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Monday, April 29, 2013

A Walk Through the Streets of Kathmandu : Durbar Square


Durbar Square
one of the palaces in Durbar Square

We had a few days left in Nepal before we made our way back to Southeast Asia. I was getting used to my daily routine in Thamel – waking up at around 9am; having breakfast under the morning sun at Hot Breads’ rooftop where the crew already knew my name, walking around the streets of Thamel, writing, reading more books, sometimes having a night out with my friend, Paul, or meeting our German friends from the trek. This happened for almost a week straight. So when Paul asked me to see the Durbar Square, I initially said no. I was just way too lazy and comfortable to even walk around just a few blocks. Yes, I was that lazy. But eventually, Paul was able to convince me. And I’m glad he did.


Durbar Square
streets of Kathmandu

It wasn’t really just about the palaces and temples which date back to the 12th century, it was also about the experience of walking along the old cobbled streets of Kathmandu. How ancient it still feels when you look at the old red-brick buildings and windows, but somehow modern when you see the small shops selling all kinds of things. Or the mayhem of electric wires covering most of the buildings, the garbage scattered all around. But a few things still remain intact – Hinduism and Buddhism and the Nepali tradition.

Durbar Square
mayhem of electric wires

Durbar Square
chaos and garbage all around

Kathmandu
old but colorful cyclos

Durbar Square
colorful rugs being sold in the streets of Kathmandu

Upon entering the Durbar Square, one can already see the various temples and buildings with intricate carvings, and various statues of Hindu gods.

Durbar Square
people feeding hundreds of pigeons in Durbar Square

Durbar Square
Maju Deval Temple

Durbar Square
Garuda Statue

Durbar Square
Shiva - Parvati Temple

Durbar Square
Lord Shiva and Parvati up-close

Durbar Square
a glimpse of a ceiling inside one of the palaces

Durbar Square
Jagannath Temple famous for its erotic wood carvings


Durbar Square
One of the first things that caught my eye and interest was this large stone carving of Kala Bhairav,
 considered to be one of many forms of Lord Shiva.

Durbar Square


The most interesting temple we visited was the Kumari Bahal or the House of the Living Goddess. Inside is a small courtyard where people wait to get a glimpse of the young Princess or the Living Goddess. As what was explained to us, she was selected when she was only 3-4 years old and had to undergo a process to know if she really is the reincarnation of the goddess Durga. She lives in this temple and is worshipped by devouts. They, and also us tourists, wait for her in the courtyard, as she only looks out her window twice an hour. She lives here until she menstruates, and they start again the search for the next Living Goddess.

Durbar Square
courtyard inside the Kumari Bahal or the House of the Living Goddess

Durbar Square
where the Living Goddess looks out over the people waiting for her

Durbar Square
lovely and intricate windows

Durbar Square


Durbar Square
while waiting to get a glimpse of the princess

As we made our way back to Thamel, we saw a high stupa with Tibetan prayer flags. And we’ve developed a certain kind of affection for anything Tibetan after our trip to Dharamsala and the Tibetans we met there and during our Annapurna Trek. We walked into a small alleyway and found the Kathesimbu Stupa. It’s a small stupa but one can still feel the calmness in the area as with most of the Tibetan Buddhist temples we’ve been to. It’s a quiet place hidden among the chaotic streets of Kathmandu.

Durbar Square
Kathesimbu Stupa

Durbar Square
prayer flags and the all-seeing eye of Buddha


Nepal isn't only about the majestic Himalayas and adventures, one can also enjoy walking around the old streets to get a glimpse of the ancient valley of Kathmandu.