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Himalaya

Day 56: Kathmandu

Patan, Nepal 
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Slices of life in Durbar Square, Patan. Hindu temples side by side with pagodas (which the Newars introduced to China)
Michael Palin - HimalayaAs we wander through the colonnades of the Krishna Mandir, a stone-built Hindu temple topped with a shikhara, the characteristically Indian, curvilinear spire, we can look across to the Royal Palace, in a completely different style, refined by the Newari architect Arniko in the 14th century. It has powerful horizontals of brick and timber with deep, overhanging eaves, projecting balconies cantilevered out over finely carved, timber supports, and, inside, an elegantly proportioned chowk, or courtyard.

Kunda tells me that the Kathmandu Valley, once a lake, is rich in fertile, alluvial soil. The kingdoms, grown fat from consistently good harvests, ploughed their surpluses into religion, festivals and fine buildings, competing with each other for the tallest tower or the biggest bell.

'They used to say there were more temples in Kathmandu than houses and more gods than people.'

The buildings are not purely for show. A family arrives to do a puja at Krishna Mandir, unsettling a flock of pigeons, who create a sharp gust of wind as they take off, circle and descend en masse a few feet away.
Patan, Nepal 
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Slices of life in Durbar Square, Patan. A man does puja, a ritual offering to the gods at Krishna Mandir
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 56: Kathmandu
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Kathmandu
  • Book page no: 126

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