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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Cultural Sites of Nepal

Nepal is a mostly Hindu country with a significant influence of Buddhism. The two religions have intermingled to such an extent that many Nepalese will identify with both. This thread is an attempt to capture Nepal's culture of religious tolerance and its diverse population (over 50 ethnic groups). Not to forget that the country is home to 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 3 being cultural and 2 natural.

Let me begin by posting pics of the tri-cities of Kathmandu Valley: Basantapur (Kantipur), Lalitpur (Patan), and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon). These medieval cities were collectively called "Nepal" during the 17th-18th century, before the unification of Nepal into a single country. Ruled by the Malla kings for centuries, they became part of the Gorkha kingdom in the 18th century. The unifier of Nepal, King Prithvi Narayan Shah named his new kingdom "Nepal" after the Nepal Valley (now known as Kathmandu Valley), which constitutes the three cities.

Kantipur (Basantapur) Durbar Square: Largest of the three remnants of the old cities, Basantapur was also the seat of Nepal's kings until the mid 1900s. It is the site for the celebration of Indra Jatra (festival dedicated to the Hindu Rain God Indra) as well the chariot procession of Seto Machhindranath (deity thought to bring rain).


- www.nepalsutra.com


9-taley durbar (9 storied palace)

Basantapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu
by gorbulas_sandybanks, on Flickr


Center of the Durbar Square, with temples in the backdrop.


Basantapur
by ANG SHERPA, on Flickr


Kumari Ghar- House of Nepal's most important living goddess, Kumari (She's a Buddhist girl chosen to represent a Hindu goddess, Taleju). It is said that one of the Malla kings had misbehaved with the Goddess Taleju while playing a game. This prompted her to get angry at the king and his city. The King decided to start the tradition of Kumari to appease Taleju. He also built a temple for her, which is at the highest point in the square.


Basantapur
by ANG SHERPA, on Flickr


Kumari (not the current one I think...not too sure)

www.galding.com


Taleju Temple: Temple dedicated to goddess Taleju. This temple is opened only once a year, during the largest Nepalese festival of Dashain (called Dusherra in India I think).

Taleju Temple 1
by dozafar, on Flickr


Taleju Temple

Taleju Temple
by © Jamie Mitchell, on Flickr


Nasal Chowk, Inside the old royal palace

Nasal Chowk, Basantapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu
by gorbulas_sandybanks, on Flickr

Nasal Chowk

Nasal Chowk, Basantapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu
by gorbulas_sandybanks, on Flickr



A city of temples
by yadavop, on Flickr



Untitled
by boundforotherports, on Flickr


Entrace to Hanuman Dhoka (literally translates to the gate of Hanuman): Old royal palace of Mallas, then the Shahs, now a museum.

Entrance to museum, Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu
by simon_white, on Flickr


The old royal palace

Hanuman-dhoka Royal Palace, Durbar Square, Kathmandu
by Mike Olszewski, on Flickr



Sunset at Durbar Square
by Mike Olszewski, on Flickr


Basantapur also has some Greco-Roman inspired buildings built by the aristocratic Ranas who ruled Nepal for 200 years by subduing the Shahs.

BASANTAPUR Durbar
by third finger mind, on Flickr


Aakhijhyal - windows, Nepali style. (Influenced by the Newari ethnic group of Nepal. The Newars were known to have influenced pagoda style building throughout Asia).

Hanuman Dhoka (Old Royal Palace)
by ghostwheel_in_shadow, on Flickr


The deity Kaal Bhairab- literally translated to black or dark Bhairab(angry manifestation of Shiva) just outside of Hanuman Dhoka. Sacred both to Hindus and many Buddhists of Nepal.

Tour des Annapurnas - Katmandu
by adelco, on Flickr


Swet Bhairab or white bhairab. This is showcased only once a year during the Indra Jatra festival. Otherwise, it is hidden behind a wooden structure for the rest of the year.

