Traveled: April 2014
After having my first breakfast in Nepal at the Sanu House (the home-cooked masala tea was the best, and it’s bottomless, too!), I asked Sarita, the homestay’s owner, how to commute to Bhaktapur from Gwarko, Lalitpur. Sanu House is just along the Ring Road, near the Gwarko junction. Following her directions, I took a bus at the junction, as I heard the conductor yelling “Bhaktapur! Bhaktapur!” I didn’t have to confirm because the bark was loud and clear. I told the conductor I’m heading to Bhaktapur Durbar Square, for which he ticketed me Rs 25. Beside me in the non-aircon bus is a girl in her school uniform. A shy person as I am, I initiated a conversation (which I won’t normally do when in my home country) by asking her where I should get off to get to my destination, for which she sweetly replied, and in good English, that I have to get off at Suryavinayak, the stop after she gets off. This sounded like what I heard Sarita said (not sure because Suryavinayak sounded complicated). The trip took 30 minutes.
I walked a little from the bus stop until I was stopped at apparently a small ticket booth to pay Rs 1,500. Quite costly but I shall realize later that it’s all worth it. After all, it’s listed in the World Heritage Sites.
Children I met right after going through the ticket booth. I would have wanted to capture them while playing but when they saw the camera, they were faster than my hands and found them already posing in front of me.
The nearest square from the Suryavinayak entrance is the Dattatraya Square.
Life is sweet. Morning walk at the Dattatraya Square on their way to school, I assume.
I don’t know what this doll means, but I’ve also seen something like this at the Kathmandu Durbar Square
I just kept walking from the Dattatraya Square with no knowledge of where I’m heading next, even as I have a map, which goes together with my entrance ticket. I was so in awe of the visual treats as I allow this ancient city to reveal itself to me.
En route to what I would later learn as the Taumadhi Square (I read my brochure for the first time as I was writing this), I came across a lot of interesting subjects. There is no shortage of interesting people and things here. After every few step, I guess every visitor will find something that would represent richness in culture, heritage, art and architecture. That said, every photography enthusiast will find themselves “shutter-happy”, ready to fire the shutter at the least stimulation.
Red tikka powder used to mark a dot on the foreheads of Hindus as a religious tradition, and some items for burning as offering to the gods
Handcrafted string puppets
The Nyatapola Temple, a 5-storey temple, dominates the Taumadhi Square. I walked up the steps to the top of the temple’s platform to get a view of the entire square.
The Nyatapola temple
Views from the top of the Nyatapola’s platform
Bhaktapur is well known for handicrafts
I was still at the Taumadhi Square when it suddenly rained. I took refuge at the nearby Café Nyatapola. My stomach doesn’t agree yet to have lunch, but after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting inside the café without ordering, hoping that the rain would stop soon, my stomach and I agreed that we’re having lunch now, untimely though it may be.
As I finished my lunch, the rain turned into a slight drizzle, enough for me to continue my sightseeing. On my way to the Pottery Square, a 12-year old girl walked by my side and asked me the usual where-are-you-from-oh-you look-like-a-nepali intro. After a few friendly exchanges, she started asking me to buy her a book that she needed for school. She even pointed out where the bookstore is. As a first time solo traveler, I really did a lot of readings about scams to avoid when in Nepal. Though this is not on the list, I had a negative feeling about it, and refused as polite as I can, then said goodbye to the little girl, as a way of saying “Please don’t follow me again.”
Moving on to the Pottery Square, here are a few pictures showcasing the tradition. I was reminded of the pottery workshops in Vigan, Ilocos, where large furnaces fueled by wood are similarly used to dry the formed clay.
Last stop in Bhaktapur is the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the main square in the city. Before, I thought that the Bhaktapur Durbar Square represents the entire complex, but found out that it’s just one part of complex, along with Dattatraya, Taumadhi and Pottery Squares. “Bhaktapur Durbar square is a conglomeration of stone art, metal art, wood carving, terracotta art and architectural showpieces”, says the brochure. Nothing more to say but, “Agree”.
I’ve only spent half of my Day 1 in Nepal and my eyes are already feasting way above the satisfactory scale. What I admire in this city is that the people maintain their culture and lifestyle of centuries back, and did not let tourism influence their culture in a negative way. The display of culture is authentic and not a “just for the show” thing to cater to tourists. Now I understand why Bhaktapur is called the “Living Heritage” or the “Living Museum”.
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The strong earthquake that shook and caused grief and damage in Kathmandu happened a year after I traveled to Nepal. Hence, this and my other upcoming posts about Nepal are pre-2015 earthquake time. Let us continue praying for Nepal's recovery.