Kathmandu Day 1: As I wandered my way to one of the Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, it didn’t take long before a street guide approached me and we would agree for him to take me to see the 3 main Durbar Squares which are World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu. We went up to a nearby rooftop cafe where he began talking about the famous living goddesses of Nepal called Kumari.
Of the many historical background stories that followed through upon our conversation, the Nepalese tradition to worship female living goddesses called Kumari captured my attention the most and for the next hour or so of course, this would be the main topic of our conversation.
These living goddesses are chosen at a very young age, by members of the Newari community. If chosen, they are taken into the Kumari home where they will be taken care of 24/7 during their reign. A chosen Kumari must not bleed during her time, once a Kumari bleeds, it is believed that the divine spirit would leave her body. This means that Kumaris are often replaced when she begins her menstrual cycle or at any given point where blood is drawn. The child goddess will not be able to walk outside of her home but must be carried on a golden palanquin and will only be able to appear publicly on the streets during special ceremonies. Wow, right? Unfortunately, I did not get a glimpse of the Kumari that day but this is where she lived.
It is believed that if a Kumari laughs or cries when she sees you, you will become severely ill and it may even lead to death, if she is silent during the time that you reach out to seek her blessings, it means that your wishes have been acknowledged.The King of Nepal would visit the Kumari once a year and kisses her feet to seek her supreme blessings.
Source: National Geographic / Photo by: Stephanie Sinclair
We ventured to Bhaktapur Durbar Square shortly after and I was able to capture this beautiful photo in the middle of it all.
The aftermath of the Nepal earthquake left substantial remnants in the Kathmandu Valley as you can see the extent of the damages all around. Bases where temples used to rise metres up into the sky now stands alone.
Despite its devastating event, this beautiful city still had plenty to offer.
A picture with Kali – the destroyer of evil forces
Things to take away from exploring the Kathmandu Valley:
– Although the country is poor, its people are generally hard working and honest. The street guides would often not name the price of their tour but tell you to pay them as to how much you think they deserve.
– The food in Kathmandu consisted of traditional Nepalese meals. The locals generally have 3 meals a day; two of which are dall baht (rice, lentils, pickles and vegetables) and one with simple bread and beans. You can get a plate of dumplings for around $3.50 or a plate of mixed rice and vegetables and condiments for around the same price.
– Many Taxi services around Nepal will not accept to take you by the meter. Most of the time you would have to bargain down a price with them. A twenty minute trip will ask for a minimum of 200 Rs ($2.50 AUD) if you are assertive with your bargaining. Night rates are different and are often double the day rate so expect to pay around 500 Rs for the same ride.
– I booked my hotel on Airbnb 2 days prior to departure so there weren’t a whole lot of options. I didn’t want to pay for a shabby place so I ended up paying $80 for two nights in Kathmandu. Now that I think about it, that was HELL expensive. You can definitely get some decent accomodation in nearby hotels for a fraction of the price. But if you’re a person of comfort over budget then you’ll have to sacrifice the dollars like me :)
…Next up: Part 2 Trek to Poon Hill!