Kathmandu 23rd January 2016
I had a free day today and decided to visit some of the areas quite badly affected by the earthquake some 9 months earlier.
As a photographer and travel writer I’m most interested in capturing the little things, the people and the experience of wherever I am.
We started the day with a visit to the Kathesimbu Stupa. Located right near the heart of Thamel this stupa is the most wonderful hidden gem in the area. Virtually untouched by the earthquake it stands strongly nestled in a small square in the heart of the old city. A visit inside the monastery allowed us to glimpse the monks performing their daily prayers and to light a butter lamp for our friends that need our prayers.
Not far from the stupa I was introduced to the Muslim sellers of jewellery. Local Hindu custom has women (particularly Newari women) wearing colourful jewellery. I was shown a mini district filled with jewellery makers and sellers of these colourful ornaments. Interestingly they are all Muslims.
Next we happened across a festival in the street, having been told that it was some sort of tantric festival to promote peace I later found out that it was the 12th Year Bhada Kali Khadka, Siddhi Jatara Makham, in any case the colourful costumes and dancing was mesmerising.
From there it was on to the Kathmandu Durbar Square. I had not been here since not long after the earthquake and this precinct was very badly damaged at that time with some of the temples having collapsed and yet others suffering quite bad damage. I noticed that the area had been completely cleaned up and while many of the temple buildings have support timbers to prop them up safely the area is very safe for visitors. Some of the attractions have no signs of damage while yet others are very badly damaged. In amongst this however is the day to day life of the people which goes on as usual. In fact I found just as much to see and photography as I did on my first visit to Nepal in 2013. So from the perspective of the tourist I think there is still just as much to see and experience as there was prior to the earthquake. It has lost none of it’s vibrancy, colour, life and attraction.
I continued my walk through the old city, noting that so many new buildings were under construction and some were still being demolished. We stopped to have a wonderful traditional Newari lunch in one of the small local eateries before heading back to Thamel via the Dharara Tower ruin. The Dharara tower was one of the iconic images of the earthquake following it’s collapse. I found the area safe and the ruin of the tower did make for an interesting perspective to my photo’s.
After this I had a lovely feed of corn cooked on a fire by the side of the road. One of my favourites during the summer time I was impressed at how delicious it tasted. Heading back to Thamel I reflected on my wonderful morning and thought about how much there is to see and do around the old city of Kathmandu despite the earthquake.