What is the strangest museum in Nepal

Nepal 2014 travel diary of my backpack tour

October 16, 2011 My first impression of Kathmandu

Namasté, welcome to Nepal! After a long journey via Qatar, I arrive in Kathmandu this morning. The curiosity about the city is great and I take a cycle rickshaw to the center of the old town, to Durbar Square.

This square is one of the main attractions of the city. Here is the old royal palace and in the area numerous temples and pagodas. Still exhausted from the journey, I sit down on the steps of a temple. I have a nice overview of the hustle and bustle on the city streets. Small Suzuki taxis, mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians, including countless load carriers, push their way through the alleys in the center of the city.

I set off and wander through the neighboring districts of the city. But this is not a relaxed walk. The many people on the streets and the constant honking of motorcycles and cars make me restless. In some side streets it is a bit quieter and I enjoy the first impressions of Nepal.

October 17, 2011 Day trip to Patan

I'm sitting in one of the roof garden restaurants and have a wonderful view of Durbar Square in the former royal city of Patan. Today the city connects seamlessly to Kathmandu, is quieter and much more relaxed.

A tourist pays the equivalent of around 2 euros to visit the historic core of the city. My travel literature gives tips on how to get to the center on small side streets without paying. I find such savings tips in reputable travel guides extremely inappropriate. A visit to this ancient site in a developing country (Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia) should be worth the entrance fee to a European who flies halfway around the world to get to Nepal. Especially since the money will be used to maintain the old buildings.

 

In addition to the many Hindu sites, there is the old royal palace and the newly renovated Patan Museum, which gives interesting insights into the culture and religion of the Nepalese people. Particularly worth seeing in Patan are the “Golden Temple” and the “Northern Stupa”, the northern end of the old town.

 

While walking through the alleys of Patan I come to a market square. Tourists rarely get lost here. The sometimes furtive looks of the sellers and customers almost give me the feeling that this is the first time they are seeing a non-Nepalese.

 

October 18, 2011 The large stupa of Bodnath

The large stupa of Bodnath is about 5 km from Kathmandu and is one of the largest structures of its kind. I already photographed the stupa from the plane when I arrived two days ago. The eyes of Buddha, which shine from the four sides of the tower, attract me magically. My taxi driver says I should take around 45 minutes here. After half an hour I barely circled a quarter of the stupa.

 

In addition to tourists, there are also many pilgrims from all over the Himalayan region. While walking around the stupa, they turn the many small prayer wheels that can be found in all Buddhist sites in Nepal.

 

The large stupa of Bodnath has been the central pilgrimage site of all Tibetans in exile in Nepal since 1959. I sit in a roof garden restaurant and watch the goings-on from above, completely forgetting about my waiting taxi driver.

 

October 18, 2011 The Pashupatinath cremation site

Pashupatinath is one of the most important temple sites for the Hindus. The cremation sites are located on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. It is particularly desirable for believers to be burned here after death.

 

On arrival you can see smoke rising from afar; fine ash flies through the air. On the other bank I watch the funeral rituals. There are several burn sites here. A corpse is being lifted onto a kind of pyre. In addition, relatives set fire to a pile of wood with the deceased; the bare feet of the dead stick out. A piece of the ashes are swept into the river with a broom.

 

At first I feel quite uncomfortable in my stomach. Dealing with death is very different here than in the Christian world. The dead do not go up to heaven either, but are reborn on earth. In order to understand these rituals correctly, one would have to study more closely Hinduism. Interest in it has been aroused, and on my next trip to Asia I will read up on it accordingly.

October 19, 2011 The Swayambhunath stupa

Early in the morning I visit the Swayambhunath stupa, about 2 km west of Kathmandu city center. My taxi driver fights his way through the bustle of the streets, the sound of the horn is deafening.

 

I climb 365 steps to the famous landmark of the city. I am accompanied by countless monkeys, which is why this site is also called the monkey temple. The sacred stupa glows in the morning light. Here, too, the Buddha's eyes shine from all sides of the harmika, the reliquary on the stupa.

