Indra Chowk before Kathmandu Durbar Square

Got ready for breakfast….

Unusually, a slightly luxurious breakfast had been prepared on the top floor of Shangrila Boutique Hotel. Fried rice sprinkled with diced buffalo meat, two slices of sausage and a sheet of beef eye egg. Two layers of toast with a sheet of cheese were also prepared. Then they closed with a cup of hot black coffee.

A full stomach and I was ready to enter the past Nepalese glory that will be implied in every inch of area in Kathmandu Durbar Square, one of three famous Durbar Square in Nepal. “Durbar” itself means “palace”. So actually Durbar Square is a palace square in general.

Walking in Amrit Marg, the warm morning sun eased my steps when I must defeat 9 degrees Celcius air which was still reluctant to move up. While coughing had inhabited my throat since a day ago due to dust which continued to be uncontrollably inhaled. “It’s okay, tomorrow I fly to New Delhi, surely air will be cleaner there,” I thought to calm myself. This belief kept Ambroxol tablets which I brought from Jakarta still intact.

Now I was starting to enter a number of narrow intricate turns. Andesite-floor streets lined with a row of sun-blocking shophouses and spreading of irregular signboards. Even in Jyatha Marg, it was decorated by the very tangled knotted strands of electric cables.

Nepalese electric officer must be adept at dealing with electrical damage.
Gemitir flower trader on the edge of Chandraman Singh Marg.

It was time to step out at last intersection before entering the famous Indra Chowk area. It was 10 a.m. but shops along Chandraman Singh Marg were still closed. Meanwhile, motorbikes which were passing could be counted in a matter of fingers.

Pedicabs which started their services.
Tasting boiled peanuts.

A few steps, the area which I headed for was in front of my eyes, intersection of five streets with very high activity. The rumble of morning trading which stunned me to observe it from a intersection side. This was Indra Chowk, an area which for centuries had been a famous trading center in Kathmandu district. Anyone who wanted to hunt for Nepalese clothes, souvenirs or tasting local food then just came here!

Pedicab base at Indra Chowk.

Entering intersection area from north side via Chandraman Singh Marg, I could see other four roads which made up the intersection, namely Siddhidas Marg (from Northeast), Watu Marg, Sukra Path, and Siddhidas Marg (from Southwest). All five lead to a broad circle with an iconic view of Aakash Bhairav ​​temple.

Aakash Bhairav yang bersejara The historic Aakash Bhairav ​​became Nepal’s first king’s palace.

Stepping back, away from the noise of Indra Chowk while holding Dhaka Topi which I bought from a shophouse, a less crowded street greeted me again.

Siddhidas Marg.

On this street, there was an interesting spot. Public knew it as Makhan Tole. A famous art spot in Kathmandu. There were many fine arts works here and of course many travelers chase them.

Makhan Tole Gate.

From Makhan Tole, it only took 5 minutes walking to Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Finally I arrived.

Let’s explore what were in Kathmandu Durbar Square …….

Wrong Seat in Pokhara-Kathmandu Tourist Bus

Mr. Tirtha still accompanied me to speak, we leaned back in his tiny taxi while observing the bustle around Tourist Bus Park. Several hawkers took turn getting on and off in all small sized-buses offering their wares.

A while later, Mr. Tirtha widely spread his arms and we lightly hugged as a substitute for saying “thank you and see you later”. I entered a bus on half an hour before departure. It would be better because Mr. Tirtha could immediately continue work with his taxi.

The conductor showed me a seat where I should sit. At second row behind driver which was limited by a glass screen. Now situation became tense, when an Indian spouse argued with the conductor. They felt were aggrieved because a ticket agent in Kathmandu had promised them to giving them a front seat. The conductor casually snapped back, “This is Pokhara, Not Kathmandu”. Instantly situation was silence. I just realized, that spouse wanted my seat…. Hahaha, even though I was asked to exchange, I didn’t refuse either. Seriously.

Three European tourists in the front seat near driver had fun playing cards the whole way.

Three and a half hours after departure on 7 am, bus stopped for breakfast break for 20 minutes after an hour earlier, bus had once done 15 minutes of toilet break. Hotel’s breakfast which Mr. Raj prepared on the last morning seemed quite effective for me to didn’t spend any consumption budget this time. Come on!, let me showed you how the restaurant which I stopped at:

Buffet eating!
That was the cost.
The hat which used by the cashier was called as Dhaka Topi.
Yups, I still full….Just drank a coffee.

I felt hungry at lunch break on 1:30 p.m., enjoying a thali (Indian wide plate) of food which I picked up from buffet table for 400 Rupee and drink a free-orange juice which was given to all passengers since our  departure in Pokhara.

For free….
I got on the white one.