Sculpture of Akash Bhairav
by Mike Olszewski, on Flickr

Lalitpur and Bhaktapur will be covered next time!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square: Second largest medieval city within the Kathmandu Valley, Patan is also known as the city of artisans. Its numerous temples, courtyards, and palaces are proof.

The main entrance to the Durbar Square

patan
by cool_baral, on Flickr



Patan, Durbar Square by BrianSearwar, on Flickr

The statue of king Jayasthiti Malla on top of a pillar

Patan
by Pavlo Kuzyk, on Flickr


The Durbar Square

Patan
by Kit_Hartford, on Flickr


The whole square from afar

www.pbase.com


The aerial view of Patan Durbar Square

www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com


Another aerial shot

www.nepaltoursinfo.com


The statue of Garuda (one of the Hindu deities)

Patan
by Julyinireland, on Flickr


Temple dedicated to Lord Machhindranath- a syncretic deity holy to both Buddhists and Hindus

Patan Macchendranath Temple 10
by byronic501, on Flickr


Krishna Mandir- the temple dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Krishna. It is the most famous and important Krishna Temple in Nepal, drawing thousands of devotees every year during Krishna Janmasthami festival. The Garuda pays homage to him.


Patan Durbar Square
by krishan85, on Flickr


Another angle of the Krishna Temple on the right.

Patan Durbar Square
by september., on Flickr


Intricate carvings on one of the temples
[/url] Patan Durbar Square, Patan
by Lindsaymp, on Flickr[/IMG]


The old royal palace of the kings of Patan - now a museum

Patan Palace a different view
by yadavop, on Flickr


He greets visitors from atop of the old royal palace.

Patan
by Julyinireland, on Flickr


Courtyard inside the palace

Patan Royal Palace
by forest gan, on Flickr


Inside the Patan Palace (Patan Museum now)

Patan museum
by yadavop, on Flickr


Courtyard of the old palace

Patan museum courtyard by yadavop, on Flickr


More on the courtyard

Patan Museum, Nepal
by ChihPing, on Flickr


Medieval Nepalese artwork showcased in the museum
[/url] Patan Museum, Nepal
by ChihPing, on Flickr[/IMG]


More artwork

Patan Museum, Nepal
by ChihPing, on Flickr



Patan Museum, Nepal
by ChihPing, on Flickr



Patan Museum, Nepal
by ChihPing, on Flickr


Mahabuddha Temple- One of the Buddhist temples in Patan

Mahabuddha temple, Patan by textlad, on Flickr


Tantric symbolism on the Mahabuddha Temple

Door of the gods: Buddha, window display vajra star of Vajrayogini, 4-armed Dharma protectors, carved black wood, garuda, bliss whorls, Mahabuddha Temple, Patan, Kathmandu, Nepal
by Wonderlane, on Flickr


Doorway to the Golden Temple- A Buddhist temple in Patan

Doorway to the Golden Temple
by ghostwheel_in_shadow, on Flickr


The Golden Temple

Patan Golden Temple by Carolyn Cheng, on Flickr


Carvings on the Golden Temple

www.magic-photographer.com


Another angle

Golden Temple in Patan, Hiranayavarna Makavikar Nepal
by joaoleitao, on Flickr


The deities

Golden Temple in Patan, Hiranayavarna Makavikar Nepal
by joaoleitao, on Flickr


The Buddha of the Golden Temple

Golden Temple in Patan, Hiranayavarna Makavikar Nepal
by joaoleitao, on Flickr


Another shot of the Golden Temple

_DSC7844
by Alex aka Beserk, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Bhaktapur Durbar Square - I

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is another medieval city within the Kathmandu valley. It is referred to as the city of devotees (Bhakta - devotee, pur - city). In my opinion, it is the best preserved amongst the three durbar squares, mostly due to the fact that the locals take an active part in the preservation of their cultural heritage.

