Goodbye Basantapur

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Stepping away from Kumari Ghar, I was still thinking. When Kumari retires later, how does she live in society after only leaving Kumari Ghar once a year for a dozen years, how does she work until which man who is lucky to marry her…. Hmmhh.

My steps arrived at a wide plaza. Elongated white buildings with European architecture flanking the wide courtyard on the left and right, while in the middle, souvenir traders place their stalls.

Basantapur Dabali is a must-visit historical landmark.

Playing a role as the heart of Kathmandu, Basantapur had indeed been a meeting place for people from all over for politics and trading since Nepal was still a kingdom. Therefore Basantapur is always crowded until now.

For you as millennials, Basantapur provides many modern cafes to just hang out. Himalayan tea is also easy to find in this area. You can feel the deliciousness of Chiya (tea mixed with milk) in the cold air of Kathmandu.

Hunting for Himalayan Tea at one of the stalls.

Freak Street was a lane which looks quite busy with the existence of this iconic plaza. The charm of Basantapur Dabali hypnotized anyone to last a long time enjoying it. But the sun had slipped far, it was time for me to leave Basantapur to return to Thamel.

Sinha Swan Khala, a fairly busy religious institution in Freak Street.

Enjoying Kathmandu can’t be done by taking a taxi, make sure you keep going and enjoy the authentic Newar culture and architecture which is in every side of the city.

Now I was back in the streets of Layaku Marg. “Layaku” is another word for “Durbar Square”, while “Durbar Square” itself means “Palace Square”. It is true as it is, this Layaku Marg divides Basantapur and places the Royal Palace of Malla on its a side.

Layaku Marg towards Bishal Bazaar area.

Bishal Bazaar or Vishal Bazaar is a very famous shopping area in Kathmandu. Characterized by the existence of an old mall and Chinese Market. Bishal Bazaar may be the right place for fans of jewelry knick-knacks.

The Basantapur and Bishal Bazaar areas are bordered by the Sukra Path that begins with the Juddha Statue, a statue at the crossroads in honor of Nepal’s King Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana who played a major role in rebuilding his country from the severe damage caused by the Nepal earthquake in 1934.

Juddha Statue.
One side of the Sukra Path.

Before actually completing the trip to Thamel, I tried to enjoy the busy activities of local residents by entering a restaurant in the Sukra Path number

Vegetable Chow Mien for 150 Rupee.

That afternoon was my last evening in enjoying Kathmandu because the next day I would fly using Jet Airways 9W 0263 to the capital of India. Maybe tonight I won’t wander around much because I have to get ready to leave for Tribhuvan International Airport in the dark of the morning.

I arrived in Thamel and immediately checked-in online for my flight, tonight I’m only going out for a while to enjoy dinner.

Wow… Look that beautiful woman in the shampoo commercial.

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The Beauty of the Living Goddess in Kumari Ghar

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It was King Prithvi Narayan Shah who first in using the two-triangular flag when he succeeded in unifying all kingdoms in Nepal on 1768. Yes, two triangles on the Nepalese national flag represent two great dynasties which once existed in the Land of a Thousand Gods, namely the Shah Dynasty and the Rana Dynasty.

I found it everywhere.

Please, come!….Please, come!” a man told me to entering a shiny red brick building. European tourists and their tour guides who seem to know the reason why they come to this place seem to flock to entering the gate. I who haven’t saved any information, just rely on that man’s humble smile. A moment later I was inside.

The man in a gray jacket who was meritorious to brought me to the Goddess.

Another man inside greeted me, “Welcome to Kumari Ghar…The house of Kumari”. Kumari is a living goddess in Hindu and even Buddhist mythology. Kumari itself is a Sanskrit term which means “Princess”. Kumari is chosen by the head of Pandita and is considered the reincarnation of Goddess Taleju, the Goddess of Guardians of the City.

Chop up buffalo meat for tomorrow’s offering ceremony.

I kept eavesdropping on tour guide’s explanation to European travelers. It was said that the last king Malla often met in secret with Goddess Taleju who was asked to protect the kingdom. His wife who was suspicious, on a night followed the King when he was about to meet the Goddess. Suddenly the Goddess was angry because her whereabouts was revealed. But the Goddess was still kind enough to remain willing to protect the kingdom, but with one requirement, i.e by providing a girl as a reincarnation of her. Well, this girl was what I was going to see this time.

A side of 263 years old Kumari Ghar.

All eyes were on three black windows on top floor of Kumari Ghar. From there, Kumari will be displayed in a flash. The burly men seemed to be starting to spread out in all corners and their eyes were unblinking at us. Their faces swept across to all tourists in courtyard, they were careful to not to let any video highlights or camera captures pointed towards Kumari when it was shown later.

