5 Local Treasures of Nepal
This guest post is written by a new contributing author and Nomad, Sujan Pariyar. Sujan is building a social enterprise empire in his hometown Kathmandu, Nepal to fund his non-profit, "Children's Home Nepal." He has also founded Budhanil Guest House, Inxchan Clothing, Inxchan Trekking, and much more. Check out more of his work and how you can get involved here.
Kathmandu is rich in cultural values, it is also known as the city of temples. Everywhere you go you will be able to visit a temple or statue of a god. In Nepal, we have a lot of Hindu people and Hindu scriptures claimed that we have more than 33 million god's (33 Koti). Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal. Approximately 26% of our population practices Buddhism. Kathmandu valley is rich in temples, Buddhist stupas, and churches without any discrimination to religious values.
Having worked with foreigners for more than five years now, I have a deep understanding for this beautiful place I call home. These are the five places I love to show guests and I personally spend a lot of time visiting these places myself.
1. Budhanilkantha Temple and Krishna Temple
Budhanilkantha is the area I live in which offers great religious values. Budhanilkantha is a Hindu open air temple dedicated to lord Vishnu, and the temple is identified as a large reclining statue of him. Most of the time you can see hundreds of people visiting, celebrating many different festivals and even getting married. Vishnu is one of the 3 main gods in Hinduism who is the preserver/saver of the world.
In just around ten minute walk you can find Krishna temple. Krishna is one the reincarnations of Lord Vishnu. Whenever you enter the temple you can feel the positive vibes and hear people chanting “Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Hare Hare” will bring positivity inside you. Followers of Krishna will dance with great pleasure during this chant.
This is usually the second place I show people. It's one of the most peaceful places in Nepal with lots of cultural and religious significance. Once you enter the place, the first thing people will say is, “Wow, it’s so beautiful!” Boudhanath is a Buddhist stupa, but many other religious people also visit for internal peace and a good time. This is a place for everyone. The stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. Boudhanath was listed into UNESCO world Heritages in 1979 which made it one of the most popular tourist sights. On April 25, 2015, a terrible earthquake badly damaged the stupa and as a result the whole structure of the dome had to be removed. This has been recently reconstructed and the view provides bliss to the eye and soul. The top of the main statue is gold plated. People believe in the existence of relics from monks inside the dome.
3. Durbar Square and Garden of Dreams
In the center of Kathmandu, one of the very famous places is Thamel. You will not be surprised to see many shops offering the same products next door. All the things you need as a tourist you will be able to find in Thamel. You will be able to buy souvenirs like Nepali hats (Topi) , Nepali Knives (Khukuri) , Nepali tea, Pashmina and many other Nepali quality products. Just at the entrance of Thamel way, you will be able to find “Garden of Dreams” a quiet, fresh, cozy and beautiful garden where you can enjoy meditation, writing, reading or a peaceful nap in nature.
Just around a 25-minute walk to the south, you will reach Kathmandu Durbar Square which was badly damaged by the devastating earthquake and reconstruction is still on process. You will be able to experience a unique architectural style of temples which might be a reason your camera will be full of pictures. Many years ago, kings and their families used to live there. One of the unique things that you will be experiencing is visiting “Kumari House”. Kumari is a living goddess of Nepal, she is believed to be a host of goddess Durga. Many people pray for her and seeing her is getting you blessed. The very good time is to be around 1-3 pm with lots of groups, then she will be seen for 15-20 sec.
4. Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath)
West of Thamel, on the top of a hill you will be able to see a shining golden Toran which is swayambhunath stupa. There are two entrances to swayambhunath stupa, one leads with 365 steps to the top of the hill and another starts from Buddha Park. Buddha park is with heavenly statues of 3 Buddha ( Avalokiteshvara, Amitaba Buddha, and Padmasambhava) these portrayals of Buddha are the biggest Buddhist statues in Nepal. Kathmandu is supposed to be a lake which Manjusri ( A holy man) cut a gorge at Chovar, having a vision of a valley suitable for settlement. After water drained out, it is believed that a lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower became Swayambhunath. You will be noticing lots of monkeys during your visit which is why swayambhunath is also called monkey temple. It is believed that lice from Manjusri hair transformed into monkeys. If you are carrying food on your hand or water bottles, you should be sharing those with monkeys otherwise, they will possibly attack you for food. For Nepali monkeys, it always better not to go too near for pictures. The dome shape of Swayambhunath temple represents the entire world. Above the dome, large pairs of eyes on each four sides of the main stupa represent Wisdom and compassion. You will be able to see a panoramic view of Kathmandu valley from monkey temple. Prayer flags around the hills give you positive vibes during your visit. Prayer flags represent peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.Flags are hanged in trees so that the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind which will spread good will and compassion into all the pervading space. Don’t forget to get one as a souvenir for yourself.
After your arrival in Nepal, the first thing that you will notice from your car is the World Heritage Site Pashupatinath, smoke, and a river. Pashupatinath is one of the most sacred Hindu temples, and huge amounts of followers from Nepal and India visit every year. Pashupatinath represents lord Shiva who is supposed to be a god of destruction. Shiva is also supposed to be the god of gods in Hinduism and has many followers. In special days like Shivaratri, there will be thousands of people waiting in a line for 3-4 km just to see 5-6 seconds of Shiva Linga inside the main temple and the area will be filled with followers smoking weed. It would be interesting for you to see followers of Shiva who are covered all over with ash. There are peoples who leave home ,all the luxury and stay in temples for self-satisfaction and devotion to god. There are numerous small temples in Pashupati area containing Shiva Linga ( a representation of Shiva). Every day you will notice dead people being burnt in a religious way and the smoke from the body on Pashupatinath. As like other temples in Nepal, Pashupatinath main temple´s top is also gold plated. You will also notice the presence of monkeys around the temple. Other Nepalese and Indians, tourists are not allowed to visit the main temple.
Nepal is a wonderful country with marvelous mountains and landscape. The Nepalese economy deeply depends on tourism, especially sustainable tourism that supports local businesses. Due to the devastating earthquake, Nepal´s economy has decreased and to cover up Nepal has to go a very long way. It’s great news for Nepalese that Lonely Planet listed Nepal as one of the top 10 destinations for 2017. This new year we aim to become a prosperous country with job opportunities, better education, agriculture, tourism and good governance. Welcome to Nepal!
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