Temple complex

bhaktapur by __dina__, on Flickr


Main square

Bhaktapur
by Alok Sunuwar, on Flickr


The 55-windowed palace- palace of the erstwhile Malla kings of Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur Durbar Square - 55 Window Palace (18th cent.) (2)
by Prof. Mortel, on Flickr



Bhaktapur Nepal
by kimtravels, on Flickr


Nyatapol Temple - The tallest temple in Nepal

DSC_4925
by bildebk, on Flickr



Bhaktapur with Nyatapola
by AdjaFong, on Flickr


Bhaktapur Panorama

www.himalayanyetitrekking.com


Alleyways of Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur Backstreet
by Egy Sioux, on Flickr


Bhaktapur Street
by kimtravels, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Changunarayan Temple

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nepal (the whole Kathmandu Valley is considered a world heritage site as well), Changunarayan dates back to the 4th century, built during the Lichhavi rule of Kathmandu Valley by King Mandeva. The current temple was built in 1702, after a fire destroyed the old temple. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of the three main deities in Hinduism; he's also referred to as the preserver of life. Built in Nepalese pagoda style, it is considered one of the oldest temples in Nepal. (Source: www.lonelyplanet.com).


Changunarayan Temple
by yadavop, on Flickr


The front of the temple

changunarayan-4
by markos, on Flickr


A priest of the temple

Priest In Changunarayan Temple
by A_Glass_Eye, on Flickr


Main entrance to the temple, which is opened very rarely.

www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Budhanilkantha

Budhanilkantha is another important Hindu place of worship in Nepal. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who can be found in a sleeping position on a bed of snakes (naags or nagas). Budhanilkantha literally translates to old (budha) blue throat (nil - blue, kantha - neck/throat). The Vishnu idol is supposed to be over 1000 years old. (www.nepaltourism.net)


Budhanilkantha the lying Vishnu
by wufgaeng, on Flickr



Budhanilkantha
by boundforotherports, on Flickr



Budhanilkantha
by unclehoolio, on Flickr


The main entrance of the temple

Budhanilkantha
by boundforotherports, on Flickr



www.everestuncensored.org



www.fotopedia.com
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath aka the Monkey Temple is one of the most important Buddhist shrines in Nepal. Its legend goes back to the creation of Kathmandu Valley, which was a lake. According to legends, there was a lotus on the lake that existed in the valley before it was drained by Manjushree (a Buddhist deity) by cutting a hill. As the water drained, the lotus landed on top of a hill and later became Swayambhu (translated to: self sprung or the one that came into existence by itself). It is also holy to Hindus. It dates back to the 5th century CE and is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal.


Swayambhunath is a stupa, characterized by its dome. It is supposed to contain the relics of the Buddha.

Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu Valley
by Ahmad Shukri, on Flickr


The temple complex: the stupa has various interpretations. One interpretation says that the dome represents the womb, while others say it is the body. The eyes of the Buddha are on all sides of the stupa. The different levels of the circular rings which are golden represent the different stages towards enlightenment.

Swayambhunath Stupa
by sancha lama, on Flickr


Swayambhunath from afar: It is located on top of a hill in Kathmandu.

swayambhunath-hill-P1000153-rect-1000
by Liz Highleyman, on Flickr


http://www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com


One of the entrances to the temple.

http://nepali-cultural.blogspot.com


Swayambhunath at night

www.everestuncensored.org


Swayambhunath on top of the hill on the left, with the city of Kathmandu's sprawl at the bottom. The temples that are visible on the bottom right belong to the Basantapur Durbar Square.

http://www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com


The eyes of the Buddha that watches over Kathmandu (and the world :) ). The symbol below the eyes is the Nepali letter for "1" and it represents unity. The unity of "what" depends on who you ask: mind and body, or human kind as a whole or both.

