At the foot of the huge peaks of the Himalayas is Pokhara and it is from here that we begin our journey through Nepal. In the past, Pokhara was an important trading link between India and Tibet but the trading of salt and wool came to an end after Tibet closed its doors to the outside world.
Kathmandu is a melting pot of both race and religion, a metropolis in the heart of the Kingdom of Nepal, a country of snow-covered mountains inhabited by the gods. Kumari Chowk is the residence of the living goddess, Kumari, who is duly selected from childhood. She is not allowed to leave until puberty, as her task is to affirm the king his power. Traditional ceremonies are celebrated throughout the year, such as the Festival of the Children which is a symbol of fertility and sexual purity.
Patan is Nepal’s second largest city and has retained much of its original character due to its 300 monasteries and temples. It is also one of the oldest settlements in Kathmandu Valley and during the 15th century, was the capital of one of three kingdoms.
Bhaktapur is the third ancient regal city, of the thirty kilometre long Kathmandu Valley, that has always been a prosperous trading route between China, Tibet and India. Through the Golden Gate of Sundhoka is the Old Royal Palace complex. The Torana above the gate is richly gilded and features the ten-armed goddess, Taleju, and her loyal guards.
Located on a 1400 metre high hill, Swayambunath is a Buddhist monastery complex and one of the most interesting sights in Nepal. The country’s oldest stupa dates back to the 5th century and is entered from an easterly direction, up a staircase that contains 365 steps. Endless rows of prayer mills and religious images are the instruments of the people’s deep faith.
Hidden in a canyon and located on top of a mountain creek, Dakshinkali stands guard over the valley. This wonderful place is dedicated to the bloody goddess, Kali.
The customs of the people in the ‘Kingdom on the Roof of the World’ may seem somewhat strange. But this land of jungle and eternal snow has developed according to its own rich traditions and beliefs. Like magic!