STREETS OF KATHMANDU





Surrounded by the greatest Himalayan heights, the kingdom of Nepal is a land of eternal attraction, a place where one visit is hardly ever enough. It's a land of colorful cultures, ancient history and peaceful people. With a population of half a million, Kathmandu is Nepal's biggest and most cosmopolitan city, a meeting place of a dozen ethnic groups. It did not seem like a venture outside of India, as I strolled in the streets of Kathmandu dotted with colorful Tankhas, varied masks, hot food, and friendly faces. Only the change in currency and the consistently content demeanor of the people were some reminders!



TRAVEL COLUMN, INDIA TODAY, 2004 (Excerpt)





Within the next 24 hours that followed, incense was lit in front of Ajma Goddess. Prayers got uttered and circumbulation completed at Swayambhunath, with 2000 year old Buddhist Chaityas and Buddha’s all-seeing eyes on all four sides. Heads got bent in front of Pashupatinath—the Shiva deity enclosed in a two-tiered golden roof and silver doors. Blessings got invoked from the benevolent half-open eyes of the Buddha, and winter gear got bought from Thamel, the colorful shopping street of Kathmandu.


A walk along the Durbar Square, the historic seat of royalty where the kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized, was truly a feast for the soul. The Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.; Kal Bhairav, the God of Destruction, Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chowk, The Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Big Drum and the Jagannath Temple are some of key tourist attractions.


Cute kids, pigeons crawling up lovingly along temple walls, frequent idols of Ganesha, euphoric monks gleaming in the streets, devout Nepalese women clicking away their rosaries, and marketplaces resplendent with images of Tara... everything had an equal share in slowing the frantic rush of blood in my city veins. My proud heart was humbled. The smiling Nepalese faces put me in a defenseless vulnerable trusting posture.