My watch pointed to 15:34 hours. The last toilet break was the most memorable part. Taking the time to explore area around the rest area. I moved towards a side of road and enjoyed panoramic view of valley and ravine below.

Most trucks in Nepal are Tata Motor.

Impressed with situation on a side of road, I entered a small alley and saw a glimpse of local residents activities who living on a side of road. Observing a banner which stucked in a concrete wall, I tried to slightly open an outer skin of Nepal’s politics.

Nepal is a parliamentary republic which has four main political parties. The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) became the winning party in Nepal which placed two important figures, namely Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli as Prime Minister and Bidhya Devi Bhandari as President of the country.

That’s the symbol of CPN.

Back in bus seat, this time, my journey encountered a terrible traffic jam when it descended the last hill nearing Kathmandu border. Looked like a traffic jam in Cianjur on the weekend (Cianjur is tourist destination near my home).

The bus arrived in Kanti Path Road on 17:08 hours. Excessive fatigue persuaded me to immediately looked for Shangrila Boutique Hotel in Thamel area. I walked through many narrow alleys and asking to local people to find the location. Only walking for 20 minutes, I finally found the hotel.

I handed over 2.300 Rupee as the rate of staying per night. This time, I would spend 2 nights in Kathmandu to enjoy the city.

Indra Chowk sebelum Kathmandu Durbar Square

Bersiap sarapan.

Tak seperti biasanya, santapan pagi sedikit mewah telah disiapkan di lantai teratas Shangrila Boutique Hotel. Nasi goreng bertabur potongan dadu daging kerbau, dua potong sosis dan selembar telur mata sapi. Masih pula disiapkan dua lapis toast berselai selembar keju. Kemudian ditutup dengan secangkir kopi hitam panas.

Perut kenyang dan aku siap memasuki kejayaan Nepal masa lalu yang akan tersirat pada tiap jengkal area di Kathmandu Durbar Square, satu diantara tiga Durbar Square terkenal di Nepal. “Durbar” sendiri berarti “istana”, sementara “square” berarti “alun-alun”. Jadi sebenarnya Durbar Square adalah alun-alun istana pada umumnya.

Membilang di Amrit Marg, hangatnya mentari pagi meringankan langkah ketika harus menembus suhu 9 derajat yang masih saja enggan beranjak naik. Sementara batuk telah menghuni tenggorokan sejak sehari lalu akibat debu yang terus terhisap tak terkendali. “Tak apa, besok aku terbang menuju New Delhi, pasti udara akan lebih bersih disana”, batinku menenangkan diri. Keyakinan itu membuat Ambroxol yang kubawa dari Jakarta masih saja utuh.

Kini aku mulai memasuki sejumlah tikungan rumit sempit. Jalanan berlapis andesit dengan deret ruko penghadang surya dan bertabur signboard tak beraturan. Bahkan di bilangan Jyatha Marg diperparah dengan untaian kabel listrik yang bersimpul sangat kusut.

Petugas PLN Nepal pasti mahir menangani kerusakan listrik.
Penjual bunga Gemitir di tepian Chandraman Singh Marg.

Tiba saatnya melangkah di perempatan terakhir sebelum memasuki area terkenal Indra Chowk. Waktu sudah jam 10 pagi tetapi pertokoan di sepanjang Chandraman Singh Marg masih saja tutup. Sementara itu, sepeda motor yang berlalu-lalang tercacah dalam hitungan jari..

Pengayuh becak yang beranjak mengais rezeqi.
Mencicip kacang rebus.

Beberapa dasa langkah, area yang kusasar ada di depan mata, simpang lima dengan kesibukan sangat tinggi. Gemuruh perniagaan pagi yang membuatku tertegun mengamatinya di suatu sisi. Inilah Indra Chowk, area yang selama berabad-abad telah menjadi sentra perdagangan tersohor di distrik Kathmandu. Siapa saja yang ingin berburu pakaian khas Nepal, souvenir untuk dibawa pulang ataupun merasakan aneka makanan lokal, maka datanglah kesini!

Pangkalan becak di Indra Chowk.

Memasuki area simpang lima dari sisi utara melalui Chandraman Singh Marg, aku bisa melihat keempat jalan lain sebagai penyusun simpang yaitu Siddhidas Marg (dari Timur Laut), Watu Marg, Sukra Path, dan Siddhidas Marg (dari Barat Daya). Kelimanya bermuara pada lingkaran luas dengan pemandangan ikonik kuil Aakash Bhairav.

Aakash Bhairav yang bersejarah menjadi istana raja pertama Nepal.

Melangkah kembali, menjauhi kebisingan Indra Chowk sembari mencangking Dhaka Topi yang kubeli ketengan, jalanan yang tak begitu ramai kembali menyambut.

Abege di  Siddhidas Marg….Manis ya?….Hahaha.

