The Proud Peacock

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The Proud Peacock

It is said that at the time of creation of the universe, when the primordial poison was churned out of the Sea of Milk and transmuted into the amrita of immortality, it was a peacock that absorbed the negative effects. Thus the bird is thought of as a protector, though its flesh is consequently considered by some to be poisonous.
Nepal, 16 Jan 2010.
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Colours of Nepal

The sights, the sounds, the smells, the laughter all came tumbling out when I re-discovered  the photos I took in Nepal in 2005.

The young and the not so young,  seated in the sun. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The young and the not so young, seated in the sun. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

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.

Swayambhunath Temple with the eyes painted on the stupa.  5 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Swayambhunath Temple with the eyes painted on the stupa. 5 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Children at a Nepal Temple. 5 March 2005.Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Children at the Swayambhunath Temple complex. 5 March 2005.Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Multi-coloured flags fluttered, white robed holy men walked the streets. ... Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Multi-coloured flags fluttered, white robed holy men walked the streets. … Photograph©Chulie de Silva

It was street life at its most interesting.

A snooze to recharge the batteries using solar power. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

A snooze to recharge the batteries using solar power. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

 Bead necklace Seller. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Bead necklace maker and vendor sits in front of a beautifully carved door. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

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.

The labyrinth of interconnected passgages in Bhaktapur. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The labyrinth of interconnected passgages in Bhaktapur. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Morning chat in the sun. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Morning chat in the sun.
Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Some were busy at work but this was a slow period for tourism due to various factors.

The potter at work. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The potter at work. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The natural kiln. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The natural kiln. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

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.

Stone Temple of Batsala. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Stone Temple of Batsala. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

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.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

he grandeur of the ancient Nepalese art. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The grandeur of the ancient Nepalese art. Bhaktapur, Nepal. 6 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

And the Pièce de résistance of the visit — the unforgettable flight over the majestic Himalayan mountains.

The majestic Himalayan mountains . Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The legendary Himalayan mountains . Photograph©Chulie de Silva

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.

Photo Memories of Nepal

I was certainly Click happy in Kathmandu Nepal. Cool, cool mornings, beautiful light and such colour — dazzling at times, soft and gentle at other times

The peacock in Gokarna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

The peacock in Gokarna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Not sure what the ritual was here -- was it to redeem a vow? Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Not sure what the ritual was here — was it to redeem a vow? Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Nepal Muscian. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Nepal Muscian. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Flower sellers. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Flower sellers. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Photograph© Chulie de Silva.

Photograph© Chulie de Silva.

Rickshaw pullers Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Rickshaw pullers Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Sunset at Gokarna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Sunset at Gokarna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A Virtual Escape to Gokarna Forest

Today on World Environment Day, I needed an escape from all that is gruesome about our planet, and a few questions I am asking myself for which I don’t have any answers at the moment.  Today is a “hartal” day in Dhaka and streets had emptied but my escape was away from all this too, to a virtual haunt  of a forest against the backdrop of snow capped Himalayan mountains. The forest was  Gokarna, the forest that Shiva, the most popular god in Nepal escaped to – for my part I was lucky enough to have visited it last year.

Gokarna Forest Reserve, Nepal, January 2010. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

In the depths of forests like these Buddha would have roamed and practiced penance seeking Nirvana

The Gokarna Forest was the hunting grounds for Nepali Royals. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

Legend has it that God Shiva disguised himself as a one-horned golden deer, and went into hiding in Pashupatinath forest. While he spent his days “frolicking”, the world suffered.
Vishnu the preserver, Brahma the creator, and Indra the king of gods, started a search for the absconding God. It’s usually women who give secrets away, and so was it in this instance. Apparently it was a goddess who revealed Shiva’s disguise and when they finally caught the deer by the horn, it burst into fragments and there was Shiva in all his splendor. He asked the three Gods to establish his horn in their three worlds.

Vishnu installed his section in his celestial abode in Vaikuntha, Indra in his realm in heaven, and Brahma enshrined it at the sacred site of Gokarneshwor.

A little shrine in the midst of the Gokarna Forest. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

A little shrine in the midst of the Gokarna Forest. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

The forest was the private Royal hunting grounds of the Kings of Nepal and was known as Rajnikunj.  I can’t help but wonder whether the hunting got the Royalty into the bad books of the gods – specially if they were shooting deer.

Workers at the edge of the Golf Course and the entrance to the Gokarna Forest reserve. Photograph©Chulie De Silva

Little of the meeting I attended is on my mind now, but the setting sun streaking colour  across the sky will be with me for a long time.

Twilight over the Gokarna Forest Reserve, Nepal, January 2010. Photograph©Chulie De Silva