Where We Be
|Looking down on Patan's magnificent Durbar Square from the rooftop of Si Taleju Restaurant
After a week of being cooped up in our hotel room
in Kathmandu because of the Maoist protest and
general strike (see previous entry), we were more
than ready to do a little sightseeing. We took a taxi
to Patan -- once a fiercely independent city-state in
the Kathmandu Valley but now a southern suburb
of Kathmandu located just twenty minutes away.
Patan’s Durbar ("Royal") Square is considered one
of the most beautiful squares in the world. Lonely
Planet says the Unesco World Heritage site is
“arguably the finest collection of temples and
palaces in all of Nepal.” It is chock-full of brick-and-
timber temples in the pagoda style, as shown left.
Now you may be thinking, these temples look a lot
like Chinese pagodas, and you're right -- but not
because the Nepalis copied the Chinese, but
rather because the Chinese copied the Nepalis! It
turns out it was a Nepali architect of the late 1200s
named Arniko, born in Patan, who introduced the
traditional Nepali pagoda style to China. He came
to China at the age of 12 at the invitation of Kublai
Khan. Over time he became a renowned architect,
His pagoda style became all the rage, and that's
why temples all over Asia look the way they do.
|Here we're looking from north to south at the other temples on Patan's Durbar Square
|Manga Hiti, a sunken cruciform-shaped water conduit
|Every square inch of wood in the courtyard is lovingly carved with individual images like this one
|The first statue you see as you enter the museum -- small but beautiful
|I love this alien-looking version of Buddha. The great thing about this museum is that the curators have picked out
200 pieces of exceptional Nepali art and highlighted each piece with beautiful lighting and signs in clear English.
|Shiva dances up a storm. Supposedly these dancing gods are supposed
to be fierce and angry but they look carefree and happy to our eyes.
|The museum is chock-full of amazing art, and if you read the plaques
you get quite the education in all things Hindu and Buddhist
|The popular elephant-god Ganesh is the god of good luck and prosperity
|The one stone temple, Krishna Mandir, is heavily influenced by northern Indian architecture. The other temples are in the traditional Nepali pagoda style.
|A pigeon stands above the folded hands of a kneeling statue of the winged Garuda
|The Royal Palace takes up the whole eastern side of Durbar Square and includes the Patan Museum
|Robin cozies up to an odd-looking lion. Lions are guardians of temples, often posted in pairs on all four sides.
|Fantastic wooden carvings on the roof struts of temples offer a creative free-for-all. This one seems ready to party!
|Hindus light butter lamps and place them on the balustrade along the second tier of Krishna Mandir Temple
|Bells are a common feature at temple sites all over Nepal -- and they aren't just for show but get rung a lot to announce each offering to a god
|This intricate wooden door carving features sun symbols and Buddha eyes
|Buffalo guts are strung above the temple door, a grisly tribute to the bloody god Bhairab
|And this is bloody Bhairab himself, who in this image looks less fearsome than he does like a creature
from "Where the Wild Things Are," or a Hindu version of Heat-Miser
|This is the entrance to the Patan Museum, without question the best museum in Nepal
|The Patan Museum is housed in what was once the Royal Palace. This is the elegant entrance courtyard.
|The courtyard of the museum has some of the most intricately carved and well-preserved windows in Nepal