Swayambhunath
by twiga269 ॐ FEMEN, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Indra Jatra Festival - I

The festival of Indra Jatra continues for eight days with much rejoicing, singing, dancing and feasting. People from all over Nepal, mostly those who live within the Kathmandu Valley, gather at the Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu. On the first day, a long wooden pole is erected in front of the ancient Royal Palace at Hanuman Dhoka, in order to propitiate Lord Indra, the"god of rain". Classical dancers also assemble at the spot, wearing different kinds of traditional masks and costumes and dancing around the courtyard of Hanuman Dhoka to celebrate Indra's visit. Indra is the king of heaven in the Hindu religion and is also the god of rain.

Erecting the pole

https://www.facebook.com/Indrajatra


Masked dancer (lakhey dance) : He's said to ward off evil spirits.

God Costume - Indra Jatra
by Ostrosky Photos, on Flickr


People come out in droves to watch the dances and the chariot processions at Basantapur Durbar Square.

Indra Jatra festival, Kathmandu, Nepal
by ρrakaz (Digital Monk), on Flickr


The dance of the druken elephant (Pulu Kissi)

www.phalano.com


Another masked dancer

Indra Jatra
by izahorsky, on Flickr



www.theasian.asia



http://www.yetitrailadventure.com
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Indra Jatra Festival - II

On the third day of the festival of Indra Jatra, the living goddess Kumari is taken out in a procession in a chariot. "Kumari", the "living goddess", is considered to be an incarnation of the goddess "Taleju". Chariots of Kumari, Ganesha and Bhairav are taken around the city for three days. According to Hindu beliefs Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati who has a head of an elephant and Bhairav is another form of Lord Shiva himself.

The chariot of Ganesh being pulled by young men

www.megaportail.com


The brigade of Gurkha soldiers in their traditional uniform. They lead the processions.

www.demotix.com


The chariot of Kumari, the living goddess (she's sitting inside, with red attire)

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com

The Kumari being led to the chariot.

www.lonelyplanet.com


The chariot processions taking place. On the left, the former king and queen of Nepal along with foreign dignitaries (usually all the ambassadors of countries with whom Nepal has diplomatic relations) view the whole festival from the balcony of the old royal palace.

www.nepalitimes.com


Women from the Newari ethnic community of Nepal playing traditional music during the festival.

www.everestuncensored.org


Indra Jatra is the only festive time when Aakash Bhairab is revealed. Most of the year, the mask is hidden inside the wooden building.

www.himalayanglacier.com


It is also the only time when the deity of Akash Bhairab (Bhairab of the sky) is paraded around the city. Most of the time, the deity is placed in a temple.

Decoration of Askash Bhairab for Indra Jatra by BAJRArt, on Flickr


The temple of Akash Bhairab in Kathmandu

Akash Bhairab Temple, Kathmandu
by drumcarruthers, on Flickr


Thus, Indra Jatra is a hodge podge of colorful dances, processions, socialization, and merry making. The atmosphere is frantic yet spiritual at the same time.

More masked dancers

www.theage.com.au



www.bbc.co.uk



nimg.sulekha.com



http://www.theasian.asia


Finally, this picture encapsulates what most festivals in Nepal represent, an amalgamation of various cultures. Despite Indra Jatra being celebrated for the Hindu god Indra, it has Buddhist undertones signified through several dances. Despite the numerous cultures that exist within Nepal, we've lived in harmony for centuries. This last picture brings together the essence of Nepal: separate colors that have their own unique places but all blend together to give rise to a beautiful bigger picture.

DSC_0937
by juliaf, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bouddhanath Stupa

Bouddhanath stupa is the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal and one of the country's most important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. It has emerged as a centre for Tibetan Buddhism, with many Tibetan refugees living in its premises.


