Day 1 - Landing in Kathmandu
Hey everyone - this is the long awaited Nepal blog post and vlog! If any of you follow my Instagram you might have seen the photograph I posted a couple of days ago about this trip to Nepal I took back in 2016. It’s now March 2020 and you know what they say better late than never! Anyway I hope you like this video and perhaps it can be a little escapism during this uncertain time!
We flew from London Heathrow to Delhi airport, and then took a smaller plane from Delhi to Kathmandu. The fog was pretty bad and we almost didn’t land but in the end everything was fine! After over 12 hours in the air we were pretty shattered, headed straight to the airport - The Annapurna and ate in one of the hotel restaurants before heading to bed.
Day 2 - Swayambhunath
Now I should probably say the reason for this trip was my family friend’s wedding - they are Nepalese and very kindly invited us! The next day was the engagement party! Absolutely stunningly decorated, the party was held in the garden of the bride’s house. As this was a private wedding I can’t show too much of it. All of the Nepalese family were so welcoming and it was such an amazing experience.
In the evening, once it had cooled down a little - we travelled along to Swayambhunath temple. Swayambhunath is a Buddhist complex on top of a hill in the west of Kathmandu. Swayambhunath is a Tibetan word meaning ‘Sublime Trees’ but locally in Kathmandu they call it ‘Shing.kun’ which is the local Nepalese Bhasa for ‘self-sprung’. For many Buddhists in Nepal Swayambhunath is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in Nepal.
In order to reach Swayambhunath you must climb a very steep hill of 365 steps - at the top is the incredible stupa, along with many shrines and temples. This is the main stupa and it has these incredible eyes of the Buddha painted on looking in all four directions.
Unfortunately exactly a year previous to my trip in April 2016 was the April 2015 Nepal earthquake and Swayambunath suffered a great deal of damage. In fact throughout the entire of my trip it was very sobering to see how badly Nepal had suffered.
One of the first things you will notice at this temple are the huge amount of monkeys! These monkeys are in fact holy monkeys.
On our way back to the hotel we walked through a lovely market full of beautiful trinkets.
Day 3 - Patan & Bokhara
The next day we didn’t have any wedding festivities to attend as it was a family-only day and so we took the opportunity to drive 20-30 minutes to the south of Kathmandu to Patan and Bhaktapur. At the time of writing/filming this trip will cost around 400 nepalese rupees by taxi. Patan was once independent from Kathmandu as a town but over time it has become more and more a part of Kathmandu due to the close proximity - you just cross the Bagmati River. Nowadays some people call it Patan and other people call it Lalitpur.
Patan and Bhaktapur are famous for its arts and crafts and all around you will find beautiful wood carvings, metal crafts and statues. When we were there there was actually a festival and there were whole groups of people playing music through the streets. Patan is an UNESCO World Heritage Site with a royal palace and a whole collection of temples in the central square. Again these cities were very badly damaged during the earthquake and you will see lots of buildings being propped up by wooden scaffolding. In total Patan has 55 major temples and 136 Buddhist monasteries.
Bhaktapur is very close to Patan with more incredible temples - in Bhaktapur I would recommend visiting the golden gate and which is in the middle of Durbar Square.
On our way home we stopped off in another marketplace in Kathmandu to buy a sari for the wedding events over the next few days. I had brought a few with me but I thought it would be really special to buy one actually from Kathmandu. We found this shop and went upstairs to find an enormous room full of beautiful fabrics. I chose purple and gold and I still have the sari and treasure it! This is a photograph I found of me wearing it a few evenings later at an evening reception at another hotel.
Day 4 & Day 5 - Wedding and Reception days, The Temple of the Living Goddess
Our fourth and fifth days in Kathmandu were the actual wedding and wedding reception days - they were incredible. There were many different ceremonies that took place both at the bride’s house and then at the groom’s house.
In the evening we went to another reception with this beautiful lit driveway and once again entered a gorgeous decorated garden - we then had a lovely meal full of Nepalese delicacies.
On the fifth day we had some time before some more of the wedding parties to visit The temple of the Living Goddess in Kathmandu. ‘Kumari’ or ‘Living Goddess’ is a young girl who is chosen as a manifestation of ‘devi’ or divine female energy in the Nepalese Buddhist community. The Royal Kumari in Kathmandu is kept in a palace in the centre of Kathmandu called the ‘Kumari Ghar’. When the girl reaches puberty she is replaced by another girl. The life of a Kumari is very different now to years before. Nowadays the girls are allowed to attend school and return to normal life after being replaced. When we were there we were lucky enough to actually see her - her name is Matina Shakya, however I believe since then another one has been chosen.
Day 6 - Nagarkot
Our penultimate day in Nepal we drove to Nagarkot to view Everest. If you are on a budget the best way to get to Nagarkot is to travel to Bhaktapur and get a bus to Nagarkot which takes around an hour and a half and costs around 100 rupees in total at time of filming. We luckily managed to get a car from our hotel which was fantastic and our guide was absolutely charming.
Nagarkot is a village approximately 2000 metres high up.
It is famous for its fantastic view of the Himalayas including Mount Everest. A lot of people travel in time for sunrise or sunset to get the best views - we travelled around midday and you can get lots of fun pictures and panoramic videos like these!
Whilst up there you can also visit the Changunarayan Temple which is a Hindu pilgrimage site dedicated to Vishnu.
That evening we went for supper at the most beautiful hotel called Dwarika’s Hotel. The hotel was absolutely stunning - I don’t think any of my photos are able to do it justice. The hotel is made up of a collection of heritage Nepali houses and courtyards. The original owner Dwarika Das Shrestha was a conservationist and won a UNESCO Heritage Award for this hotel. These traditional wooden buildings were going to be knocked down but the hotel saved that from happening and Dwarika saved many more ancient wood carvings and placed them in the hotel. In this beautiful courtyard there is a carpenter’s wood workshop, and other boutique shops.
Day 7 - The Garden of Dreams
The next day we had one last chance to go out into Kathmandu. We chose to visit the lovely ‘Garden of Dreams’ also known as the ‘Garden of Six Seasons’. It is this almost mirage like Eden within the bustling chaotic city of Kathmandu. You can barely hear any traffic once inside the gardens which within them have pavilions, an amphitheater, ponds, fountains, birdhouses and verandas. It is opposite the former Royal Palace and was created for Kaiser Sumsher Rana who was a field marshal in the Nepalese Army and a son of the then Prime Minister of Nepal. It was designed by the architect Kishore Narshingh.
Day 8 - Heading Home
Sadly after a wonderful week in Kathmandu it was time to return home. I really hope you have enjoyed this video - do give it a like it you did and comment down below if you have been to Nepal or are planning to go - I’d love to know what you saw and did. I’m definitely planning on visiting again as there is so much to see, so any suggestions would be great!
WATCH MY KATHMANDU VLOG HERE
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