Nepal… a mysterious ancient corner of the planet that someone refers to as the top of the world.
This world is full of wonders, superstitions and pleasant surprises. The air is filled with mysteries and spicy aromas that add savour to every minute of your trip.
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the place like no other. This is the city that opens up it face gradually, piece by piece. It is immediately after you step off the plane that you become amazed by the mountains around and their colour of lush green.
On your way to hotel you cannot stop thinking about how this city manages to combine the spirit of past centuries with the rapid pace of the business life of today? Yet when you come to the tourist center called Thamel all the fuss steps to the background and it is only shopping that keeps you unrested.
When walking along the narrow streets of Thamel you may find anything. Souvenir shops with colourful trinkets. Nepalese handmade knives, shops with sweets or winter clothes made of wool in every colour of the rainbow. As for the prices – they are very encouraging for tourists. The things are at least twice as cheap as the same sold in India, and of course they are times cheaper than those in our country. As for the hotels – no need to worry about them. Starting from 5-starred Hayat with excitable nightlife and up to hostels at 5 dollars per room – they can fit any taste.
Native people are very nice and amiable. Women amaze with fantastic shape of their eyes, dark eyebrows and rapier glance. All men are like the pick of the bunch: dark-haired and handsome! Their sooty skin emphasizes the strength of their sound bodies.
Kathmandu is the city with history. Its territory provides for architectural and historic monuments of Nepal: former capital cities Patan and Bhaktapur together with a number of big monasteries and temples of different religions. One of the most worshipped deities is Ganesh. The one who removes obstacles, as people refer to him.
As for the religions, there is something unique about them here. In this place you may find peaceful and good-natured Buddhists – and come across archaic rituals of sacrifice performed not a hundred miles away. For instance, in the Dakshin Kali temple where the blood flows like water day and night. Especially on Saturday, the banner day, the day of Kali.
When coming to Bhaktapur you might have a feeling like the time has stopped and you have appeared somewhere in a lost ancient realm. You can wander through these places for hours and watch local people drawing thangkas (a thangka, or a scroll, is a specific religious art of Tibetan Buddhism) or tempering clay for making pottery in the glowing furnace.
The banners with propaganda of blood donation that you can find on ancient streets both surprise you and remind that this is still the world of today that you are in. This issue has appeared topical in Nepal, and there are activists who settle it.
In Bhaktapur you can buy bronze statues at a very good price since this is the very place where they are manufactured and from where they are distributed across the entire Nepal and India.
Local people are very superstitious and they adore all kinds of charms and bells used to protect them and their loved people from evil spirits. That is why almost in every temple – and you can find the temple around every corner – you can hear the bells ringing and smell a pleasant aroma of burning incense.
In Patan, the next capital of Katmandu, you can even meet a local living virgin goddess – Kumari. She is selected as soon as the previous girl reaches her puberty or gets a scratch. She is considered to retain the holiness within until the first drop of her blood comes out.
She resides in Kumari Ghar (or Chowk) – the House of Living Goddess located at the corner of Durbar and Basantapur squares.
Kumari does not often show herself on public, but every interested tourist may come to her courtyard and try his luck by uttering loudly “Oh, kasto gajab!” (“Oh, My Goddess!”). Sometimes after such a passionate appeal she may look out of the window on the second floor.
On holidays she even comes out to the balcony dressed in national costume.
Another -point on the Katmandu must-see list is the Monkey Temple. This is an ancient and very beautiful Buddhist temple with large flocks of monkeys living on its territory. These monkeys love to snatch food directly from tourists’ hands ?. And from this place you can also see a magnificent panorama of the entire city so that the homes of local residents look like toy boxes of different colours.
Various places of Kathmandu bear different atmosphere, states and moods. If you come to Pashupatina at night you shall witness the ceremony of cremation as a part of evening ritual. And your presence there might evoke various thoughts and reflections on eternal things: about life and death, about the difference of the ways that we all have in this manifold world.
The next place that sends shivers down your spine is Boudhanath. This is one of the biggest Buddhist stupas in the world. When walking around it you might have a feeling that you are as if entwined with continuous flow of existence, that you support something definitely grand and inexplicable. You start to feel that all people on earth are of holy kind, it’s just that everyone has this holiness of their own. Everyone has his own experience, and people are learning from their mistakes, all of them – in their own good time.
Having taken an inspiring walk around the stupa, one may sit down and proceed with reflections in one of the restaurants or pastry shops on the roof of the houses nearby. They shall provide one with a fascinating view of this place.
By the way, speaking about the cuisine: national Nepalese food is spicy, so that in rainy season the local spicy soup with mo-mo dumplings shall be the best thing to brace you up.
You can also find Chinese restaurants and fantastic Japanese cuisine.
The world of deserts is represented by European cheesecakes and lemon cakes made “to Nepal style”, yet very tasty.
As the sun sets, the night life of Katmandu begins. The brightest day in terms of “night adventures” shall be Friday – not Saturday, like most countries of the world have – since Sunday here is an official working day.
All the year round you will meet here young people from all over the world who come back in the evening to the hotels of the tourist district of Thamel after the trips taken within the day. Tourists are offered a variety of places where individual musicians and music bands perform. There are clubs where everyone can dance. There are cozy lounge-bars placed on house-roofs and overlooking the starry sky. There you can sit and leisurely enjoy your hookah and a cup of tasty local tea.
There is another kind of entertainment popular in Nepal – extreme sports. Travel agencies shall offer you parachute jumping, elephant riding, safari trips, rafting and many other activities – and at fairly good price. Given the yearning and aspiration, one may get to the top of the world and fly over Mount Everest.
And by the way – don’t forget your camera. Great shots are guaranteed!