Tag Archives: Kathmandu

Temples of Kathmandu

By now I am rather far away from Nepal, but I cannot resist writing two more posts about the Peaceful Kingdom. Well, Republic nowadays. This post is about the temples of Kathmandu. Their names have already been mentioned time and again in the posts about the magical Kathmandu itself as well as the stay in the orphanage. Many of my temple visits were with the kids from the orphanage.

Swayambhu was for sure our favourite temple. It is the temple that rises on the top of a hill to the West of Kathmandu, being the main temple of Newari Buddhism – the branch that historically developed in the Kathmandu valley. From up close it is difficult to make a photo that would take it all in. An attempt:

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An orphanage in Kathmandu

In Kathmandu I spent two weeks as a volunteer in an orphanage called Helpless Colony. It was long my desire to spend some time as a volunteer and finally I decided to put it into action. I found the Helpless Colony orphanage via an American organisation which specialises in linking the potential volunteers with relevant organisations all over the world.

I organised the volunteering placement while being quite far from Nepal – via internet from Australia and Thailand. The American organisation (it’s called Global Crossroad) sent me the coordinates of the orphanage. Its Nepali affiliate was supposed to pick me up from the hotel and to deliver me to the orphanage. As this is Nepal, and everything moves here on “Nepali time”, on the actual day the man from the organisation did not come to pick me up until around noon, and only after a series of phone calls from my side. We waited for his driver for about half an hour (he came by a motorcycle); then it turned out the driver cannot find the hotel; so as if it’s most normal we put my huge 20kg bag on the motorcycle between the two of us and off we went between the puddles of Kathmandu’s streets. Finally we found the driver; I moved to the minivan; the minibus took me to a hostel that belongs to the Nepali organisation (which is called RCDP Nepal); after an hour’s wait me and some other volunteers boarded a minibus; the minibus first took them to their destination – about 1h drive; then we went back to Kathmandu and finally we got to my orphanage, having visited yet another one on the way. The absurdity of this process only became apparent to me later as I learnt that it takes 30 minutes to get to the orphanage by public minibus.

As I entered the house, Nanu, the manager of the orphanage, greeted me on the stairs with a bow and a respectful “Namaste” holding her hands together. We sat together in one of the children’s rooms and as the children came back from school, each would approach me and ask me where I’m from and say “Glad to meet you!” with infectious laughter. I would ask their names and ages.

The orphanage:

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The city of 30 million gods

Kathmandu is a magical place. A teeming mass of people, events and strange coincidences, it occupies an elliptical valley, sprawling in every direction like in a giant cauldron.

On this photo we look West from the Basantapur tower in Hanuman Dhoka palace. We can see how the waves of the Kathmandu ocean rush to the surrounding mountains, submerging in the process the hill to the right. On this hill stands the temple of Swayambhu, the main temple of the Nepali buddhism, its name meaning “the Self-Arisen one”. Legend tells us that in the times immemorial the valley of Kathmandu had been a lake (this is confirmed by geology) and a lotus grew in the lake. Boddhisattva Majushri saw it in a dream, found it and went on to drain the lake and to turn the lotus into a hill, on top of which Swayambhu was built.

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