 

October 19, 2011 The idyllic city of Kirtipur

My next destination is the idyllic city of Kirtipur, also just a few kilometers from the capital of Nepal. The old town is closed to cars and motorbikes rarely drive through the alleys. The city forms a strong contrast to the lively Kathmandu. Kirtipur is a sleepy town.

 

Rice is dried in the large squares in the village; in the narrow streets women wash their clothes and old men sit and gossip in every corner of the city. Time almost seems to stand still. In addition to the entire cityscape, the Uma Mahesvara Temple and the Chilandya Stupa are particularly worth seeing.

 

October 20, 2011 in Chitwan National Park

Getting to Chitwan National Park: 30 minutes by taxi to the airport, 25 minutes by flight with Buddha Air, 45 minutes by small taxi, 15 minutes by jeep through rice fields, 30 seconds by canoe across the river, 10 minutes by one another jeep. Finally arrived in Chitwan National Park!

 

I will spend the next three nights at the Chitwan Jungle Lodge. There is a precise program for all guests throughout their stay. I start with a canoe trip through the beautiful landscape of southern Nepal. It goes over a couple of rapids and my pants are already wet through and through. Good thing I left my passport and wallet at the lodge.

 

The canoe trip goes downriver for around 20 minutes. Since there are only a few roads in the park, the way back to the lodge has to be walked. The boat trip turns into a “jungle walk” through tall grass and a piece of forest towards the lodge. We encounter elephants mounted by park rangers who roam the Chitwan National Park. In 1962 this area was declared a rhinoceros sanctuary. In addition to 400 Indian rhinos, around 100 tigers, 50 wild elephants and another 56 species of mammals such as lip bears, red deer and leopards are said to live in this reserve.

 

The national park is also an important bird sanctuary and home to over 150 species of butterflies, sometimes of considerable sizes. In my evening shower, I discover another species of animal. A huge spider with a wingspan of 12-15 cm lives in my bathroom. The windows and doors in the bathroom are well sealed, my roommate will probably not be able to escape tonight. I make sure again that the bathroom door is closed. A giant spider in the bathroom is better than one in bed, I guess. The nocturnal sounds of the jungle lull me to sleep.

 

October 21, 2011 On the back of an elephant through the Chitwan National Park

This morning an elephant ride is announced. The four of us take a seat in a small basket strapped to the elephant's back. The elephant leader sits on the front of the neck. We swing into the forest. Asian elephants have been used as pack animals and mounts for thousands of years. Here at the lodge, they serve as a means of transport for national park visitors from all over the world. The ride should take two hours, and my back hurts after just 10 minutes.

 

My elephant stops at difficult places, such as through small ditches. The guide then hits a sore spot on the head of the animal with full force until the elephant continues on its way. I flinch at every stroke and feel guilty about the animal. He's only getting the beating so that I can be led through the jungle.

 

In the (futile) search for wild animals, we roam meter-high grass until we return to the lodge after two hours. My back hurts, and the elephant's probably too. When I get off, I decide not to use an elephant as a means of transport in the future.

October 21, 2011 Water hole in Chitwan National Park

Not far from my lodge there is a large watering hole with a viewing platform. It's wonderful to just sit here and watch the animals. Apart from a few birds, a crocodile and deer, I don't see much, it's a nature reserve and not a zoo.

 

The setting is unique, this calm a strong contrast to the hustle and bustle and the noise of Kathmandu. The guide and the other guests return to the lodge. I persuade the guide to stay here and then return to the lodge alone. I want to enjoy this rest all to myself.

 

After half an hour I suddenly see long grass and bushes in motion. An Indian rhinoceros slowly approaches the water. The long wait was worth it. In slow motion, the prehistoric animal eats tufts of grass and now and then looks over the small lake in my direction. While Indian rhinos were almost extinct due to poaching in Nepal, there are now around 400 in the Chitwan National Park. I watch the animal for over an hour until it finally gets into the water and takes a bath. It repeatedly blows water through the nostrils, which then rises like fountains.

I return to the lodge with unforgettable impressions and discover that my "lodger" has disappeared from the bathroom. The cleaning staff left the bathroom door open. Where has the spider gone? Today I go to bed a little relaxed.

