Religious Kathmandu, Nepal
Day 157: Country #17
The ground was still muddy in the morning, but I saw a group of men unloading truckloads of gravel to cover the street, which effectively cut off my hostel, so I grabbed my bag and headed to the Metro Trek Adventures office and told the owner that I’d switch to his hostel.
He took me over by motorbike and gave me a better room than I had before then offered me breakfast. Afterwards, we went back to his office as he called to confirm pickup for a bus tour.
I waited a while, but the bus eventually arrived, full of locals and regional travelers like Indians. I was sat next to another English speaking foreigner so the tour guide could talk to us separately in English.
It was a pretty action packed day with various temples and holy sites. We started off with Mrigasthali, a Hindu temple, which the other foreigner and I couldn’t fully enter, so we looked around the area and took pictures.
Next, we went to Boudhanath, a Buddhist temple surrounded by a cluster of shops with a large stupa in the middle that looks out over the plaza with huge (scary?) eyes. The stupa was off limits, but we were free to roam around and even get on the roof of a temple, where I noticed a bunch of solar panels were installed.
Then we drove to Bhudanilkantha in the outskirts of Kathmandu to view a “floating” stone statue of Vishnu, a Hindu god.
After a few quick blessings and prayers, we headed to Swayambhunath, a huge temple complex completely surrounded by vibrant, colorful Buddhist prayer flags between every building and tree. Two entire hills.
The tour concluded with a final stop at Buddha Park, a place where locals hung out under three large golden statues.
The day gave me a sense for Nepal’s role as the nexus between Hinduism and Buddhism and how it differed from that which I observed in Indonesia.
If you notice that there are enough English speaking locals outside the tourist areas, you’ll probably be able to enjoy a tour for locals, because the guide will likely also know English and will be happy to accommodate a foreigner who happened to find the tour. Local tours are much cheaper than those priced for western foreign tourists.