Di jalan inilah terdapat satu spot menarik. Khalayak mengenalnya sebagai Makhan Tole. Spot kesenian terkenal di Kathmandu. Karya seni rupa banyak dijumpai disini dan tentu banyak pelancong yang memburunya.

Gerbang Makhan Tole.

Dari Makhan Tole, hanya memerlukan 5 menit berjalan kaki menuju Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Akhirnya aku sampai juga.

Yuk kita eksplore apa saja yang ada di Kathmandu Durbar Square ini…….

Salah Bangku di Tourist Bus Pokhara-Kathmandu.

Mr. Tirtha masih saja menemaniku berbincang, kami berdua berdiri bersandar di taksi mungilnya sembari mengamati kesibukan di sekitar Tourist Bus Park. Beberapa pedagang asongan silih berganti naik turun di seluruh bus berukuran tiga perempat menawarkan dagangannya.

Sewaktu kemudian, Mr. Tirtha  merentangkan tangannya lebar dan kami berpeluk ringan sebagai pengganti ucapan “terimakasih dan sampai jumpa”. Aku sengaja memasuki bus setengah jam sebelum keberangkatan. Akan lebih baik karena Mr. Tirtha bisa dengan segera melanjutkan mencari nafkah dengan taksinya.

Si kondektur menunjukkanku tempat dimana aku harus duduk. Baris kedua dibelakang sopir yang dibatasi sekat kaca. Kini pemandangan menjadi tegang, ketika sepasang suami istri India beradu mulut dengan si kondektur. Sejoli itu merasa dirugikan karena agen tiket di Kathmandu menjanjikan bangku paling depan buat mereka. Si kondektur dengan santainya balik menggertak, “This is Pokhara, Not Kathmandu”. Seketika suasana hening. Aku baru sadar, sejoli itu mengincar bangkuku….Hahaha, padahal jika disuruh tuker aku juga tak menolak. Ada-ada saja.

Europeans di depan itu seru bermain kartu sepanjang perjalanan.

Tiga setengah jam setelah keberangkatan pukul 7 pagi, bus berhenti untuk breakfast break selama 20 menit setelah sejam sebelumnya bus sudah sekali melakukan 15 menit toilet break. Sarapan yang diberikan Mr. Raj di pagi hari nampaknya cukup efektif bagiku untuk tak mengeluarkan budget konsumsi apapun kali ini. Yuk, kuperlihatkan bagaimana restoran tempatku berhenti:

Makan prasmanan aja ya!
Itu tarifnya.
Kopyah yang dipakai kasir itu bernama Dhaka Topi.
Ah masih kenyang….Ngopi aja lah.

Aku baru merasa kelaparan pada lunch break pukul 13:30,  menikmati se-thali (piring lebar khas India) makanan yang kuambil dari meja prasmanan seharga  Rp. 52.000 dan sebuah free-orange juice yang diberikan pada semua penumpang sejak pemberangkatan di Pokhara.

Lumayan free….  
Aku naik yang warna putih.

Jarum jam menunjuk pukul 15:34. Toilet break terakhir kali ini menjadi bagian paling berkesan.  Kumanfaatkan waktu dengan menelusuri area di sekitar tempat peristirahatan. Aku bergerak menuju tepian jalan dan menikmati panorama lembah dan jurang dibawahnya.

Kebanyakan truk di Nepal adalah Tata Motor.

Tergeletik dengan kehidupan di pinggiran jalan, aku memasuki sebuah gang kecil dan melihat sekelumit aktivitas warga lokal yang hidup di pinggiran jalan. Mengamati sebuah spanduk yang tertempel di sebuah sisi tembok beton, aku mencoba sedikit membuka kulit luar perpolitikan di Nepal.

Nepal adalah negara berbentuk republik parlementer yang memiliki empat partai politik utama. Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) menjadi partai pemenang di Nepal yang menempatkan dua tokoh pentingnya yaitu Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli sebagai Perdana Menteri dan Bidhya Devi Bhandari sebagai  Presiden negara tersebut.

Itu dia lambang CPN.

Kembali berada di bangku bus, perjalanan kali ini mengalami kemacetan luar biasa ketika menuruni bukit terakhir menjelang perbatasan Kathmandu. Layaknya kemacetan di Cianjur saat weekend tiba.

Bus merapat di Kanti Path pada pukul 17:08. Kelelahan yang teramat sangat membujukku untuk segera menemukan Shangrila Boutique Hotel di area Thamel. Aku menelusuri banyak gang-gang sempit dan menanyakan kepada penduduk lokal untuk menemukan lokasinya. Hanya berjalan selama 20 menit, akhirnya penginapan itu kutemukan.

Kuserahkan Rp. 280.000 sebagai tarif menginap per malam. Kali ini aku akan bermalam 2 petang di Kathmandu untuk menikmati wisata kota.