Bhaktapur Municipality, Saturday morning, 10/17/15
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is in the plaza in front of the royal palace of old Bhaktapur Kingdom, and it's one of three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, all of which are listed as UNSECO World Heritage sites. This highly-visited square is noted for its rich culture and temples, its wood, metal and stone artwork, and is what most of us saw on television after the April 2015 earthquake, showing damaged and destroyed temples. The main temple in Bhaktapur's square lost its roof, while the Vatsala Devi temple, famous for its sandstone walls and gold-topped pagodas, was demolished. Despite the earthquake damage, the square continues to be awe-inspiring.
Bhaktapur is fulled with Hindu and Buddhist religious sites and art, although the population is primarily Hindu.
The Vatsala Temple toppled in the earthquake (above and below).
Above is the World-famous Golden Gate of Bhaktapur, with a guard in the doorway. (Enlarge this picture if you can to see all the details. Below is a closeup of the gate top). Artifacts, antiques, and relics (is that redundant?) from Vatsala's temple were being kept behind this gate. We were allowed to peek in to see what they'd salvaged.
One statue that had been salvaged.
Nepal and Bhutan were not shy about phallic symbols!
Bricks were neatly stacked. Women workers cleaned off the mud first.
Marigold garlands were given to each of us as we entered Kathmandu. Our group of 11 travelers was a fun-loving, caring team. Here Irwin is trying to "sell" his garland to this lady "vendor" who kept pestering him about buying beads (turnabout is fair play?). She was highly amused ... and followed Irwin around till we left the square.
Nyatapola Temple, built in 1702, is the tallest in the Kathmandu Valley and stands nearly 100 ft high. It is so well designed that it withstood 1934's powerful 8.3 earthquake as well as the latest 2015 earthquake. Nyatapola means "five-story temple" in the Newari language. On the first level is a pair of likenesses of Rajput warriors Jaimal and Phatta, famous 16th century defenders of the Chittor fort. Next, two elephants followed by two lions, two griffins, and finally "Baghini" and "Singhini," the tiger and lion goddesses. The image of Siddhi Lakshmi is locked within the temple and only the priests are allowed to enter to worship her.
Me and Jimmy posing with Phatta statue in front of Nyatapola. One notable about Road Scholar: They don't waste time ... you are whisked off the plane and transported to a temple or a palace or a Durbar Square before going to your hotel. Here we are in our airplane travel clothes (as in, warm sweat pants for me). Only after sight-seeing and lunch do we see our hotel or resort room.
Bob and Mary taking a break.
After gawking at what was left and lamenting what had been destroyed, taking a multitude of photos, and walking our little legs off, it was lunchtime at the Hotel Heritage, and it was good, beginning with the mushroom soup.
Still wearing my marigold garland.
Not sure what all this is, but ...
... I know this was apple pie!
After lunch, the bus took us out of the city into the country on a beautiful winding drive (approx 20-mile) to our Dhulikhel Mountain Resort where we'll spend the next two nights. Dhulikhel was once a main trading hub between Kathmandu, Tibet, and India. Historically, Dhulikhel is a Newar settlement, one of major ethnic tribes in the Kathmandu Valley. More on that tomorrow.