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Back to Kathmandu – but not to Thamel

Nepal day seventeen


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Waiting to board at Nepalgunj Airport

Another early start, with a 5.30 alarm and breakfast before six. Despite it being so early the lodge staff made sure we had a good meal, sitting outside by the rather smoky firepit in the half-light. As we were finishing the other guests started to emerge, talking about their plans for the day and hopes of seeing a tiger. We wished them luck and said our goodbyes.

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At Nepalgunj Airport

The manager BC saw us off in person, somewhat later than the agreed 6.20 departure time. Our driver was great but the road very foggy in places so it was an unsettling drive at times. We saw a peacock as we drove through the ‘animals crossing' zone, and some working elephants as we crossed a bridge, but no other wildlife.

As we neared Nepalgunj the fog was still quite thick and it was clear that our flight was unlikely to leave on time. Just as well perhaps, as we were rather later than the required hour before check-in time! In fact, when we did arrive it was to be told that the airport was closed because of the weather and no flights were checking in. We had to hang around in the small landside area for about 30 minutes, doing some people-watching to pass the time.

Then there was a flurry of activity, one flight opened and then soon after so did ours. The board gave a revised departure time of 9.35 instead of the scheduled 9.00, but we were sceptical. And we were right to be so, as the incoming flight didn’t land until 10.50 and we finally took off around 11.30. It was frustrating sitting in the departure lounge watching other airlines’ flights to Kathmandu leaving while we were going nowhere.

Eventually however we were off, and the flight itself passed smoothly and quickly. We were on the ground in Kathmandu by 12.05, to be met by a smiling Pritik, our guide from earlier in the trip.

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Landing in Kathmandu

But the day’s frustrations continued when firstly we had to wait ages for the car as the driver was stuck in traffic, and secondly the journey to our hotel in Patan took far longer than it should have. It appeared that our driver was unsure of the way and also unaware that roadworks in the area made some roads impassable. In the end we had to get out and walk, Pritik man-handling our large suitcase over the rough roads and Chris doing the same with the smaller one.

Once we finally arrived the Inn in Patan was lovely – an old heritage hotel on similar lines to the Old Inn we'd stayed in in Bandipur. Our room was large but with the hazards of low beams, and we were to find it a bit chilly in the evening.

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Our room at the Inn Patan

Exploring Patan

We only stayed to drop off our bags and anything unnecessary we were carrying, as Pritik was waiting downstairs. The plan was to explore the area around Patan's Durbar Square, a stone’s throw from the hotel. But first we craved a cold drink and something to eat, as it had been a long while since breakfast. His recommendation was the rooftop of the Café du Temple, with a ringside seat to watch all the action in the square below. We shared some momos, vegetable and buff, while he told us little bit about what we were going to see during the afternoon.

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Patan Durbar Square From the Temple Cafe

Then we walked through the square past a line of typical old ornate Hindu temples, each dedicated to a different god. One was still undergoing major restoration following the 2015 earthquake, the others were all fully restored. I enjoyed seeing and photographing the details without really taking in which was which! A bit of digging around on the internet later tracked down most of the temple names.

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Statue of King Yoganarendra Malla (on the right seen from the Café du Temple)

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Krishna Mandir Temple, and Garuda opposite it

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In front of Vishwanath Temple

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Harishankar Temple

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Bhimsen Temple detail, and Hanuman statue

The Royal Palace

Next we visited the Royal Palace with a series of lovely courtyards full of beautiful intricate carving. It was striking how tranquil it seemed the moment we entered, in complete contrast to the noise outside in the square.

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Exterior of the Royal Palace

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Mul Chowk

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Above are all details in Mul Chowk

Off one of the courtyards was a small gallery showcasing Newari architectural styles and off another a museum devoted to carvings of the Hindu gods.

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Keshav Narayan Chowk

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In the gallery (left), and museum (right)

In one of the courtyards, Sundari Chowk, Pritik showed us the place where one of the kings used to meditate, naked even on the coldest winter day (well below zero)!

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Sundari Chowk

We also saw the pool where the kings used to bathe.

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Bhandarkhal Water Tank

The Golden Temple, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar

After we’d finished at the palace Pritik led us down a road off the square to the Buddhist Golden Temple. Unlike the Hindu temples, visitors are allowed inside. Our attention was caught in the entrance area by a display of photos of the Kumari of various places, including Kathmandu’s - the same young girl we had seen briefly at her window on our first morning in Nepal but not been permitted to photograph ourselves.

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Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, and the phto of the Kumari

Inside we saw the prayer wheels, the main Buddha statue and many others. A couple were being photographed in front of the Buddha, clearly celebrating something (I thought maybe a wedding anniversary).

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In Hiranya Varna Mahavihar

We were permitted to visit the attached small monastery where a man was preparing butter lamps.

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Making butter lamps

When we emerged there were people pouring into the courtyard below us, men first then women. They were all in traditional dress, and there were drums and music playing. They circled the central temple and then started to gather in small groups for informal photos. They didn’t mind at all that we were also taking photos. Pritik explained that it was a typical celebration for a person reaching a significant age. In this case there was a man marking his 78th birthday.

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The celebrations

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Watching the activity

As we left one man thanked me for coming, as though we had been honoured guests! That was a great experience to end our sightseeing in Nepal. Pritik walked back to the hotel with us then left, promising to return to pick us up in the morning and ensure our driver knew how best to avoid the roadworks.

We spent some time sorting bags and filling in the online health form required when leaving Nepal. Then we went out for a look around the square after dark and of course some photography. We had dinner at a restaurant just off the square, Drishya, which had been recommended to us by a Belgian couple staying in the lodge in Bardia. It was a good choice, with a great view of the square below (we were on the 4th floor), good pizza and well-flavoured biriyani.

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View from the restaurant

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My biryani

After dinner we took just a few more photos and then headed back to the hotel for an early night ahead of tomorrow’s flight.

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Around the square

Posted by ToonSarah 12:09 Archived in Nepal Tagged night restaurant temple history hotel flight palace shrine nepal kathmandu Comments (7)

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