Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nagarkot, Nepal - Cradled in the Mountains

The ornate pines that stand guard en-route the journey from Bhaktapur, seemingly whisper  about the beautiful hills that approaches you !

Nagarkot, lying barely 32 Kms. away from Kathmandu, is a different world in itself. With ascent from Bhaktapur, the weather changes dramatically. The clean but cool air flowing across the mountains can blow your fatigue away and can catch you by surprise ! ( Indeed a welcome and pleasant surprise.) 

Newari Architecture
Architecture at the Nagarkot
The beautiful valley filled with dense pine trees paves way from the dust bowl that would be encountered on account of an ongoing road construction. Swiftly, the air keeps on getting pleasant with real freshness. Nagarkot, that is regarded as a 'Hill Station' (terminology common to the subcontinent and to an extent,  the Anglicized world) stands nestled and cradled among the Himalayas.

While the morning trip from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur is a pleasant surprise in terms of beating the city traffic, the trip to Bhaktapur, in true sense is a respite from the weather in Bhaktapur.
Lush Green Pine Valleys
Lush Green Pine Valleys

The Kathmandu Valley below is associated with unique history and architecture however, Nagarkot is more about stunning landscapes and guess what, even better sunrises and sunsets!

It is common for visitors to come to Nagarkot for sunrises and even sunsets, but trust me even the scenery and landscapes on offer across the day can take your heart away!

The astounding resilience and determination witnessed across Nepal was rightfully captured in the poster below which as seen at Nagarkot.
Nepal, Determination and Resilience
Nepal : Story of Resilience and Determination
The beauty of Nagarkot grows on you, so much so, that to an extent, the beauty itself becomes a monotony. A monotony that you'd wish to get more monotonous than ever. The undeterred flags of faith splurge colours while they stand guard to un-wavered conviction in ever-wavering winds.

Unwavering flags waving in the crystal clean air
Unwavering flags waving in the crystal clean air
Smiling sunshine sit atop the densely populated pine trees and mingle with clear flowing breeze around. And the biggest bonus is that all of it comes with exquisite views.

Lush green Forests criss-crossing the sunshine and the wind



The prayer flags apparently spray colors in the air as the wind progresses under the spotless blue skies, almost persuading the clouds to clear up the mountains !



Eventually, I had the opportunity to view the Langtang valley as the mountains cleared up for the views ! And as the luck got better, couldn't believe that Mount Everest (locally known as Sagarmatha) lay ahead for the views, sneaking through the white clouds.

That feeling of witnessing the Everest is simply inexplicable ! Way more than Amazing, a truly lifetime experience !



Tips for the Place :
  • Nagarkot is definitely more than worth a day trip, best to reach during evening stay overnight and then decide as per your schedule.
  • At times, you need to be patient for the views of the Himalayas, including Mt. Everest.
  • Even you are moving from Kathmandu Valley, the chill in air at times can be a big surprise.
  • Needless to say, Nagarkot has access to excellent sunrises and to an extent sunsets as well.
  • Definitely do go to the Nagarkot 'Tower', known locally as 'Tower'. The views up there are really amazing.
  • I'd suggest Club Himalayas for food and stay as I had been to the place and found the services to be quite good, but then it is on the higher side of the economics !

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Golden Gate to Faith - Taleju Temple of Bhaktapur, Nepal

The reflection of the golden gate of the Taleju Temple situated in the Bhaktapur Square, on the 'Durbar' was as inviting as its marvelous frontal architecture.  The golden hue matched the scintillating rays of the winter skies. The Taleju Temple is devoted to worship of goddess and many construe the word to be a connotation of the goddess 'Tulja Bhavani', revered deeply in the Indian subcontinent. The Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple is prohibited for the visitors and is believed to be mystically open to select religious faiths and only on the select days of a year. 


Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
The Golden Gate of Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur


The inner architecture of the temple, comprising intricately designed wooden windows and army of golden hued bricks appear to add to the harmony. There were visible impacts of the destruction caused by the earthquake with scores of idols lying for want of resurrection, however they were definitely not as grave as those of the square outside.

Architecture at Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Idols wanting for restoration beneath the intricate architectural design

The architecture appeared to be a conflux of several forms of with balconies having reflection of jharokhas and major usage of bricks, also a common feature across other temple of the Kathmandu valley.

Architecture at Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Wooden Architecture - At its Best !


Architecture at Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Priceless Idols demarcated temporarily


Architecture at Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Amazing Architecture - Continues

Architecture at Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Splendid Architecture

The internal sanctum leads to a stepped pond that stands opposite to the main temple and the water is considered to be quite pious by the worshipers. There are multiple statues of snake gods, the most prominent being that of the bronze statue, that stands guard outside the pond, facing the premises of the main temple. There is a shiva linga present as well on an elevated platform.

Stepped Pond - Inside the Taleju Temple
Stepped Pond - Inside the Taleju Temple

Bronze Snake Statue, Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Bronze Statue that adores the Pond

Bronze Snake Statue, Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Bronze Snake Statue, Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur

Bronze Snake Statue, Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Bronze Snake Statue, Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur

The photography is prohibited inside the main temple and its entry is restricted to only practitioners of Hindu and Buddhist religion. The temple inside is adorned with exquisite carvings and a square for offering 'pashu bali' to divine goddess. Inside the security guarded gates of the main temple, there are several other small temples adorned with excellent architecture. The setting is sure to erupt the images of the rituals that would be offered to the divine that is pivoted across a massive bell that is firmly placed in the courtyard of the temple. 

Architecture in the Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur
Architectural Delights - Taleju Temple, Bhaktapur

Overwhelming Curiosity and Innate Content

Leaving the temple for next destination of Nagarkot, there was as much overwhelming curiosity for what we didn't see, as much the innate content for what we did !