Had an extraordinary day touring 4 Kathmandu UNESCO World Heritage sites with a guide. They include Durbar Square, The Monkey Temple, Bauddhanath, and Pashupatinath with its Crematorium. All are sacred to Hindus and/or Buddhists and have numerous small and large temples on the grounds. Some date as far back as the 12th Century. Sadly, the earthquake of 2015 badly damaged many of them, and some are still in the process of being rebuilt, helpfully supported by a number of nations, including the USA. The carvings and symbols are exquisite and places of peace and hope for the potential of humankind to do good and overcome evil. Certainly our world could use more of that right now.
Animals roam free here (actually all over the city and country) with pigeons and monkeys especially prevalent. Cows are for sure the most sacred and seem to be completely oblivious to crazy traffic, wandering where they please. Woe is the one who hits a cow with their car!
The crematorium was probably one of the most unique cultural experience I’ve ever had, and certainly a window into Hinduism and Buddhism. It is located on a sacred river for Nepalese that flows into the Ganges. All along the banks on the grounds are brick funeral pyre platforms where families bring their dead. First they wash the freshly dead body (brought to the site within a few hours of death) with the river water, drape it with colorful cloth, carry it to a prepared burn site, place it on the wood pile, drape it with straw, and then set it alight. When we were there we observed two bodies being prepared and probably 10 funeral pyres burning. When the fire burns out, the ashes are swept into the river and washed away. One truly has a humbling perspective on the circle of life seeing this important ritual for Hindu and Buddhist people.
This evening we had dinner with our guide at a traditional Nepalese restaurant. The food was delicious with a variety of vegetable and meat (chicken and fish, no beef) and dancers to boot performing traditional dances. Returned to the hotel to finish repacking and still working on losing a few pounds here and there. So hard to decide what to leave behind and don’t want to short pharmaceuticals in case they are needed! Praying all will be ok tomorrow even if slightly over weight limit for gear. Departure from hotel at 7am.
Good night friends and talk to you tomorrow evening on the adventure of landing at Lukla and the first leg of the climb that afternoon.
PS- Pics from today posted to photos link on blog. Anticipate pics each time I write on the blog (assuming connectivity and band width enables when I am able to post).