This morning, after a generous breakfast at the Hotel Holy Himalaya, we went on a “city tour” arranged for us by Wongchu and Dolma from Peak Promotion. Our guide was the delightful and articulate Arjun Bhattarai. Our first stop Swayambunath or “the monkey temple”. This well known Buddhist temple is perched on a steep hill from which the eyes of Buddha overlook the Kathmandu valley. Ed and Todd took lots of photos and jousted with the vendors, Ron and Alice bought a Mandela carved in slate and Mark successfully pitched a coin into a pot in the middle a small pond, an act certain to bring good luck to the trek.
From Swayambu we went to Pashupatinath. This is the largest and most important Hindu temple in Nepal . It is dedicated to Shiva, the reproducer and destroyer. Phallic sculpture and symbolism is everywhere. It is common for Hindu families to cremate their dead here on the banks of the Bagmati River. From here then ashes flow south to India and the sacred Ganges.
After Pashupati we went to Bodhnath, the largest Buddhist stupa In Asia. We followed Buddhist custom and walked around the base of the stupa counterclockwise bumping into saffron robed monks and spinning prayer wheels. We had a nice lunch on a noutdoor terrace overlooking the stupa. Curries and momos were enjoyed by all. Then we visited the Buddha Stupa Thangka Center where we heard a nice lecture on thangka painting and looked at many mandela, circle of life, and life of Buddha paintings.