October 22, 2011 My last day in Chitwan National Park

Today I am taking part in a jungle hike and a jeep tour with other guests of the lodge. In addition to various types of birds, we see a wild boar, red deer and a leopard for seconds or even fractions of a second. However, none of the guests manage to take a photo of the big cat, it disappears so quickly into the thicket.

 

For a long time I observe a tame mongoose that belongs to the lodge as a pet. The animal is playing with a small snake. For the "Golden Striped Flying Snake" it is a struggle for survival. In the end, the mongoose wins and eats the snake. The animal, which is used to humans, also has a strange friendship with the lodge's house cat.

 

“Elephant bathing” is my last item on the program during my stay in the national park. I walk to the river, where elephant guides wash their animals with a lot of love. A hotel guest would like to help with the body care of the elephant, but in the end the guest himself is washed ...

 

With a harmonious sunset I let the last day in the Chitwan National Park end.

October 23, 2011 By bus to Pokhara

Wake-up call in the camp at 7 a.m., pack your rucksack, have breakfast, at 8 a.m. you leave the lodge for the bus terminal in Tandi (approx. One hour's drive, including canoe crossing and vehicle change). At 8:30 a.m., the English couple, who are also leaving the lodge, are finally ready. I will probably no longer be able to catch the tourist express bus to Pokhara at 9 a.m. The English don't care, they have ordered a private taxi for the onward journey. My bus is actually already gone, the next express bus doesn't leave until tomorrow.

 

My schedule in Nepal is pretty tight, so I choose a bus. My backpack is strapped to the roof; the inside of the bus completely full. The driver gives me a seat in the last row of seats. I have 20 cm of seat available, and the person sitting next to me sits on my left leg. At least there are no chickens on the bus, like on my last bus trip in Laos.

 

The passing landscape is beautiful: valleys, rivers, waterfalls; everywhere lush green forests and rice terraces. In the background, the white tips of the Himalayan chain flash out again and again. On the way I pass through small, very busy towns and villages. The impressions make me forget the inconveniences and after a five hour bus ride I reach the city of Pokhara.

 

October 24, 2011 Pokhara: Vacation at Lake Fewa

I am sitting on the shores of Lake Fewa in Pokhara and look out over the lake. Green hills rise in the background and in some places I can see glacier-covered peaks of the Annapurna massif.

 

I have a rowboat transfer me to a small island. Here is the Hindu shrine “Tal Barahi”, an important and popular place of pilgrimage for many Nepalese people. Pokhara is one of the most important tourist destinations in Nepal.

 

In addition to its wonderful location, the place is also the starting point for many trekking tours. Outdoor sports lovers get their money's worth here. Paragliding, kayaking, rafting and mountain biking are all available. I prefer to enjoy the peace and quiet by the lake and recover from the first week of my trip to Nepal.

 

25.10.2011 Sightseeing flight over the Annapurna massif

In the city of Pokhara you can see the peaks of the Annapurna massif towering over the range of hills by the lake. Otherwise, the landscape at the lake is reminiscent of the Salzkammergut.

 

I inform myself about a sightseeing flight over this area. There are countless travel agencies in Pokhara that sell trekking tours, flights and bus tickets. The first two providers I visited assure me that there is a “Mountain Flight” only from Kathmandu. I'm luckier in the third office, and the friendly gentleman tells me that Buddha Air only resumed flights yesterday. I immediately book a ticket for a 30-minute sightseeing flight, which is way too short for me.

 

The mighty mountain peaks tower far above the cloud cover. We're flying at around 5500 meters above sea level and I look up at the peaks, what a view! For me it is hard to imagine that mountaineers dare to venture into these heights, the impressions of such a mountain tour must be indescribable.

 

October 26, 2011 Hike to the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara

I start again early in the morning, borrow a boat and paddle to the other side of the lake. The climb to the World Peace Pagoda is steep. I meet locals who carry heavy loads up their backs and only wear open sandals. I feel a little strange with my mountain boots.

