More Newari history and missing panoramas

Bhaktapur Travel Blog

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Time for a bit of an adventure with the plan of using the local buses for some sightseeing around the Kathmandu Valley, taking in Bhaktapur and Nagarkot.

With the taxi driver to the bus station offering to do the tour for $30 before reducing his price to $10, I was determined to do it by bus.  The 1st leg to Bhaktapur cost 50 rupees (40p).  The local buses much better than anticipated as a little 20 seater bombed along much better roads with the driver also playing DJ.  As ever, US rock ballads always popular with a big presence of Bon Jovi, Guns'n'roses and Red Hot Chillis.

 

Journey provided contrasting vistas with big investment improving the highway system with western quality tarmac roads, whilst passing the usual 3rd world views of locals scrummaging through the waste dumps looking for anything of value, discarding useless items in to the river below (I'm always perplexed why tips are always situated next to rivers that then get blocked with pollution). Locals nice enough to give me a nudge when we got to Bhaktapur and time for more sightseeing.

Successfully applied my new tactics of a high coffee shop, but really no need in Bhaktapur.  Famed for being untouched by tourism, regardless of its claim to fame for its own Durbar Square being used as the set for the Little Buddha, really no hastle at all other than kids wanting to practise their English and test their knowledge of capital cities.

  Again a former capital of the Kathmandu valley, many of the monuments over 400 years old and built by past kings when Bhaktapur was the most important city in the valley.  Bhakptapur split across 4 main squares, but sadly many of the mounments here were destroyed in a big earthquake in 1934, so many of the buildings only reconstructions.  European money has ensured they are good replicas from photos taken previous.  Fewer monuments than either other Durbar Square (mainly because some monuments are still awaiting being re-built), a short but pleasant walk around Durbar square.  Containing the historic Golden Gate, I was much more impressed by the 12th century active Buddhist monastery found through the gate.  Able to look in to the monastery, but non Buddhists not allowed to go inside.
  Still able to see the historic statues and wood carvings within the courtyard.

Taumadhi Toll square is about 100 metres away from Durbar.  Smaller again, but dominated by the 5 tiered and tallest pagoda temple in Nepal.  Equally impressive are the 10 statues guarding the steps.  In the face of such history, local kids happy to play table tennis in the lower levels of 400 year old temples. 

Continuing on to Potter Square, walked down through alleyways with locals getting on with normal life (either manning a shop front, or washing - either clothes or themselves).  Get a feeling of being in 19th century England.  Everything very relaxed and apparently not used to hard selling.  I'd not seen more than 10 tourists all day.  A quick visit to Dattatraya square with a 14th century temple and intricate examples of wood carvings.

  Finished by seeing a couple of Buddhist statues sculpted in the 15th century.  When the king saw the statues, he was so impressed, he cut off both hands of the sculptor so he couldn't re-create the work elsewhere.  So nice !! 

Another good little town with so much history.

Got another local bus on to Changu Narayan temple.  A hilltop fort, just 30 minutes from Bhaktapur, dates back ot the 5th century.  Still looking in good condition and with an array of stone statues that surpass anything found in Nepal museums (including a 7th century statue featured on the Nepal 10 rupee note) , passed 30 minutes around the temple complex.  However getting a little cultured out.  Time for some mountains.

A bus back to Bhaktapur, before a new one up to Nagarkot.

  Nagarkot situated on the rim of the Kathmandu valley, it provides the best views of the Langtang Himalaya range within a days trip from Kathmandu.  A slow 90 minute climb up the hillside in another relatively comfy bus.   The 4 buses taking over 3 hours and cost a total of 105 rupees (90p).  Sadly, by the time I arrived, and at 1950 metres we were in the clouds.  No view to be had yet.  Found a hostal and a restaurant that actually had Stoke v Wigan on (before the 2nd half got replaced by the Nepal equivalent of X Factor :-( ).

Up in time for the sunrise but looking out of the window, cloud worse than ever - a pea soup as they would say in old London town. Got dressed anyway to have a wander to find I was locked in the hostal so kind of thankful not an amazing sunrise.  Went back to bed.  A lazy breakfast didn't result in any improvement in the weather and not able to see further than 20 metres.  You can't win 'em all.  Went to get the bus back to Bhaktapur and luck changing as a bus ready to go.  Or maybe luck not changing as bus rammed and standing room only.  Bus clearly made for Nepalese as roof only 5 foot high and spent the next 45 minutes with my neck and ear pressed against the roof.  Definitely a new winner for the most uncomfortable bus journey :-(.  An easy bus connection to Kathmandu and I was back at my hostal for lunch time. 

Bumped in to Dave who had decided to bring forward his return to England and leaving in 2 days time.  Set up meal together with Nina and then a North African shisha bar with cover band and Liverpool v Arsenal match on.  Nina liking the shisha, Dave and I watched the footy.  One more day before we split in different directions.

  

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Bhaktapur
photo by: Kathmandu1