Boudhanath by sahadevbenz, on Flickr



www.dpreview.com



Boudhanath by krishan85, on Flickr


Premises of the stupa

boudhanath-overview-IMG_2370-rect-1000
by Liz Highleyman, on Flickr


Aerial view of the stupa

www.explorehimalaya.com


Bouddhanath from afar

www.explorehimalaya.com


Bouddhanath during the night

Bouddhanath Stupa
by ashishkoirala, on Flickr
 

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Ktm to host tourism, cultural festival of mid, far western regions

REPUBLICA

KATHMANDU, May 18: Residents of the capital can taste the food and get a glimpse of the culture of mid and far western regions in Kathmandu itself soon, as the West Women Aware Group (WWAG) is organizing Mid and Far Western Tourism and Cultural Festival in the City Hall from May 24 to 26.

WWAG President Godawari Singh Shahi
Link:http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=54874
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Muktinath

Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa is one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Nepal for both Buddhists and Hindus. It is a great example to our world of a sacred place shared in harmony by devotees of two world religions. It is located at an altitude of over 3,700 meters and is in the district of Mustang in northern Nepal.
Via: www.muktinath.org


www.trekntour.com


"Welcome to Muktinath" information board
by Mary Loosemore, on Flickr


Muktinath Hindu temple, Annapurnas, Nepal
by Eric Lon, on Flickr



Pristine Muktinath Temple
by ghumghamphotos, on Flickr



Muktinath
by anita.niza, on Flickr


Water spouts in Muktinath

Waterspouts at Muktinath
by faj2323, on Flickr


The main temple

Main Vishnu temple, Muktinath temple complex
by Mary Loosemore, on Flickr


View from Muktinath

View from Muktinath
by nick_hardcastle, on Flickr



Dhaulagiri range seen from Muktinath
by jonsequitur, on Flickr



Muktinath temple by bhaskar79, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Janaki Mandir

Janaki Mandir is dedicated to goddess Sita. This temple is located at the heart of Janakpur in southern Nepal and is a famous Hindu temple. This temple is one of the best examples of Hindu-Rajput architecture, which is very different from the architectural style found in the Kathmandu Valley. Janakpur is one of the most important cities of the Terai region of Nepal and was the capital of the ancient Mithila Kingdom.

History of the temple:
In AD 1911 this temple was built by Queen Brisabhanu Kunwar and she paid 9 lakh rupees (900,000 rupees) to build this temple. This is the reason this temple is also famous with the name of Temple of Nine Lakh or Nau Lakha Mandir.

It is said that in 1657 the golden statue of Goddess Sita was found there and also it is believed that Sita lived in the area. As per the legend the Sannyasi Shurkishordas found the statue of goddess Sita where the temple was built. Sannyasi Shurkishordas was the great saint who was also founder of modern Janakpur. He was also a poet who always preached about the Sita Upanishad or the Sita Upasana.
Via: http://www.nepaltourism.net/janaki-mandir.html


www.hotelnepal.com



Janaki Mandir Temple, Janakpur Nepal
by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL, on Flickr



Janaki Mandir by aalok_21, on Flickr



dusk at Janaki Mandir by bzchrmr, on Flickr


Janaki Mandir Temple, Janakpur Nepal
by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL, on Flickr


Inside the temple

Janaki Mandir Temple, Janakpur Nepal
by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL, on Flickr



Janaki Temple
by susilsaurav, on Flickr


The deities in the temple: Ram (center), Sita (right - wife of Ram), and Laxman (left- brother of Ram)

http://kishorkc.blogspot.com/



Janaki Mandir
by bzchrmr, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple is the most important Hindu shrine in Nepal, attracting hundreds of thousands of devotees every year. Regarded as the most sacred temple of Hindu Lord Shiva in the world, Pashupatinath Temple's existence dates back to 400 A.D. The richly-ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple, that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings'.
Via: http://nepal.saarctourism.org/

Taking cameras into the temple is prohibited, which makes it impossible to capture what the inside looks like. From my own personal visits, the temple complex includes smaller temples dedicated to a whole range of deities, with the main Shiva temple in the middle. The temple premises also includes the "Arya Ghat" which is one of the most important Hindu ghats aka cremation areas in Nepal. The river Bagmati flows along the ghat.