Curious to immediately see it.

The time came, everyone was silent as the window slowly opened. Kumari hadn’t come out yet, I didn’t blink for fearing of losing her appearance. Burly men below loudly shouted to other above, I didn’t know what they was reporting. Perhap condition were ready for Kumari to appeared in the window.

Two women rechecked condition below from above. A moment later, they gave a code to inside. An instant later, a beautiful girl who dressed in all red, crowned with gold sheets with a third eye on her forehead appeared in the window opening. Just a moment, less than half a minute.

Wooouwww“, a word which came out from all visitors and then they were busy whispering to their friends in their language. While I was still looking at the window which had been closed since earlier with a smile. It was crazy to be able to meet a goddess who was actually alive.

This is what Kumari looks like.

Following the belief, Kumari will finish being the reincarnation of Goddess Taleju when she is menstruating and will be replaced by a new Kumari. Kumari will be selected from three years old with very strict requirements such as no scars, no fear from masked men who dancing on the blood of slaughtered buffalo, she willn’t step on the ground as long as become Kumari and only come out just once a year, i.e in Bhoto Jatra ceremony, the festival to celebrating rainy season as well as harvest season.

This Nepali culture is magical….It’s amazing.

Madira at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square

Early morning….No doubt, I exchanged 1.000 Rupee with a pink-white ticket as an access to enjoying the history of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square.

Walking on andesite-covered Layaku Marg Street which looking gray color and the thin dust which thrown by the cleaning staff’s broomsticks, I was ready to entering ancient Nepal are which was still in the form of a kingdom.

The temple to worship “Goddess of Science” I passed passed and then I met a crowd of people who were busy burning incense, sowing flowers and then putting their palms together on their chests facing a black six-armed statue which was believed to be the embodiment of Lord Shiva the Destroyer.

Saraswati Temple.

Meanwhile, the incense traders in Indorapur Mandir courtyard made this area very crowded if was compared to other areas in Kathmandu Durbar Square. In harmony with a busyness of hundreds of pigeons were eating their breakfast which was given by travelers who have come first in this area.

Kaal Bhairav ​​with golden crown as embodiment of Lord Shiva.

Roof layers of all temples look the same and took me to Majapahit fiction atmosphere likely in Indonesian cinema. The atmosphere of Hindu Knights which was very thick that morning, was able to throw me for a moment from a world which was fanatical with technology.

Corn kernels were sold to pigeons.

The Royal Palace of Malla which was later used by Shah Dynasty was an important icon in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Because the statue of Lord Hanuman was guarded at front gate, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square. Some people call it as Basantapur Durbar Khsetra because this palace was located in Basantapur area.

That was the gate.

After gate, the spacious palace courtyard welcame. Known as Nasal Chowk. Nasal means dance, referring to Lord Shiva who danced Tandava Nataraja when destroying the obsolete universe. This plaza-like courtyard was surrounded by palace buildings on all four sides.

White building on west side of palace.

Meanwhile on south side of courtyard was a sign of a project funded by Ministry of Commerce of People’s Republic of China to renovated the palace which was badly damaged after a tectonic earthquake which was resulted from the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates in the Himalayas in 2015.

The Nine-story Basantapur Tower which has collapsed.
The room in which there was a statue of Lord Shiva who was dancing.
Sun Dial, the timepiece before clock invention.

Then, on north side, there was the architectural form of Newar with striking green windows. Nicknamed as Sisha Baithak which its functions as a work audience room. On the lower floor of this building, there were rows of king photos. And two palace guards were seen pacing with their rifles around this building.

From left were King Rana Bahadur Shah (third King of Nepal) and his son King Girbanayuddha Bikram Shah (fourth King-pictured at right)
With Guard Police at Sisha Baithak before leaving the palace.

I left the palace while throwing my thanks and goodbye to Guard Police. Suddenly his friend who had just arrived said to him in Nepali, I guess it reads “Where is he from?”, because the policeman who I took the photo with said simply “Indonesia”.

One tip when you are in Kathmandu Durbar Square area is to try to understand one by one buildings which you pass, because every building there has an amazing function and historical value.

Again I found a unique building. A temple which studded with Shwet Bhairav ​​which was believed to be the most powerful embodiment of Lord Shiva. Hidden in wooden curtains and waiting for the Indrajatra Festival to fully reveal itself to the people of Newar. When the festival arrived, Madira (alcohol) will be emitted from his mouth as a form of blessing for humans.

Shwet Bhairav.

It was noon….The sun was now starting to penetrate every gap in the square, warming my body which had been exposed to the cold since morning. It was time to move on to next destination.

Next I would show you the beauty of a goddess in Hindu and Buddhist mythology in Nepal.

Yups….Follow me!