Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Thursday, 9 November 2017

We're at the start of a two-week trip to Nepal and Bhutan with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. We actually left home on Monday evening, but with travels and a nearly 11-hour time difference, it was already Wednesday evening when we arrived in Kathmandu. (Nepal keeps its own unique time zone -- 5 hours and 45 minutes ahead of GMT, or 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead of the US eastern time zone. Nepal had to split the difference between India and Bangladesh.)

Kathmandu doesn't feel too much different than India. The local languages use the Devanagari script and share a lot of words with Hindi. There's a substantial Buddhist influence: even though the country is about 80% Hindu, the border between Hinduism and Buddhism seems quite fluid.

We've seen messy overhead wires throughout India -- most notably in Mumbai and Delhi, but Kathmandu raised the wire tangles to a new level. Fortunately, most of these seemed to be communications wires rather than power lines.
"Durbar" means "palace", so just about every good-size city in Nepal has a "Durbar Square". Our first stop of the day was at the Kathmandu Durbar Square, which is less of an open space, than the heart of the old city with palaces, temples, monuments, and some open space.

Outside the old palace is Basantapur Square.
"Bagh-Chal" (Tigers and Goats) is an old Nepali shepherd's game that combines elements of checkers and chess.
The chowk (courtyard) in the Kumari Bahal. The structure survived the 25 April 2015 earthquake, but strong beams brace the walls  against aftershocks and further earthquakes. The Kumari is Kathmandu's "living goddess", who is selected between the ages of 3 and 4, and holds the position until puberty, when a new Kumari is chosen and the former Kumari returns to being a normal mortal. The current Kumari was selected just about two months ago and is only 3 1/2 years old.
The area around Jagannath Temple is filled with pigeons. King Pratap Malla's Column lies in ruins after the 2015 earthquake.
The remains of the column.
Dogs and calves ignore the pigeons outside the Jagannath Temple.
Tower in Mohan Chowk inside the palace.

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