Into The Mountains
Business Traveler|November 2019
With its endearing culture, fascinating architecture and scenic nature, Kathmandu is a constant surprise
Akanksha Maker
An obvious place to start your visit to Kathmandu, Thamel is the city’s central point. A number of tiny lanes and alleys make up this area that’s best explored in a rickshaw. From pashmina shawls, antique jewelry, Buddhist souvenirs, Nepalese curios and artifacts, there’s little you can’t find in Thamel’s vibrant shops. Hone your haggling skills here since you’ll find tourists are quoted exorbitant prices.

If you’re interested in Nepalese cuisine, visit one of the traditional momo houses. Momo, a type of South Asian dumpling native to Nepal, are dim sum-like pockets filled with meat – mostly pork – dipped in a red chili sauce. The smell of fresh dumplings, the sounds of chants and softNepalese music and Buddhist flags swaying against the sky – that is what an evening in Thamel is made of.

While the youthful crowd epitomizes the face of contemporary Nepal, this area is also one of the oldest parts of the city. A short walk will bring you to Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with spectacular Newa architecture typical to the region.

Durbar Square is prominent in Nepal’s history with its palaces of the Malla and Shah kings who once ruled over the city. Despite the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in April 2015, a number of ancient temples still stand tall around the square, with their pagoda type roofs and elaborately carved windows.

Durbar Square also houses the residence of Kumari – the country’s “living goddess” based on the tradition of worshipping a prepubescent girl who symbolizes sacred female energy. As soon as she hits puberty, she is replaced by another prepubescent girl.

Called Kumari Ghar (residence), her home overlooks the south side of Durbar Square. Tourists and patrons can enter the courtyard of the house where the “living goddess” occasionally makes an appearance on one of the first-floor windows. It is believed that her facial expressions depict the answers to the questions asked by her devotees. If she has no extreme reaction during her appearance, her devotees usually leave relieved as it implies good fortune.

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