In complete contrast to the previous day’s trekking, our third day focused on the major historical UNESCO sites in Kathmandu, with an excellent local guide and driver. This included:
Our first stop was the famous Durbar Square, located in the heart of ancient Kathmandu. Here there are many old temples and palaces, with their intricately carved interiors and built in pagoda style and used by both Hindus and Buddhists. They were built from the 12th to 18th centuries. Here is where the kings of Nepal were crowned until the 20th century and it was also the place of royal residence. There is no longer an existing royal family in Nepal and this was eventually disbanded in 2008, following the massacre in 2003, when ten members of the royal family were murdered. The last king is still alive but lives as a commoner. Durbar Square is a UNESCO approved World Heritage Site.
Next, we visited what is claimed to be the oldest Hindu temple in the world and was built 300 years BC and it was quite stunning again, with its beautiful wood carvings. We saw some erotic carvings on the exterior as in the 12th to 14th centuries it was fashionable. At that time there was a declining population, with too many monks and not enough ordinary people wanting children. It must have worked, as there is now a population of four million in Kathmandu!
Next, we visited the Boudhanath Stupa – it is one of the most important places of pilgrimage for Buddhist people. It towers above a small village and today has become a thriving town of monasteries, arts and crafts and small businesses. It also claims to be the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
We saw some beautiful architecture and really very early buildings, some dating back to the twelfth century.
Interestingly, Nepal was never colonized. However, Nepal has always had a very close relationship with the UK.
Tomorrow, we start our trip to the Nepalese Himalayas and an eight-day trek.
We are not sure when we will have internet access next, but please watch this space!