October 2019
  • Day17

    Kathmandu Valley – Bhaktapur

    November 3, 2019 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Along with Kathmandu and Patan, Bhaktapur was one of the three medieval city states that originally occupied the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur was on the old India to Tibet trade route, but really grew during the reign of King Yakshe Malla (15th century) with another growth spurt in the 18th century. The city was damaged in the 2015 earthquake and is characterised by three major squares:

    Durbar Square
    Just like those of both Kathmandu and Patan, the Durbar Square has many temples, as well as a King Malla column, Taleju Bell and a Royal Palace area; the latter is accessed by a magnificent Golden Gate (which has the 55 Window Palace to its right) and in its Mul Chowk is a Hindu only temple.

    Taumadi Tole
    Nearby, the second major square has the tallest temple in Nepal, the five storey Nyatapola Temple wits stairway flanked by stone figures, and the Bhairabnath Temple.

    Tachupal Tole
    The third major square was the original central square of Bhaktapur and the seat of royalty until the 16th century. The Dattatreya Temple is the main building on the square and along from this is a street of ornate houses, one of which houses the Woodcarving Museum with its 15th century Peacock Window facing out on view.

    We also enjoyed visiting the Potter's Square and walking the backstreets. Bhaktapur is an excellent day trip to make from Kathmandu.
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  • Day16

    Kathmandu Valley – Two gems

    November 2, 2019 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Just outside of the Kathmandu ring road are two very different, but culturally and religiously important, sites; Pashupatinath (Hindu) and Bodhnath (Buddhist).

    Nepal's most important Hindu temple stands on the bank of the Bagrati River and is as sacred here as Varanasi on the Ganges is to the Indians; the temple is closed to non-Hindu people so we could not enter, although we did mingle with the crowds. At the side, by the river and two bridges, are the cremation ghats. There were interesting views of all proceedings from the other side of the river.
    After this, we walked up the hill past lingam shrines and other temples and descended to the other side and headed for Bodhnath.

    Bodhnath (aka Boudha)
    Thia is Asia's largest stupa, covering approx 6,700 square meters, and was built originally about 600AD when the Tibetan king converted to Buddhism. It is surrounded now by a huge circle of shops, monasteries and other buildings. We walked round and visited the Guru Lhakhang and tiny Ajima temple before climbing the stupa and circling around it.
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  • Day15

    Kathmandu Valley - Patan

    November 1, 2019 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Along with Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, Patan (aka Lalitpur) was one of the three medieval city states that originally occupied the Kathmandu Valley. Patan has a long Buddhist history; most of its main buildings were erected in the 16th to 18th centuries by the Mallas and are located in the Durbar Square.

    There are many temples and monuments in the square and the Royal Palace occupies its eastern side; it is one of the architectural highlights of Nepal. The Royal Palace comprises:

    - the Mul Chowk, with its small, gilded Bidyapith Temple in the centre of the courtyard,
    - the smaller Sundari Chowk, with its carved and sunken Tusha Hiti water tank in its centre and the larger Bhandarkhal water tank outside, and
    - the northern Chowk with the Patan Museum housed around it; entry is via a beautiful golden gate.

    We enjoyed walks both south and north of the Durbar Square courtesy of the Lonely Planet guide book, taking in many interesting sites, including the Golden Temple (Kwa Bahal).
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  • Day14

    Kathmandu - Swayambunath

    October 31, 2019 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    The journey back to Kathmandu was uneventful and we all parted company the morning after arrival. There has been a great group dynamic on this trip and we have had a wonderful time. Now we are on our own for a few extra days in Kathmandu to see more sites here and in the Kathmandu Valley.

    Today we visited the “Monkey Temple” – Swayambunath – which is situated on a lofty hilltop looking over Kathmandu and is a jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography; its nickname is due to the hundreds of rhesus macaque monkeys that seem to be everywhere. The Eastern Stairway is very steep and at the top you are greeted by a thunderbolt (dorje), the Buddhist symbol for enlightenment. The Swayambunath Stupa itself is huge, with its white dome representing the earth and its 13-tiered tower representing the 13 stages to Nirvana. The squiggle under the piercing eyes represents unity and the third eye represents all-seeing insight. There are thousands of prayer flags fluttering in the wind; there are many other religious monuments surrounding the Stupa. Further along, we descended slightly to the Buddha Amideva park and contributed to the Peace Pond by trying to throw coins into an aperture. Swayambunath is a must-see site in Kathmandu.
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  • Day12

    Chitwan National Park – Mammals

    October 29, 2019 in Nepal ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

    We arrived at our destination, Rhino Lodge in Sauraha, via the Mahendra Highway and Bharatpur, at about 11:00am. After lunch, we went on a jeep safari to the Bis Hajar Tal wetland area (aka 20,000 lakes) in the Chitwan NP buffer zone. We saw various species of birds and other animals before returning to a community forest on the edge of Sauraha where we saw the heavily plated one-horned Indian rhinoceros in the flesh! We saw another one around 9:00pm as a rhino had wandered into the lodge grounds!

    Next day, we were up early for a dugout canoe trip followed by a 2-hour forest walk in the Chitwan NP. Birds, crocodiles and rhino were seen (see subsequent posts). This was a lot of fun and the 6:45am departure was worth the effort as it gets hot here later in the morning.

    During the course of our visit here we saw the following mammals:
    - Indian rhinoceros
    - Rhesus monkey
    - Spotted deer
    - Tiger 🙄
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  • Day11

    Chitwan National Park – Sauraha

    October 28, 2019 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Chitwan National Park is situated in a huge lowland area in central south Nepal and covers an area of 932 sq km. It was originally a hunting reserve in the 19th century inhabited by the local indigenous Tharu population, but an extensive malaria eradication program using DDT in 1954 meant that many other people could move into the area and the subsequent loss of natural habitat caused a reduction in the diversity and quantity of species. King Mahendra stopped this by making the area a royal reserve which eventually became a national park in 1973 and some 22,000 people were relocated outside of the park. With the Maoist insurgency from 1996-2006, however, the army was unable to protect against poaching and further reduction in species number and diversity followed. Now the army is back – and very much in evidence – and species number and diversity has increased; by 2017 there were in excess of 600 one-horned Indian rhino, characterised by their large plates, and approx 140 Royal Bengal tigers.

    After lunch, it was an ox cart tour through Sauhara to Bhagmara to visit a local Tharu village to see their communal living style and houses; these are built with reed and have a mixture of mud and cow dung smoothed over the surface. They speak a different language to Nepali.
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  • Day10

    Bandipur – walk to Siddha Gufa Cave

    October 27, 2019 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    This 90 minute walk down from the town offered some good views of wildlife. The cave itself is the largest in Nepal at 50m high and 437m deep. There was a lot of clambering around and use of ropes rewarding us with views of Ganesh’s face and other structures.Read more