Thursday, 31 May 2012

Shining Shiva Shrines

Up the hill from the main complex of Pashupatinath is a remarkable array of shivalaya, or small shrines to Shiva. The place has the feel of an old, heavily patinaed southern cemetery, except you're walking amongst shrines, not tombs. There's uniformity in the size and layout of the shrines, but also plenty of room for unique details. Coupled with shade trees and monkeys, the place has an eerie, but cool vibe.

A look at a typical row of shivalayas. The moss adds to the style.

One of the finely carved details of a shrine. Ruins backdrop for extra mood.

The ever-present bull guarding a shrine. A nice shivalaya.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Hindu Painting At Pashupatinath

There was so much to see at Pashupatinath. The temple complex, the ghats, the people, Sadhus and all the action. Tucked in a corner was a modest building with not-so-modest murals.

Portraying the lives of a fraction of Hinduism's gods in beautiful, vibrant colors, the murals definitely draw one's eye. Take a look.

The mural-covered building.

On the left, that's the blue-tinged cowherd, Krishna.  On the right: Shiva depicted with his ever-present trident and snakes.

The monkey god Hanuman. And the remover of obstacles, Ganesh. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Put To Rest At Pashupati

Just as important as the temple at Pashupati are the cremation ghats. They're a holy place to say goodbye to loved ones and practice traditional cremation by the Bagmati river. It's one of the more profound events we've witnessed in our foreign travels, a raw and moving example of both the immediacy and limited time of life.

The cremation platforms dot the river. Once the body is placed on a pyre and cremated, the ashes go into the river to be washed away.

Before a body is placed on a platform it's carefully wrapped, blessed and paraded. Friends and family saying goodbye.

A cremation. Sometimes the pyre is an elaborate, flower encrusted beautiful affair. Another example of what makes Asia such a colorful place to be.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Precious Pashupatinath

Nepal's holiest Hindu site is the impressive temple and cremation complex called Pashupatinath. Located about four kilometers from Kathmandu, the main temple is dedicated to Shiva and has stood in some form on the site since the 5th century. If you're not Hindu, you can't roam around and see the whole complex. It's still worth visiting to see the architecture, the Sadhus (dreadlocked holy men), the cremations (covered in the next post) and the general scene.

The Pashupatinah complex. A typical visitor, maybe not so far removed from this Bob Dylan song.

A Sadhu, a regular sight at temples that celebrate Shiva. Another view of the complex.

Looking at the other side of the river, opposite the temple complex. Plenty of room to view all the action. Another worshipper.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Going Country In Nepal

The bustle and pollution of Kathmandu are good motivators to encourage one to get out of the city and see some rural life. Oh, did somebody say you can see the Himalayas? Done.

You think the Himalayas just start in some flat parking lot? Nope, smaller mountains and unnamed hills are standard terrain in Nepal. So is farming. If you want to grow a crop, time to terrace. During February, the yellow flower of mustard seemed to be the crop most often grown.

A beautiful day for laundry, in this case, all the linen from our hotel. Going green by necessity. Sarah and steppes.

A typical farm on a hill. Wander around, peek through a wall break and be rewarded with a Himalayan view.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Nepal Notices

Everyday signs are a great window to a culture, a peek at what's important and how a people express themselves. Here are samples from Nepal.

Do not complain about this water! And Beware of Dog! If only The Home Depot offered such fine illustration. This notice certainly beats the generic orange and black one available back in the US. Nice tongue, we're terrified.

A tailor with a couple of model examples. What part of Open! don't you get?

A bathroom sign. It's nice of them to point the proper way. "Psst, over here." And looking much better than what's to come. A sign easily readable in any language. Jeans, it's what's for wearing. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Best Face Forward

Masks are used in all sorts of festivals in Nepal. Cultural, religious, Buddha, Hindu, folklore, get a bunch of people together and start a  parade. One shop had a particularly good selection of masks, well crafted and great themes. Paper mache perfection.

The wall of mask fame, beckoning the shopper.

Double your pleasure: a blue Krishna(?) emerging from some sort of aquatic monster? Masks can also be sweet.

Nice skull plugs. Bringing out your animal side.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Have A Seat

There's a lot of hanging out in Nepal. Might as well get comfortable. Presenting the stool of Nepal: a small weaved circular beauty, complete with old tire bottom hem. They're everywhere, in front of houses, shops, shrines, anywhere one has a chance to rest for awhile and let the world go by.

Taking in a ball game? Grab a seat.

The humble provider, losing its hem. Man gets stool, dog gets ground.

Vendors use them to stake out their stores.
And where to get a stool? The stool man, of course.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

They Grow Up So Fast

They're so small and cute when they're young. And then it all transforms, as they pout to adulthood. Why should Nepal be any different? Save for an obsession with school uniforms, the kids in Nepal exhibit the universal stages of growing up.

So young, so cute, so polite. Branching out in the world and gaining experience in a market economy. Oh, the joy of running free around town!

Now we're older, time to travel in packs and start to act like we own the place. This neighborhood is so yesterday. Skirts? You must be joking. Smile? Such a comedian.
Yea, I'm wearing my brother's old shoes, what of it? 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Boudha Folks

In addition to the grand stupa at Boudha, the people scene was also impressive. Monks, city folk, country folk, worshippers, vendors, gawkers, the place has it all. A selection: