Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nepal Trip Part 3

Before coming to Nepal, I researched about the tourist spots that are interesting to visit. The hotel offers travel package but it seems like too expensive. There are six captivating spots; they divided it into two days of tour, worth 80 USD each day. So the total would be 160 USD (585 AED). Since I have befriended my Nagarkot tourist guide, I asked him if those tourist spots can be seen in one whole day. He said it's possible so I asked him to accompany me the next day. He hired a taxi for whole day worth 3,000 NPR (122 AED) which is way cheaper than what the hotel was offering. So after breakfast, Pradeep (my tourist guide and now my Facebook friend) picked me up at around 9 in the morning and we started our journey.

Our first stop was in Boudhanath. It is among the largest stupas (a dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine) in South Asia and it has become the focal point of the Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty six meters overhead. It is required for the foreigners to pay the entrance fee but Pradeep advise me to act like a local since I look like a Nepali. Fortunately, I was not asked by the security to get ticket first. Instead, I entered directly the vicinity and acted normal. It is one of the perks of being an Asian tourist in an Asian country. Well, the place was surrounded by a lot of tourists and small souvenir shops. I saw monks in maroon robes walking around and I also spotted some locals worshipping and praying inside the stupa. For centuries, Boudhanath has been an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalis. This place was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

Pashupatinath Temple was our next destination. It is considered as one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. Before you enter the main entrance, you have to remove your shoes and tour the place with bare foot. Upon entering you will notice that the place houses the sacred linga or phalic symbol of Lord Shiva. There was a place where only locals are allowed to enter. The guard asked me a question in Nepalese on which I wasn't able to answer, so on that instance, I was not permitted to enter the holy place. So I asked Pradeep to go inside and take some pictures. That part of the temple is a place where devotees can be seen taking ritual dips in the Holy Bagmati River flowing beside the temple. Also, cremation of the dead body Hindus takes place at the bank of Bagmati River. It was so crowded that time; nevertheless, it was fun to experience some Hindi culture.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site was the place of our next stop. It was the Bhaktapur City which means "the city of devotees" in Nepali language. It is also known as Bhadgaon. That time, I have to pay the entrance fee. I'm not sure how the guard identified me as a foreigner. As always, Bhaktapur is free of entrance for the locals. Today, Bhaktapur City covers an area of four square miles and is flanked by Khasa Khusung and Hanumante Rivers. The site is indeed quite big with several old temples which showed true Nepali culture and architecture. Among other monuments in Bhaktapur are the big bell, the Golden Gate, the five-tiered temple of Nyatapola, the Bhairab temple and the Dattatreya Square with its woodcarving and metal work museums. The second part of this tour will be posted in the next few days.


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