The largest structure on the right is the main temple, with a golden spire at the top.

Pashupati Temple
by anantal, on Flickr


www.explorehimalaya.com



Pashupati
by lewdcipher666, on Flickr


Picture of the temple complex from the other side of the Bagmati River, which has a small forest with tons of monkeys and deer. This area is open for tourists, while the main temple isn't open for non-Hindus.

Pashupati (Explored - HDR )
by ashishkoirala, on Flickr


Arya ghat: The burning pyres...it puts off a lot of people to go to such places but it is indeed very moving to be there.

Pashupati Nath
by bikedtraveller, on Flickr


Across the river from the main temple, there are several smaller temples including a Ram temple.

Pashupatinath Temple complex, Kathmandu
by gorbulas_sandybanks, on Flickr


Main puja aka prayer processions at night. The priests of Pashupatinath are not Nepalese. They come from southern India, which is a long standing tradition of goodwill between the two Hindu majority states.

Pashupati Arati
by kalishakti, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Rani Mahal

Ranimahal palace is a spectacular site. Built in 1892 AD/1949 BS by Commander-in-Chief and Governor Khadga Shamsher in memory of his beloved Queen Tej Kumari. The complex including a huge main building surrounded by layered gardens, stone walls and a small shrine, set on a massive rock bed at the bank of the rushing Kali Gandaki river. It is located in the Palpa District of Nepal.

Source: http://xplornepal.blogspot.com/



Ranighat
by deeps42, on Flickr



Ranimahal, Palpa
by deeps42, on Flickr



Ranimahal, Palpa
by deeps42, on Flickr



The Rani Mahal, Palpa
by Kirat_Hang, on Flickr



Ruins and renovated parts of Rani Ghat Durbar
by Plant.Hunter, on Flickr



http://500px.com/photo/17604079
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Singha Durbar

Singha Durbar, which literally means the Lion's Palace, was built in 1903 A.D., at the expense of 5 million Nepali rupees (1900 AD value) and was spread over 50 hectares of land. It was a private residence of the Maharaja Chandra Shumsher. The most amazing fact about Singha Durbar is that it was built in three short years. The palace, in 1904, claimed to be the biggest and most luxurious palace in Asia and until 1973 was the largest government secretariat in Asia.

Chandra Shumsher, after living for few years in the palace declared it the official residence of all prime ministers of Nepal after him and sold it for twenty million Nepali rupees. With the profit, he built nine more palaces in Kathmandu for his sons.

Singha durbar was occupied by successive Rana prime ministers until 1951. After this, the durbar became the government secretariat which boasted of housing every ministry within the same compound until the fateful day of July 4th, 1974 when the a fire gutted it. Most of the vast building was severely damaged.

Since then the whole area is gradually being rebuilt. The main concept of the rebuilding project is to bring together all those ministries which had to be removed to the rented spaces. It also served as the parliament of the erstwhile Kingdom of Nepal until 2005.

Source: http://www.spacesnepal.com/archives/mar_apr09/singha_durbar.htm

It is influenced heavily by European architecture despite the fact thatNepal was never colonized.

singha durbar
by tenzing-samdup, on Flickr


The road leading to the durbar

JMNB0011
by lightroomphotos, on Flickr


The entrance, with the statue of the unifier of Nepal, King Prithvi Narayan Shah in the front.

Singha Durbar Gate
by Ujjwol Lamichhane, on Flickr


The front of the durbar

http://www.consulat-nepal.org



http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com


One of the main halls

http://spacesnepal.com


The venue of Nepal's parliament when it was a constitutional monarchy.

http://mediastore4.magnumphotos.com



www.kurakaniz.com
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra:
The festival of "Gai Jatra", the procession of cows, is generally celebrated in the Nepalese month of Bhadra (August-September). The festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal. The whole complex of Gai Jatra festival has its roots in the ancient age when people feared and worshipped Yamaraj,"the god of death". However, the ironical sessions synonymous with the Gai Jatra festival came into tradition in the medieval period of Nepal during the reign of Malla Kings. Hence, the present form of Gai Jatra is a happy blending of antiquity and medievalism.

