A day in the life: Discovering Shiva.

Kathmandu Travel Blog

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Pashupatinath

After a day and a half of getting up close and personal with some Buddhist stupas and temples, we decided to head off and try to experience of bit more of the Subcontinental life. It couldn't have gone any better and it turned out to be a truly memorable day.

We kicked things off with a lazy morning of breakfasts and teas, and sat under an umbrella in a garden as some rain fell down around us. Around 1 pm, we set off for our destination of the day, the Hindu cremation ghats/ Shiva holy place of Pashupatinath.
Kids on a field trip.
We had quite the interesting group and the day provided us with a chance to learn even more about each other. There was Verena, a German who'd been traveling across Central Asia and arrived in Nepal from Kazakhstan; there was Alban, a Portuguese/Flemish teen who'd arrived a day after me and is going to spend a few months working in orphanages here and in India; and there was Charlie, a Brit who'd spent the last 15 months or so teaching English in China, and had arrived in Kathmandu that morning from Tibet. A great bunch, the lot of them.

We caught a taxi ride from Thamel to Pashupatinath and it began.
As we were arriving, the smoke from the open cremations circled above the temples as monkeys galloped about on the rooftops. This place is located on a sacred river, and on each side of the river are these concrete pyre types of things where the bodies of "normal people" are burned (the royals have their own spot). When we arrived there were three such cremations going on and it was a bit shocking/intriguing to see, especially as it seemed as there was a complete lack of ceremony. It almost seemed like it was just one last chore to do for a loved one, before moving on to the next chore of the day.

After dodging a cow, crossing the bridge over the river, and gazing at the cremations, I spotted some more monkeys and the camera started clicking. The temples and ghats and surrounding architecture were absolutely stunning, but I was more focused on getting shots of the hundreds of monkeys loping around in the beginning.
Around this time we met this amazing boy who spoke fluent English, as well as some Portuguese and German. After chatting for a few minutes, he began showing us all the different pieces of currency from other countries that he's collected. He had some rand from South Africa, francs from France, Brazilan Reals, some Nicaraguan bills, some Euros, some American coins... on and on. An amazing collection. After 10 minutes or so of talking with him, I looked up and around and was surpised to find our little group surrounded by 15 or so onlookers. I think everyone could see and appreciate how knowledgeable about the world this boy was at such a young age. Fantastic.

We began climbing a long series of steps and arrived at yet another courtyard and temple at the top. This was the Shiva temple, and one of the most important ones in the whole subcontinent.
Shiva changed colors every day.
After walking around and dodging all the cows (cows are sacred to Hindus and seemingly had free reign to do as they pleased here) we happened upon a school group on a field trip. As we watched, they circled up and some of the girls took turns dancing while the boys took up a game of cricket. Charlie joined in with them as I watched both groups at play. It was a lot of fun seeing the students having fun and taking part in things I've never seen before, especially the dancing. It was quite captivating to see. It turns out the students and teachers were from an English school, so we got to chat a bit to the kids and one of the male teachers told us a bit about the site and what was going on. A really fantastic bunch of people. At the end, we all took pictures and videos of each other and began wrapping up a really great time.
Durbar Square


And then: another harrowing taxi ride back to town, a trip down to Durbar Square for the sunset, me trying to lead Charlie back to our hotel and going completely in the wrong direction (it was dark...ehh),  a nice meal at a Tibetan/Mexican/Continental (a combination, huh?!?!) restaurant, and then the day's wrap up at a rooftop bar with a live band  where we sat down at a table with a really cool Indian engineer named Asheesh and sampled a really good Indian dish of peanuts, chilis, and spices. My favorite day in Nepal yet. :)
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Pashupatinath
Pashupatinath
Kids on a field trip.
Kids on a field trip.
Shiva changed colors every day.
Shiva changed colors every day.
Durbar Square
Durbar Square
Durbar Square
Durbar Square
Kathmandu
photo by: sharonburgher