu when he danced in a narsingha costume. More interestingly to me, my favorite Thai beer is called Singha and had lions on the bottle - hmmm. The next picture is of one of the guards in Gurkha uniform - notice the sharp and long bayonet on his rifle and the traditional hat. We did ask if we could shoot his photo first as being on the wrong side of a bayonet is never fun. Hanuman Dhoka itself had some interesting if somewhat bizarre displays of the various kings and their inaugurations, possessions and diplomatic events. The recent disastrous series of murders by the crown prince that killed the King and Queen as well as a large portion of the royal family was completely downplayed.
Bhairab Statue in Durbar Square
A hike up the nine story Basantapur Tower provides nice views of the city and the surrounding countryside as well as a refreshing cool breeze.
Bhairab Statue in Durbar Square
We decided to try something different for a change of cuisine and went for a Japanese dinner at Koto restaurant in a business district area outside of Thamel. The food was pretty good but we were a little to afraid to order sushi in a land locked country so we had yakitori and tempura which was a nice change. We have to start figuring out some kind of plan or itinerary for Nepal soon lest we end up hanging out doing little of anything in Kathmandu too long. When we got back to the hotel, the owner Bharat was there and we ended up talking with him for quite a while.
He seems very nice and is proud of what they have done with the renovation of the Kantipur Temple House and the Bhojan Griha restaurant. He has a travel company as well and gave us a car so perhaps we will look at his website and see what he has to offer. Tomorrow we are going to go to the ancient city of Patan.
Human Transportation in Kathmandu