Where We Be
|The Beatles are said to have hung out at this temple (Maju Deval) during their visit to Nepal. Many still
call it the Hippie Temple because so many hippies used to come here to smoke marijuana on its steps.
|Durbar Square -- Kathmandu, Nepal
There are three Durbar Squares in Nepal. "Durbar"
means "royal," and back in the day -- the late 1400s
to mid 1700s to be more exact -- three kingdoms in
Kathmandu Valley competed to build the most
impressive monuments to their power: Kathmandu,
Patan, and Bhaktapur. The result was a building
boom of temple and palace architecture and a
flourishing of the arts seldom seen before or
since. And with the three city-states being located
less than an hour away from one another by taxi,
it's a cinch to see all three in the same trip to Nepal.
During our tour of Kathmandu's Durbar Square, we
not only got to see great temple architecture but
also a living goddess! She was all of four years old.
Called the “kumari devi,” she is a young Nepali girl
chosen according to a list of 32 strict physical
requirements and other attributes. For example,
she must be from a particular caste of gold- and
silversmiths, her voice must sound a certain way,
her horoscope must be just so, and she must not
flinch at a display of gruesome buffalo heads but
rather remain calm and collected throughout the
ordeal (since a god, of course, wouldn't flinch at
such a display). As a final test, she must choose
items of clothing worn by her predecessor. Once
chosen, she is the kumari until her first period,
when she is dethroned and another girl is chosen.
|Our guide explained that people who do bad things in life sometimes come back as pigeons. Apparently there are a lot of bad people out there!
|The sheer number and density of temples in this royal square make it memorable
|You can collect good karma and help make amends for your poor pigeon ancestors by feeding them in the here and now
|Rooftop terraces are hard to resist at lunch time with temple views like this! The white neoclassical building in the background was built in 1908
after the Nepalese Prime Minister visited Europe -- quite a contrast to the more traditional temple architecture of the rest of Durbar Square
|This man makes and sells the ultimate "green" (environmentally friendly) baskets out of leaves on Durbar Square
|The man-bird Garuda, Vishnu's mount, kneels in prayer
|Musicians make offerings to this four-armed statue of a music-loving god
|This little rat is the unlikely "vehicle" (i.e., form of transport) for the elephant-god Ganesh
|A local gets a kick out of these mask wearers during a festival parade near Durbar Square
|We lucked out! The Kumari Devi (Living Goddess) briefly appeared on the top balcony at the middle window of her palace. Our impression was of a
four-year-old with a lot of “tude,” very self-possessed and more than a little bored with having to be dressed up and on display at intervals throughout the day.
Who could blame her? We said "Namaste" as instructed but she, a goddess, didn’t deign to recognize us. Photos of the Kumari Devi are strictly prohibited.
|We liked this free-form wooden insert in the brick wall
|This stone inscription (1664) written by a Nepali king in 15 languages includes
one word of French and one of English, the word “winter”. A legend says milk will
flow from a spout in the middle if someone is able to decipher all 15 languages.
|This tiny Hanuman monkey statue is nearly hidden beneath the layers
of orange vermillion paste applied by generations of devotees
|Here is another statue of Hanuman (1672) that has been
honored to death -- his face has disappeared beneath a
coating of orange paste. I find this statue frankly disturbing!
|The Shiva-Parvati Temple. See the next picture for a zoom-in of Shiva and his consort at the top balcony window
|Shiva and his consort stare out of a high balcony window at the Shiva-Parvati Temple
|Telling a lie in front of this colorful statue of terrible Bhairab, god of justice, could result in instant death!
|A long line of buckets and containers wait to be filled with water by local Nepalis at Durbar Square