Postcards from Kathmandu…

29 Nov

My flight was canceled and so I took the next flight to Kathmandu. Fortunately, the second flight was pretty smooth without much hiccups. After a few hours of sleep, I slide the cabin windows open as the captain announced that we will be reaching Kathmandu soon and we could see the snow-capped Mount Everest and several of its sister mountains in the horizon. Unfortunately, you can only see a white patch in this photo but you can imagine the majesty of the white mountains. Not a bad start of a working/leisure trip to Nepal.

Kathmandu during this time of the year is dusty and dry with extremely hot sun in the day and freezing temperatures at night. The narrow dirt paths and bumpy roads are exactly as one my previous trips. I just notice a slight improvement on certain roads and the increasing amount of cars on the roads. The crazy array of buildings remain pretty much the same as how I remembered it.

Kathmandu Guest House has undergone some light renovations and it is in the midst of building a new wing to accomodate the increasing amount of tourists. I rendezvous-ed with Li Kim on this trip and we were followed Su Ming and her KC pilgrimage team. Meanwhile, there were book readings at Pilgrims’ Bookstore and some work to change the window display at the same bookstore.

The entrance of Kathmandu Guest House opens up to an oasis of calm amidst the Thamel hustle and bustle. This is where I first arrived in Nepal 6 years ago and it brings back many fond memories of being on pilgrimage with Rinpoche on two occasions over the years. During that time, faces come and faces go leaving a warm longing feeling. For some reason, I always seem to be coming back to Nepal for work just like how Rinpoche once told me to imagine. So, I relish these trips although they are short and almost devoid of any time to shop.

Thamel is busy with hiking tourists and peddlers alike. It never loses its charm although the streets are narrow, busy and quite literally a pedestrian nightmare. My favourite shopping in Thamel has always been the books at Pilgrims Bookstore, Tibet Book House and Vajra Books. On this trip, I only managed to make it to Pilgrims’, for obvious reasons.

I stayed in a nice quaint double bed room overlooking the inner courtyard that have a garden with a beautiful Buddha and some garden tables. Its so nice that when the sun comes out, you will see some caucasians will rush to place their mat and bathe in the sun.

We are heading to Vijashwari Vajrayogini (Nepalese pronunciation replace anything with a V with a B so it sounds like Bijashwari Bajrayogini) temple, which is the red temple sitting on this little hill.

A little 4-armed Chenrezig/Kuan Yin shrine heralds the Buddhist nature of this temple. The man in blue check is circumambulating the shrine while reciting Om Mani Padme Hum. The style of shrine is indigenous Newari and not Tibetan although this deity is extremely popular in Tibet. The Newaris, are a indigenous ethnic group of Nepalese who are traditionally Buddhists but did not retain a tradition of monastics. Hence, they have lay Tantric priests that serve the community with mainly rituals and religious discourse.

The temple is constructed in a typical Nepalese way. The building encloses a courtyard of various stupas and shrines and the main shrine is crowned with ornate eaves and tapered roof. The shrine within contains the various forms of Vajrayogini, of which photography is forbidden. However, we did manage to get nice photos for our Vajrayogini and other Power Places in Nepal book. This sounds like a major advert but you can check it out by clicking the other books menu button on the top part of this blog. The photos are rare and the first of its kind. We had a wonderful puja within the shrine and dedicating it towards everything virtuous.

Our pasted-on halo from Vijashwari temple fell off when we arrive at the Pashupati temple. We were there to pay homage to the Naropa and Tilopa caves. However, the strewn rubbish all over the field along with some cow droppings made for a rather unpleasant experience. Doing our best to be true blue pilgrims, we visualized everything clean and pure so that we focus on our prayers and this pilgrimage and not the strewn rubbish.

Here are the Tilopa and Naropa caves. Someone painted it red recently and as we prepared offerings. I prepped myself to give an account of Naropa’s life and his extraordinary devotion to the yogi Tilopa. I did it and told everyone to place their foreheads on the walls of the cave and pray to have courage and perseverance in their spiritual practice and devotion to their Guru just like Naropa’s. I restored my tattered halo for a moment. Jokes aside, it felt good to inspire people.

I ended my 3-day trip to Nepal with a rushed visit to Bouddhanath Stupa. Su Ming and her friends had returned and I had just had a little bit of time to run around the stupa pretending to be holy while I kept an eye out for nice statues. I wished I had more time (and money) to hang around Bouddha and various other places in Nepal. Even if it was not for religious purpose, it would be great to go on a really short hike like everyone else is doing.

Next stop – India.

5 Responses to “Postcards from Kathmandu…”

  1. Rad December 5, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Ooh, Nepal!
    I almost went there but cancelled the trip :p
    I wanted to go there just to hike the snowy mountain or get as close as possible to it.

    I might need to re-plan the trip hmmm

  2. Arun December 11, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Nice pics. Indeed nice trip. Pashupatinath is holy place.

  3. Arun December 11, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Read about Lord dattatraya. Guru of all Gurus. God bless u.

  4. There's No Way But Up! December 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Thanks guys.
    Rad: You should go to Nepal, its great for trekking

    Arun. Yes, Pashupati is holy and great place.

  5. Risa Spinetti November 18, 2018 at 7:38 am #

    I like this web blog very much, Its a real nice situation to read and find info .

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