Another Gai Jatra procession through the streets of Kathmandu.According to the traditions since times immemorial, every family who has lost one relative during the past year must participate in a procession through the streets of Kathmandu leading a cow. If a cow is unavailable then a young boy dressed as a cow is considered a fair substitute. In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most venerated among all the domestic animals. It is believed that the cow, revered as a holy animal by Hindus, will help the deceased relative's journey to heaven.

In terms of historical evidences, once when King Pratap Malla lost his son, his wife, the queen remained dumbstruck. The king was very sad to see the condition of his beloved queen. The king, in spite of his several efforts, could not lessen the grief of his wife. By all means he wanted to see little smile on the lips of his sweetheart. He announced that someone who ever made the queen laugh would be rewarded adequately.

Gai Jatra procession at Basantapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu.During the festival of Gai Jatra, the cow procession was brought before the griefstricken queen. Then the participants began ridiculing and befooling the important people of the society. Finally when the social injustice and other evils were highlighted and attacked mercilessly, the queen could not stop smiling. The queen laughed, and Pratap Malla, the king ensued a tradition of including jokes, satires,mockery and lampoon in the Gai Jatra days.

Gaijatra participants having fun.After the procession is over, in the afternoon, nearly everyone takes part in another age-old tradition in which the participants dress up and wear masks. The occassion is filled with songs,jokes, mockery and humour of every kind become the order of the day until late evening. Hence, Gai Jatra is a healthy festival which enables the people to accept the reality of death and to prepare oneself for the life after death. According to Hinduism,"whatever a man does in his life is a preparation to lead a good life, after death".

Source: http://www.nepalhomepage.com


http://visitlalitpur.org.np


Making jokes and satires is part of the festival

http://www.demotix.com

Children dressed to represent cows and hermits

http://j-spot-deven.blogspot.com

People dress in many costumes and perform funny skits as well.

http://www.everestuncensored.org


A procession

http://aboutkathmandu.blogspot.com


More processions:

Gai jatra
by BAJRArt, on Flickr

A man dressed as the Hindu deity Vishnu

Vishnu Costume, Gai Jatra Festival Kathmandu
by roam if you want to, on Flickr



At the Gai Jatra festival
by wabs, on Flickr


Procession with the picture of family members who have died that year.

Untitled
by fourkicks, on Flickr



Gai JATRA @ Kirtipur
by Narayan Maharjan, on Flickr


Satire/jokes/goofing off are all part of the celebration. Here, guys dressed as girls perform for the crowd.

Gai Jatra
by Suren Stha, on Flickr


Overall, this festival is a way of moving on with life but still keeping the memories of those who we've lost. It marks the continuity of time and life in the face of grief and loss. I think this festival is amazing as it encourages us to cherish life while keeping in mind that death is imminent.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ranipokhari

Ranipokhari (literal translation: Queen's pond) is in the middle of Kathmandu. Built in 1667 AD by King Pratap Malla of Kathmandu, it was dedicated to his wife over the loss of their son. It is a Shiva temple and today, thousands of men without sisters throng to this place during the last day of the festival of Tihar (called Diwali in India), which is dedicated to strengthening bonds between sisters and brothers and is called Bhaitika. These men receive "tika" or special colors on their foreheads from women who do not have brothers of their own. It is opened once a year, during Bhaitika but has recently been used by those who celebrate the Chhath festival.


