Kathmandu Windows and Doors 1

Wandering through the narrow streets of Kathmandu, I am constantly struck by the wooden doors and windows.  Most of these pictures were taken on a series of walks between Thamel and Durbar Square.  Hopefully many more will follow.

Some wooden balconies:

A nursery: 

A door:

You never know who might be looking out.  Siva and Parvati in Durbar Square:



Buddha en route to Lumbini via Snake

Here is a fantastic carving above a monastery in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square.  In the middle is the Buddha riding a snake while Indra holds a parasol:

This is quite a popular scene in Nepali Buddhist art, (you can see another version below the Golden Window in Patan) one which shows the gods as subservient to the Buddha after his enlightenment.

Thanks to GB for showing me!

The Shirish Flower and a Sanskrit Verse

Kathmandu is covered in trees bearing beautiful lavender flowers.  I asked some people what they are called, and learned that the name is the shirish flower.

I recalled a verse from Kalidāsa’s Kumārasaṃbhavam when Pārvatī’s mother, Menā, comes down to convince her daughter to give up practicing austerities, and come home.  Why should Pārvatī chase after Śiva when there are so many eligible bachelor gods hanging around in her hometown?  The verse culminates by comparing Pārvatī’s body to the delicate śirīśa flower.  Now I have a mental image for this beautiful verse.

At home too there are much-sought after gods

Ah my child, such penance is alien

To your body.

A śirīśa flower cannot sustain

The delicate alighting of a bee

Let alone that of a bird!

manīṣitāḥ santi gṛhe ’pi devatās

tapaḥ kva vatse kva ca tāvakaṃ vapuḥ |

padaṃ saheta bhramarasya pelavaṃ

śirīśapuṣpaṃ na punaḥ patatriṇaḥ || 5.4 ||

Reasons to visit Thamel: Vajra Books

Thamel is the main tourist quarter of Kathmandu.  Lots of stores selling Gurkha knives, Tibetan Thangkas, knit hats, Thai fisherman’s pants, climbing gear, and all combinations of hippy/trekking chic.  As much as I love Kukris, my personal favorite store is Vajra Books:

The selection of books about Indian, Nepali, and Tibetan Buddhism is mindbogglingly good, overseen by the knowledgeable Bidur Dangol.  I’ve already spent hours there, making book wish lists.  My suitcase is going to be much heavier on the way back!

Oh, and they recently added a lot more space on the second floor.  You’ll probably find me here if you happen to be in Nepal!