Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 117 - Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Sq and Boudhanath

Sophie has many different Couchsurfers' belongings at her home, and people come and go at random times, usually when they start a trek and also before they leave the country. They leave the things that are unneccessary for a trek with Sophie. I think it's so great how open she is with her home, to be so trusting of everyone. If only the rest of the world was this way.

When I arrived back at her place last night, a German couple, Rachel and Jonas, came back from their 5-day trek in the Annapura trekking area. I ended up tagging along with them today to sightsee in Kathmandu, saving on taxi fare to the different places we visited.

The first place we visited was the Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square in Bantapur. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is a concentrated area of both Hindu and Buddhist temples. One of the more interesting structures in the area is the Kumari-ghar, which is the home of the 'kumari' or living goddess who is considered to be the incarnation of the goddess Taleju. The little girl has spent her whole live pretty much imprisoned, only being shown to the public twice a year. We came at a good time because tomorrow is a celebration, and one of the days that the Kumari would be shown. The festival is called Indra Jatra and it marks the end of monsoon season. There are activists that believe it is child abuse, to keep the Kumari locked up and unable to have her own genuine childhood, or even a life of her own because everyone looks to her as a goddess. I think the different lamas in Tibetan culture also end up having their lives chosen for them, but I wonder how much freedom they have in their lives compared to this little girl...

Afterwards, I headed to the Boudhanath, which is a huge stupa in Bouda, an area with many Tibetans. The stupa was in the center of a touristy Tibetan-inspired area, where many people visited, walked around the stupa, and spun prayer wheels. I walked around the stupa three times, and noticed the way the people prayed to the stupa. They had wooden boards on the floor, and when they prostrated, they placed pieces of cloth under their hands to slide forward until they were fully lying down towards the stupa.

At the end of the night, I headed back to Durbar Square to check into a room there, since I would already be there for the festival tomorrow and rooms were so cheap. It would have been cheaper to stay there than to get a taxi from Sophie's place the next day. For dinner, Jonas and Rachel joined me at a local Indian restaurant, where I tried the dal bhat dish, which is very popular in Nepal. It consisted of rice, lentil soup, some curry, and some vegetables. I ate with my hands the way the locals did, and I think it pleased the restaruant workers. Good to know I was doing something right!


Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Sq

Dal Bhat

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