March 2004, and the end of our first trip to South Asia. We had started in Delhi, travelled around the Golden Triangle, been on a sleeper train, sailed down the Ganga to Varanasi, explored Chitwan National Park and finally arrived in legendary Kathmandu.
First on our itinerary was a visit to Mt Everest/Sagarmāthā. Not by trekking but by taking a small plane along the Himalayas to view the mountain. Whilst these flights don’t have the best of safety records we would still highly recommended the experience. Neither of us expected to be quite so moved by simply looking out of the cockpit but we were. The pictures below completely fail to convey the awe and amazement we felt at the sight.
The centre of Kathmandu was a mix of historic buildings and a warren of shops, both local and tourist. In the main tourist area of Thamel was a genuine North Face shop and thousands selling counterfeits. It took seconds to be offered illegal drugs, all of which we were assured were ‘legal here’. Digital cameras were still seen as novel and we had great fun with the local children taking and showing pictures. Things have moved on, and Thamel has now been declared a full Wi-fi zone.
The Pashupatinth Temple is regarded as the most sacred among the temples of Lord Shiva but not being Hindu we could only view it from the other side of the Bagmati river. We are reliably informed that the inside is, however, gorgeous. It was near to here that we bought the ‘good quality’ bootleg CD of the trance version of Om Mani Padma Hum that was playing in every shop and restaurant in the city.
In addition to Kathmandu the valley contains two sister cities: Patan 5km to the south and Bhaktapur 12km to the east. We made short visits to them both. In Bhaktapur we came across a film being shot. We took pictures but did not get any details so if anyone can identify the actor below please let us know.
Staying in Kathmandu
We stayed at the Shanker Hotel, just to the north east of the centre which was lovely, in a shabby-chic way, with dark carved wood in the rooms and happy, helpful staff. Since we were there it has clearly been renovated, as you can see on its website, where you now have “a chance to live like royalty at a price you cannot beat”.
Remembrance of Kathmandu
We have been slowly recording our 2004 Delhi to Kathmandu trip:
- We have written about Jaipur with further pictures here.
- We have written about Varanasi (Benares) with further pictures here.
- There are also pictures from Chitwan, Nepal.
— words by Paul
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth