Boudha Stupa is probably THE cultural destination in Kathmandu…for a reason. It is an extremely atmospheric place that continues to be a fascinating draw for me even after 18 months of living here, and my blog header for reason. There aren’t that many tourists but those that do come, click away at the mesmerizing Stupa eyes, and every tourist must have something similar to this iconic shot:
Yet we got to see a different side of the Stupa this weekend. It turned out to be a maintenance routine day, and it was fascinating to watch. It gave me a much better sense of its scale (and vulnerability) to see the guys up there with ladders.
It started with a guy and a ladder. “What’s he up to?” we thought.
Maybe an eyelash problem? Smudged makeup? No. Must be something else… ;o)
It turned out that he was the advance party, heading up to the top part of the face. His job was to drape a fresh skirt around the temple. (I’m sure its not called a skirt, but I have no idea of its name or its religious significance? Perhaps someone could enlighten me?
Next the painter showed up. We saw buckets of what looked like whitewash and, sure enough, in a few minutes more guys showed up with more buckets and a very fast “paint job” was underway. Whitewash isn’t paint and behaves very differently. (If you’re interested in how to whitewash see my earlier post). I’m sure our Greek friends would be interested to see the “chuck it” method of whitewash application!
There did actually appear to be skill in the throwing method. The whitewash was was thrown in an arch. The archs were carefully spaced out and, if you look carefully, you can see that the whitewash has repeatedly been thrown in the same places so that they form a pattern.
So having solved the mystery of arches on Nepalese stupas, I also answered another question: The thickly encrusted white stripes on the base of stupas comes from years of dribbled whitewash, not pigeon poop. Phew!
Archways are often grand statements or a supporting part of intricate architecture. For my entry in this week’s travel theme: arches, I decided to take a look at a different kind of arch that I’ve seen around quite a lot. I’ve noticed a surprising similarity between towns in the Philippines (barangays) and some districts in the Nepal. There is often some kind of archway as you enter the town. Its a welcome to visitors and an announcement of where you are. These arches are grand in their own way I suppose. Here are a few interesting examples:
A typical town archway in the Philippines
Is it really an arch if it’s not curved? This square “archway” is at the entrance of Namobuddha stupa, outside of Kathmandu
This ornately painted archway is at the entrance way into Sankhu, a town in the eastern part of the Kathmandu valley
And finally, when I was walking on the Thames Path in London, I noticed this archway over the entrance to Woolwich Market. It reminded me of the Philippines. The sign dates Woolwich market back to the 1600s. I wonder if signed archways used to be a thing in the UK back then too?
For this week’s Photo Challenge, we were asked to imagine images we would like to see gracing the cover of a book, an album, or a magazine. What image would we choose to inspire others to take a peek through the pages, listen to the music, or buy a ticket to the show?
I chose an image for a coffee table book “Temples of Nepal” from a photo I recently took of the Namobuddha Stupa. Now to start working on the content…!