Nepal - Where Legends are Taken Seriously

Zola By Zola, 13th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/24eet_07/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>Nepal>Kathmandu & Around

A place where myths turn out to be facts, where sacred places dot the country and where towns look like live-in museums. Having mystical experiences is dead easy in a country like Nepal.

Myth or fact?

A visit to Nepal usually starts in the Kathmandu Valley, an area where the three main urban centres are found - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. According to a local legend, the Valley was once a sea. Until recently, this was not taken seriously and was considered to be one of the many local myths. But, when the geological deposits of the Valley were analyzed, the world was in for a big surprise - long time ago, the Kathmandu Valley was a bottom of a huge prehistoric lake.

The proof can be found in numerous marine fossils which are on sale in bigger bazaars. However, what's so fascinating about this is that the lake naturally and gradually seeped through the cracks of the surrounding mountains as long as ten thousand years ago, but the stories of its existence were somehow preserved in oral tradition. Which means that this area must have been populated from around 8000 BC - someone must have seen the lake while it was still there, and passed on the story.

The narrow, winding streets of Kathmandu look like a maze through which only those born there can navigate. People, dogs, cows and stalls line the busy streets, making traffic a nerve-racking experience. People eat, wash, pray and chat in full view of everyone. Yet, despite of what to many may look like total chaos, there pervades a sense of order. No beggars, no harassment of tourists, and certainly no crime.

Outside the noisy, crowded and polluted city, stretches the Kathmandu Valley. Rice is the staple diet in Nepal, and along the pot-holed roads, teeming with trucks, buses, children and domestic animals, women can be seen carrying loads of paddy seedlings. Above the rice paddies, houses are clustered on hillsides in cramped villages.

Arts and crafts

Bhaktapur, the City of Devotees, is probably the most historic and exotic of Nepalese cities, best known for its art, culture and festivals. As you walk through the narrow streets surrounded by tall brick houses, you pass tiny shops selling jewellery, pottery, bronze work, demon masks and other traditional crafts. Of all towns in Nepal, it looks most mediaeval and most amazing.

Don't miss a visit to the Potter's Square where potters can be seen moulding wet clay into different kinds of earthen ware. The freshly made pottery is then laid out to dry in the open square.

Walking through this city feels like a walk through a museum.

Little Tibet

Patan is one of the oldest Buddhist settlements in the world, and Tibet is very present here. Almost anywhere you go, you will see Tibetan monks, Tibetan refugees, shops selling Tibetan crafts, etc. A place definitely worth visiting in Patan is the Tibetan thangaka painting school. These traditional paintings of Buddhist icons and mandalas are painted on canvas or embroidered in silk, and ae probably the most original thing one can bring from Nepal.

Besides majestic Buddhist and Hindu temples, most of which are built in the pagoda style with beautifuly carved interiors, and many of which are protected by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, Nepal abounds in power spots.

These are places where supernatural forces are believed to reside and where people can make contact with spirits and gods. Praying or meditating in these locations enables one to gain spriritual guidance, as well as achieve purification and healing.

I read somewhere that Nepal is another time, another world. One can ony hope that the new govenment and the opening-up of the country will improve the lives of these kind and peaceful people, but that it will also manage to preserve the most precious thing about Nepal - its unique and phenomenal cultural heritage.

Tags

Bhaktapur, Fossil, Kathmandu, Legend, Myth, Nepal, Patan, Power Spot

Meet the author

author avatar Zola
Nature-lover, free-lance consultant, environmental activist.
I have many interests, which include travel, health, Eastern philosophies, astrology.

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Sep 2013 (#)

A friend of mine living in the US currently is a lawyer from Nepal. Last April, she invited me to the Nepalese New Year Festival. It was such a treat to see all the different traditions side by side.

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