Bhaktapur, The Third City
The first thing you eagle eyed readers will notice is a jump in dates! This is because I wanted to continue the sequence of visiting the three cities without interruption when in reality there was a 3-4 day gap for a special birthday, a home visit and other important things.
By now we were really starting to feel like tourists! Taxi rides, city visits, looking at temples, palaces, museums ….. A different experience from meeting and visiting family, sharing food, family stories and living almost the Nepali way. These were the thoughts buzzing around as we got out of the taxi at the entrance to Bhaktapur Durbar Square. To get here we had driven past brickworks and kilns belching smoke into the atmosphere next to acres and acres of agricultural land of rice and so many vegetable fields. This area is the food basket of Kathmandu and the home to the Newari Jyapu (farmers) and also to Newar Craftsmen famed especially for their wood carving skills.
We stood alongside the Palace of 55 Windows and marvelled at the intricate wood carved frames before entering the Wood Carving Museum with examples of the craftsmen’s work and tools. Probably the windows that most catch the eye are the “peacock windows” for which Bhaktapur is rightly famous.
Next stop was the National Art Gallery which was just full of amazing Buddhist paintings known as Thangka in Tibetan or Paubha in Nepali. These are depictions of Buddhist symbolism such as Buddhas, Mandala or the Wheel of Life. It is a very skilled artist and religious minded person who can do this sort of thing and some are worth a small fortune.
We didn’t stay long in here and were soon out into the sunshine again staring up at the amazing Nyatapola, the five levelled pagoda in the centre of Durbar Square. On each of the level of steps leading up to the main structure there is a guardian in increasing strength; wrestlers, elephants, lions, griffins, goddess.
Opposite was another similar structure, The Nyatapola Café, and we climbed the rickety stairs to get a balcony seat overlooking the square and drank lassi and coke, a cooling relief in the monsoon heat before beginning our wandering again around the streets with their terracotta and brick houses. In a short time we had visited two small cottage industries, one making mustard oil, the other a small pottery where outside was row upon row of clay pots drying in the sun. It was here that one of the locals, overwhelmed with curiosity about us and our children, gave us a terracotta pot of yoghurt to eat …… lovely stuff, the best yoghurt we had ever eaten ….. Bhaktapur yoghurt!
The final memory to hold of this fantastic time in this beautiful city is of Sharon’s sandal strap coming off and finding a street cobbler to stitch it back together again for the princely sum of 50 paise which is half a rupee and equivalent to around 2p in English money!
We travelled back to central Kathmandu on the Chinese built trolleybus system, definitely a rare experience in Nepal and not one we expected to find, especially at 3 rupees each for me and Champa and the kids for free! The end of a brilliant day.
Does anyone remember the trolleybus system here? Do follow and get an alert for Part 7, Champa goes Home