Kathmandu probably has the world’s densest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites when pas cher handbagsUGG online outletcompared to places of a similar size. Most of these sites are sacred places, standout monuments in a network of countless power places that are scattered throughout the Kathmandu Valley. They are pilgrimage sites for some; replique montre suisse for others its appeal is in its artistic and architectural beauty. Whether you go as a pilgrim or a tourist or a wanderer, the Changu Narayan temple is likely to enrapture you with its religious and cultural aspect as well as its location.
Resisting the medieval temptation that is Bhaktapur Durbar Square, going north from it, further and further from the city, traveling on a road with paddy fields on either side, you arrive at the small Newar village that is the gateway to the temple of Changu Narayan, the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley.
Besides devotees who come for a glimpse of Vishnu, Changu also draws picnickers, weekenders, young couples,UGG online outlet tourists, and many others who come seeking nothing more than an escape from the Valley’s crowds and noise.fifa 15 coins But this influx of people does not affect the quaintness of the small Newar village below the temple. Old heads peep from windows of equally old Newar-style houses, women chat as they wait their turn at the sunken water spigots, ducks waddle, and chicken scurry about. Wooden masks, Louis Vuitton outlet incense holders, and other bric-a-brac hang in shop fronts. Artists sit painting paubas to the accompaniment of Om Mani Padme Hum.
Located above all this – physically and spiritually – is the Changu Narayan temple, standing like a jewel in the center of a large courtyard. To enter this courtyard is to step into another world. Scattered all around it are ancient stone sculptures of magnificent craftsmanship. The wooden struts of the temple are especially beautiful, carved in the shape of Vishnu’s various avatars (incarnations). In the southeastern corner of the courtyard is the small shrine of the goddess Chinnamasta, who is also revered as the Tantric Buddhist deity Vajra Yogini. Everywhere you look there is a brilliant artistic rendition of a mythological tale.
More of Nepal’s cultural and artistic heritage is on display in the Living Traditions Museum. Housed in a restored sattal, or guesthouse, the museum exhibits objects of daily use found in the homes of the various ethnic groups of Nepal. Here you can admire Tharu jewelry and get a glimpse of Maithali kitchens. Or you can just sit at one of the windows and enjoy the activity in the courtyard below.
Bhaktapur once again lies in your path as you return from Changu. Don’t ignore this timeless city for the second time in a day. You’ll understand why when you see the Durbar Square gilded in the evening sunlight.
August Highlights at Changu Narayan
Every year on Naagpanchami, people afflicted with diseases and problems related to the skin come to Changu Narayan seeking a cure. It is believed that the Garuda statue atop the pillar in front of the temple’s western door sweats on Naagpanchami. The head priest wipes the sweat from the statue with a cloth. This cloth is then torn into small pieces and distributed. These pieces are believed to have the power to cure skin diseases. Naagpanchami falls on August 1 this year.
Another major event at Changu is the annual Kalash Yatra, or “water jar procession.” A small group of Nepal Army soldiers arrive on horseback at the temple on this day to escort the jars and jewels of the temple to Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu. The head priest and other members of the entourage that carry the sacred objects walk barefoot from the temple, crossing the Manhora River, before walking all the way to Hanuman Dhoka. There the kalash is shown to the President (formerly it was shown to the king). Even the Kumari comes to see it. The Kalash Yatra will be held on August 8 this year.
To Get There
Buses leave every half-an-hour from Baghbazaar for Changu Narayan (cost: 40 rupees). Changu Narayan temple entrance fee: 100 rupees for foreigners and 25 rupees for Indian citizens.
Go to Siddha Pokhari, near the western entrance to the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, then head north to the junction with the road that goes to Nagarkot. After a kilometer or so take the left turn. Changu Narayan is seven kilometers from here. Alternative is to go to Sankhu and then hike up to the Changu Narayan hill.
Where to Stay
Changu Guest House (Anish Bhatta: 9818178336/01-5090852; www.changuguesthouse.com)
Where to Eat
Changu Guest House has wonderful daal-bhaat. For Newari cuisine try Binayak Restaurant (Ram Prasad Kasula: 9851042807). The free-range chicken (local kukhura) curry with rice is a delicacy not to be missed. For tea and coffee try the LTM Café or the decades-old tea shop located in the south-western corner of the temple courtyard. Treat yourself to a cup of Bhaktapur’s famous yogurt on your way to or back from Changu.
Changu Narayan is best visited during the dry months (summer or autumn), which means dusty roads. This makes a good pair of sunglasses almost indispensable. Face masks are recommended, especially if you’re traveling by motorbike.
Around Changu Narayan
There are several interesting hikes from Changu to the outlying areas. One is to the old trading town of Sankhu. The other is to the resort town of Nagarkot. Although locals frequent these routes, it is always better to hire a guide. For guided tours contact Anish Bhatta (9818178336/01-5090852).
Changu on a Wednesday
On Wednesday mornings, the priest of the Changu Narayan temple prepares kheer (rice and milk pudding), consecrates it by offering it to the God in the inner sanctum, and then distributes it to anyone who asks for it. This dish is considered so sacred that many devotees feed it to their infants as their first morsel of solid food. Infants who are thus blessed need not have the customary (and elaborate) pashni, or rice-feeding ceremony.
Garden of the Gods
This small “garden,” which is actually a small courtyard, located near the Changu Guest House contains some unique stone sculptures.
Behind the Western Doorway
For a glimpse of what a traditional Newar village looks (looked) like, go behind the western doorway of the temple courtyard and descend down a flight of stairs. You’ll find yourself between old Newar houses, and sharing a narrow lane with numerous ducks and chickens.
Living Traditions Museum
The Living Traditions Museum shop has some of the most beautiful photos of Kathmandu’s past in postcard form (Sunita Bhadel, manager: ; Judith Chase, owner: 9808038417; email@example.com).
Coins several centuries old, rice over two centuries old, and a rhino-skin shield are just three of the many strange and quaint objects on display at this private museum.