Saturday Nov 14th

Just to say that there are quite a few pictures on here – if they aren’t appearing in or after the text then try to click on media.

It has been a lovely day today. both weatherwise and in what we have seen and done. The temperature was around 24 – the warmest it’s been so far and very pleasant for sightseeing. We left at 10 am and went by minibus first crossing the main river where women were busy washing clothes to Patan – an old city which nowadays  is part of the Kathmandu Valley area, but was once a kingdom in its own right with its own king etc.  In the centre is the Durbar Square – which means palace square, with temples etc around it.  There is beautiful carving and stonework and a wonderful museum full of ancient manuscripts and carvings of alabaster, finely wrought jewellery and plated copper etc.  It is has been well preserved, largely by grants from other countries at various times and consequently looks much as it must have done back in the seventeenth century.

From Patan we drove out of  the main conurbation to Backhtapur – another former small, self contained kingdom three hundred years ago and now a busy market town which has changed little for a hundred years or so.  The ourney there was fascinating as today is the one dya of holiday in the week for the Nepalese and people were busy doing ‘weekend things’ . Saturday is clearly washday and we must have seen at least a dozen children up to the age of 12 or so sitting in their gardens in a tin bath having their weekly ablutions! Men were being shaved by the roadside and anyone and everyone was washing their hair in full view. 

Although the houses and streets are very run down in many ways it is full of character and you really felt you were seeing life as it has been lived there for centuries.  We walked up a very steep hill – with the Ana Purna range of mountains sparkling in the distance – to another durbar, even more beuatful than the last one.  We had not been there for many minutes when we were nobbled by a TV crew who wanted to know why we were on Nepal, what we were hoping to see etc etc.  We did a good plug for Samata Nikatan and they interviewed us for 5 minutes or so.  So we may well be on Nepalese TV tomorrow!!

There are three squares in Backhtapur, each one more fascinating than the previous one. One, known locally as pottery square, is the home of the local potters who are still firing their pots by digging pits and burying the  pots in straw and dust and the firing them for several days.  There were bamboo sheets covered in rice everywhere, which were being turned and dried out by the local people ready to be stored for various uses over the winter.  We have all decided that we want to come back here as there is so much to see and take in, so we will do that under our own steam one weekend. 

Our final port of call was the Boudha Stupa – the largest Buddhist temple in Nepal, which was very impressive.  Whilst there we visited a Thanka art school where they paint the most exquisite mandalas – a pictorial representation of the many layers of the Stupa which is all very symbolic and depicts the 13 stages leading to Karma. I succumbed to buying one of those as I had been involved in creating a sand Mandala in Aldbrugh with the Tibetan monks in August.  They are very beautiful and take about six weeks to paint.

All in all a lovely and memorable day. Tomorrow morning we are up early to go with one of the waiters to a Hindu festival at the monkey temple.  Till tomorrow.

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