Durbar Square – Patan: Tuesday May 20th (out of order)
So this morning I moved all my stuff from my cute little hotel in Thamel (the tourist district) to the hostel in Kalinka. Language and culture classes for the volunteers started yesterday and are pretty great so far. We have all received our Nepali names, and mine is river. After class I headed to the third and final Durbar Square in Kathmandu Valley…
From high on a rooftop, I am treated to a spectacular view of Durbar Square Patan, the third and final Durbar Square in the Kathmandu Valley. Like many from this area, my tour guide today was very knowledgable and had a great command of the English language. Today as with other days, I was taken to sacred sites both Buddhist and Hindu. Everyone in Nepal stresses the harmony between all inhabitants regardless of their religion and it is certainly and obviously present in all the places I’ve been. Like the others, this Durbar Square represents a kingdom of times past. The kings of these places would build their towns very close to the royal palace so they could communicate and keep and eye on the people. Each royal palace has many windows they call eyes. From the inside, it is easy to see out, but from outside, one cannot see in due to the intricate woodwork. The Nepalese are very fond of festivals and in the middle of the square, there is a huge bell that can be heard for a one kilometer radius, and was used to call the people for any news, emergency, or festival.
As with the other squares, there is one temple in the middle that houses a linga and is held up by wood carved pillars of the Kama Sutra. Today, my guide explained it this way: “In the old times, girls were married at a very young age, like nine. After their wedding, their mother would tell them ‘go to this temple and look at the carvings, then you will know how to please your husband’.”
The Hindu Trinity is represented by the Gods Shiva (God of Destruction & Rejuvination), Vishnu (God of Protection), and Brahma (God of Creation). My guide told me when The God Shiva wanted to go someplace, he took the golden bull Nandi, that is why Nandi waits outside every temple to Shiva. He said “Just think of him as Shiva’s motorbike!” Also, the God Vishnu has Garuda, a bird like creature he rides, or turns into. Vishnu is often pictured as half man, half bird, a figure which is present in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
As I walked around, I saw many Hindu women praying to shrines of Ganesh, who is one of the forms of the God Shiva. Ganesh is depicted as an elephant and represents wisdom, good luck, and long life. The women are there praying for long life for their husbands.