 

At the top I have a magnificent view of the lake and the Himalaya mountains behind. It's a bit hazy and clouds are already hiding parts of the glacier mountains.

 

Returning to the lakeshore, I paddle comfortably around the lake. After a rain shower in the afternoon, the air is clear and the mountains seem close enough to touch.

October 27, 2011 New Year celebrations in Bhaktapur

Today is October 27th and I am going to Bhaktapur on a special day; New Years Day. In the city, which is 15 km east of Kathmandu, many people live from the Newar people.

Children run excitedly through the streets asking for offerings at the shops with singing. A mixture of Halloween and the singing of the Three Kings. Pickups loaded with people drive through the streets. Music booms from the speakers. There is a loud honking of the party.

The festival of lights lasts five days, during which all houses are lit up with candles, oil lamps or electric fairy lights. Today is the 4th day of the festival, the day of the Newar New Year and the streets are full of people. The Newar celebrate New Year three times a year: the Nepalese New Year in April, the New Year on January 1st according to the international calendar, and the Newarian New Year on the fourth day of the Festival of Lights.

 

28.10.2011 Medieval flair in the old town of Bhaktapur

My guest house is located in the center of the old royal city of Bhaktapur, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are three large squares in the city with temples and religious places of worship.

 

I walk through the many narrow streets of Bhaktapur. Wherever there is free space, rice is dried on the squares. I sit down and watch the women shovel around grain by grain, so that the sun reaches every grain of rice.

 

The city exudes medieval flair. Women fetch the water they need from public wells. Some are drawn with buckets, some wells have electric pumps. Fetching water is usually combined with personal hygiene, only very few have running water at home.

 

For me, Bhaktapur is a "pearl" in Nepal. Quiet, sleepy, friendly, also very clean and well-kept. In the afternoon I sit down in a café that is housed in a former temple. From up here I have an exciting view over a market square, where mainly fruit and vegetables are for sale.

 

October 29, 2011 Excursion to the area around Bhaktapur

For today I have ordered a taxi for a tour around Bhaktapur. At dawn I drive to the town of Dhulikel.There is a procession going on when I arrive. A line of people moves through the main street of the city. All of them solemnly carry tin trays with rice, fruit and other groceries in front of them. I'm thinking of offerings, or is it some kind of Thanksgiving Day? My question in this regard remains unanswered. Either the respondents don't speak English, or I get the mere answer "a party", without any more precise definition.

 

The journey continues to Panauti. The old town is idyllically situated between two streams. The center is decorated with apartments of large families, temples and many meeting places. The local pagoda dates from the 13th century and is therefore probably the oldest in Nepal.

 

Next stop is the temple complex of Changu Narayan, one of the most magnificent in the Kathmandu Valley. It is beautifully located on a ridge north of Bhaktapur. The metalwork and the artistically carved and painted roof struts are particularly beautiful.

 

October 30, 2011 Museum visits in Bhaktapur

I'm not particularly tall, my height is that of an average European, but in the past two weeks I've bumped my head several times. The inhabitants of Nepal are much smaller and when I walk through the streets I look over everyone's head. It is therefore understandable that the door frames and ceilings are correspondingly lower.

 

At the entrance to the Bhaktapur Bronze Museum, I almost hit my head again. I have to crouch down to visit the entire museum. There isn't much for me to see here either, at least not during my visit. Once again the power went out, which happens almost every day in the city. In the dark rooms there is not much to see, I can only light up the room with the flash from the camera.

 

Next I visit the wood carving museum. Wood carvings adorn most of the houses in the city. Windows and balconies are carved with great effort and with great attention to detail. The museum does not show any special features. Almost all houses in the city center are worthy of a museum.

 

October 30, 2011 City walk through Bhaktapur

The last hours of my Nepal trip I walk through the streets of Bhaktapur again and let the people and the life in the city affect me.

  
 

Factual information was taken from the following travel guides:
- Stefan Loose Travel Handbooks Nepal, DUMONT travel publisher
- Nepal Kathmandu Valley, Reise Know-How Verlag
- MARCO POLO travel guide Nepal
- Lonely Planet Nepal

Namasté!