Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nepal Day 12: Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu's Durbar Square is one of the 7 world heritage sites in Kathmandu.  It is famous for the elegant architecture and wood carvings decorations.  Durbar Square basically means 'royal square'.  It is right outside of the old royal palace of Kathmandu.  There are many 'temples' around Durbar Square.  I said 'temples', but Nepalis definition of  a 'temple' is very different from that of Chinese.  When we say 'temple', we would expect a couple of big or small halls with Buddha statues.  In Nepali context, a temple can be just a single structure with any Buddha statue or image. 

Durbar Square is also a big market place for both the tourists and the locals.  The tourists come for the souvenirs, while the locals use another part of the square in the early morning as their flower market as well as vegetable market.  The above is the Basantapur Square, which is part of the Durbar Square, in the afternoon, filled with souvenir stalls.  
Lohan Chowk is one beautiful structure at one corner of the Durbar Square, with two elegant towers.  As usual, everything is covered with a thick layer of dust.  

Near the entrance to the old Royal Palace, stands a 3-story brick building, with magnificent windows and a long bronze ribbon hanging down from the roof, signifying this is a residence of a living goddess.  Here is Kumari Bahal, the official residence of the most powerful, & most respected living goddess of Nepal.  

Inside the building, the corridors are dark, the courtyard is small and depressing.  Behind the intricately carved windows, I could see nothing but darkness.  

Kumari Bahal is a place where touts are abundant.  When I entered the Kumari Bahal, a guy waved to me as if he were my long time friend, then he tried to explained to me about Kumari Bahal.  My interest was totally turned off, as I knew he was one of those 'guides'.  


Durbar Square was the center of Kathmandu, and it still is.  A political debate was hosted right at the Durbar Square.  

I visited Durbar Square 3 times during my stay, but I was stopped and asked to buy admission ticket only once.  The time when I was stopped, I had my camera hanging on my neck, a Lonely Planet guide book on hand, planning to spend some leisure time in the square and admire its architecture excellence.  Out of no where, a lady came to greet me in Nepali.  At first, I thought the people here were so nice, then she continued to ask me to buy admission ticket.  I was totally turned off, turned my back immediately, and left.  

I quickly stuffed my camera and guide book into my bag, made another turn and entered Durbar Square from another place.  Nobody stopped me for admission ticket!  If Durbar Square is properly maintained, then I will be more than happy to pay my dues, but it is not.  The whole Durbar Square is in an appalling state, going to look more like ruins than anything.  Well, that's a bit out of topic.

The image of Kala Bhairava in Kathmandu Durbar Square is often seen in travel books.  

You can find a complete list of blog entries about my Nepal trip here.

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