We’ve not had much chance to be tourists in the ten days we’ve spent in Kathmandu so far. Life has been full of work paperwork and procedures, hiring and settling staff, settling ourselves, unpacking stuff, figuring out the grocery store and what and where to buy 10,000 other different bits and pieces that we need. Before Latham leaves for uni on Monday, I wanted to get a couple of tourist days in so his impression of Kathmandu wasn’t just grocery shelves, an empty house and crazy traffic.
So yesterday we headed off to Swayambhuneth Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site also known as Monkey temple. The temple is located on the top of a hill and its a steep 365 step climb up.
The climb is also broken up my all sorts of interesting things to look at on the way up…lots of excuses to stop and look at the details. The climb starts with troops of monkeys running around at the stairway entrance. They are very tame, very entertaining, and I imagine pretty obnoxious too, although they gave us no problems. More on those later…. Then there’s plenty of vendors, statues, shrines along the way. Half way up there is a sort of Buddha garden with well kept statues to keep you company as you catch your breathe.
Reaching the top you are rewarded with a close up view of the temple which sits in the center of a large multi-level courtyard that’s like a small village.
There are viewing platforms all around where you can take in amazing views of Kathmandu. The temple itself is surrounded by rows of prayer wheels, flower sellers, strings of butter candles and incense burners, souvenir sellers, more statues of Buddha and, of course, more monkeys. The devout were chanting and circling the temple with drums, cymbals, and horns. Pigeons fly everywhere, stray dogs are sleeping in the most unlikely places, and monkeys pop up on the rooftops above you. There’s a lot to take in!