The sights, the sounds, the smells, the laughter all came tumbling out when I re-discovered the photos I took in Nepal in 2005.
This was my first visit to the country of birth of Lord Buddha. Though I didn’t get to Lumbini, I kept thinking this is the country, this is the earth that he walked on. Not having traveled much in the subcontinent, everything was spectacular. I had only a hand me down camera but it was great fun trying to capture the mood of what I saw.
The evening shadows were getting longer when we got to the Buddhist Newars temple of Swayambhunath, with the giant eyes painted on the Stupa. It is one of the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
It was street life at its most interesting.
Bhaktapur, the ancient Newar city — a World Heritage site seemed frozen in time. On that bright sunny morning everyone was out basking in the sun. There was a labyrinth of narrow alleys linking houses, courtyards where it was common to see groups of people giving each other oil massages, pounding rice in open courtyards, or just sitting there in the sun.
Some were busy at work but this was a slow period for tourism due to various factors.
Batsala Temple is a stone temple dedicated to Batsala Devi and has many intricate carvings. It is most famous for its bronze bell, known to local residents as “the bell-of barking dogs,” so called as when it is rung, dogs in the vicinity begin barking and howling. The colossal bell was hung by King Ranjit Malla in 1737 A.D. and was used to sound the daily curfew. It is nowadays rung every morning when goddess Taleju is worshiped.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an impressive conglomeration of pagoda and and is one of the most interesting architectural showpieces of the valley highlighting the grandeur of the ancient arts of Nepal.
And the Pièce de résistance of the visit — the unforgettable flight over the majestic Himalayan mountains.
Acknowledgement: Thanks for this visit to Nepal go to my former manager Dale Lautenbach and Country Director Peter Harrold, who thought a short spell of work at the Nepal World Bank office would be a welcome change for me after the traumatic tsunami of 2004. In Nepal these visits would not have been possible without the support of Rajib Upadhya, Sunita Gurung and Reena Shrestha of the World Bank in Nepal and Jim Rosenberg of World Bank DC.