Welcome to our Trek in Nepal

Sharing the Culture and Beauty of this Mystic Land - May 2007

- Click Here For Larger Image -Chorten at Bhoudinatha - May 29

This day was set aside for sightseeing and relaxing.

Gelu and Kike arrived at the Vaisali Hotel at 9:00. Kike would be our guide for one more day.

Again we bravely coursed our way through Kathmandu traffic to the Bhoudinatha Temple Complex. It boasts the largest Chorten in Nepal. A perimeter road circles the Chorten with shops lining the outside perimeter of the road. We circumnavigated the Chorten at ground level.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Goddess on White Elephant - May 29

After the first walk around the Chorten at street level, we entered the gate and climbed the stairs to the upper levels.

There were figures representing deities and small altars where incense and offerings were burned. The burning of offerings seemed like an ancient concept to me, but for the Budhists in Nepal, it is an important part of their daily beliefs.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Boudinatha Temple - May 29

Shops of all kinds line the street opposite the Chorten. The Buddhist Temple sits directly across from the entry to the Chorten. As part of our tour, Kike directed us to the temple.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Monks at Boudinathat Temple - May 29

Walking past the open windows of the temple we saw young monks studying their scripture and making temple music with their long brass horns and temple drums. This group of monks were taking a break from their studies.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Figures on the Temple Entry - May 29

Here at the Bhoudinatha Tempe, as at the monastery at Tengboche, we were amazed at the elaborate and colorful paintings and intricate carvings inside the temple. There is an exotic warmth and liveliness to the interior of the temple.

After our visit to the temple, we treated Kike to tea and cake at a nearby coffee shop, then departed for the next phase of our sightseeing day, a visit to the Hindu Temple complex at Pashupati.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Hindu Temple at Pashupati - May 29

Compared to the warmth and liveliness of the Buddhist Temples, the Hindu Temple at Pashupati seemed to us to be somewhat bizarre, cold, and even morbid.

Upon entering the temple complex, a small wizened little man approached us and decided he would be our guide. He spoke English well and his explanations of Hinduism, and the purposes of the temple were enlightening.

Our guide directed us through a portion of the temple where Mother Teresa attended the poor, sick elderly residents. The conditions these people lived in was dismal. The 250 residents were tiny, bent over, crippled by arthritis and most were barely able to walk. Kike took a moment to exchange a few pleasantries with an elderly Sherpa man, as all Sherpas regard each other as “family”.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Cremation in Progress - May 29

We crossed a murky, slow moving river on a stone bridge. To our left were a series of concrete platforms on the river bank. A funeral pyre was burning on one of the platforms. A professional tender was attending the fire to assure that the body is completely consumed.

The ashes will then be collected and thrown into the river. During the cremation, the rising smoke represents the soul rising to heaven, and the ashes in the river represents returning the body to the earth.

On the right side of the bridge a family was preparing a body for cremation. The body has been washed and wrapped in colorful fabrics.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Shrines at Pashupati - May 29

We climbed a long series of stairs. There are dozens of individual shrines. We saw several “tourist holy men” covered in white ash, with red and yellow paint on their faces. They get paid to have their photos taken.

The guide said that only 1 in 100 is truly a holy man. The real holy men live and study and meditate in caves along the river bank for 12 years to prepare for salvation.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Looking down Aligned Shrines at Pashupati - May 29

Great effort was used to make sure that the shrines were perfectly aligned, as shown in this image, looking down the openings. Symbolism is a very important aspect of Hinduism. The male/female symbols are shown in the middle of these small shrines.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Hindu Temple at Pashupati - May 29

Our last stop was at the Temple. We were not allowed to go inside because we were not Hindu and our parents and grandparents were not Hindu. But we did get a peak inside the massive silver doors where we could see the giant golden bull. Actually all we could see was the ass end of the bull.

Although interesting and enlightening for its symbolism, its architecture and its history, the human suffering we saw within the temple complex was heart wrenching. The lepers with deformed hands uplifted for alms, the ancient little people in the hospice waiting to die, a desperate old woman pleading pathetically for me to buy some of her beads, her tiny brown hands gripping my arm. The misery and desperation was overwhelming. I don't know how to help them. I can't dwell on it, yet the images haunt me.

The taxi ride back to our hotel was even more frenetic than usual. We were still about a quarter mile from our hotel when absolute grid lock stopped our progress. Kike paid the driver, and we bailed out pushing our way through the crowd to the Hotel Vaisali.

There was time left in the warm afternoon for relaxing by the pool. Later, we repacked our duffels. Dinner was at Rumdoodles. We were in bed by 8:00. There would be a 4:15 wake-up call and the beginning of the long flight home.

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