Rani Pokhari by © Jamie Mitchell, on Flickr



Rani Pokhari [standard 50 mm]
by yadavop, on Flickr



Rani Pokhari lake - Kathmandu Nepal
by temp13rec., on Flickr


Ranipokhari, with Ghantaghar (clock tower) at the back.

ranipokhari
by PIXshan, on Flickr



Rani Pokhari by Sijan Khadka, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Garden of Dreams

The Garden of Dreams, a neo-classical historical garden, is situated in the midst of Kathmandu city, Nepal. The Garden was famous as the garden of Six Seasons which was created by late Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher Rana (1892-1964) in early 1920. After the completion of this Garden, it was considered as one of the most sophisticated private gardens of that time. However, it was a private garden of Kaiser Sumsher, it was beautifully designed inspired by the famous Edwardian style. Kishore Narshingh, a prominent architect who designed and constructed Singha Durbar in 1907, designed and supervised the construction of the Garden of Dreams. Within the Garden walls, Kaiser Sumsher created an exquisite ensemble of pavillions, fountains, decorative garden furnitures and European inspired features such as varandas, pergolas, blustrades, urns and birdhouses. He erected six impressive pavillions, each dedicated to one of the six seasons of Nepal. These pavillions provided the Garden's architectural framework and lent a cosmopolitan flavor to the formal arrangement of flowers, shrubs and trees. Today, only half of the original garden is in existence.
www.gardenofdreams.org.np

PS- It is my favorite place in Kathmandu to get away from its hustle and bustle; it is an oasis of calm in a city that is so rushed!


Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu
by John S Y Lee, on Flickr



Garden Of Dreams, Kathmandu, Nepal
by Feng Wei Photography, on Flickr



Thamel-Garden-of-Dreams
by lavenderstreak, on Flickr



Garden of Dreams - Thamel - Kathmandu
by The way the light is, on Flickr



jan2007-july 2007 Nepal 243
by James Hogg, on Flickr



Thamel-Garden-of-Dreams
by lavenderstreak, on Flickr



Thamel-Garden-of-Dreams
by lavenderstreak, on Flickr



'The Garden of Dreams', Kathmandu
by twig-design, on Flickr



garden of dreams
by 3dom, on Flickr



garden of dreams
by 3dom, on Flickr



Thamel-Garden-of-Dreams-lily-pond
by lavenderstreak, on Flickr



Fire Dance @ Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu, Nepal
by Feng Wei Photography, on Flickr



The Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu
by twig-design, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Barahi Temple, Pokhara

Located on an island in Nepal's Phewa Lake in Pokhara, stands the Barahi Temple. Set in stunning surroundings, many find Barahi Temple a peaceful place to relax, especially after canoing across the glistening waters of Phewa Lake.

Phewa Lake is the second biggest in Nepal. It size measures in at 4 km by 1.5 km. The lake itself is a major attraction drawing those who enjoy water sports, families and those who simply love absorbing the beautiful scenery. The warm waters are inviting and ideal for a trip on a little wooden boat, which can be rented along the shoreline.

On this pleasant, lush island stands the 2 story pagoda of Barahi Temple. This Hindu temple in Nepal is dedicated to Ajima in the boar manifestation, representative of the force of Shakti. Shakti is the Hindu mother goddess who is the origin of universal creativity and power. Shakti as a feminine power assumes several roles. In the form of Durga, Shakti protects the gods from demons. Durga takes on the manifestation of Ajima in the form of a boar called Barahi to pierce her evil enemies with her pointed tusks. Barahi is pictured with the face of a boar with a cup in one hand and fish in the other. As such, Barahi Temple is a very important center of worship for the Hindu devotees. Tourists are likely to see worshipers making their way to the temple on Saturdays carrying male animals for sacrifice.
http://www.nepal.com/religious-sites/barahi-temple/


Barahi temple is located on an island in Lake Phewa, Pokhara

Barahi Temple Pokhara
by Red Panda Himalayan Adventure, on Flickr



Barahi Temple
by Debarshi Ray, on Flickr


The temple

Phewa Lake, Barahi Temple
by VJ Photos, on Flickr



Pokhara
by albert_8, on Flickr
 
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