Patan

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Patan. 31 August 2013, 1 September.

Patan’s just a 20 minute taxi ride from Kathmandu. We hope to stay at a Guest House that turns out to be closed, apparently just for today. We recommended instead to the utterly wonderful Newa Chen - a beautifully restored Newari house with a few exquisite rooms that combine Newari style with simple Japanese futon style. Black floorboards, woven rush mats, white walls, carving everywhere and doorways made for someone 5’6” - so mind your head! Newa Chen is about 100 metres from Durbar Square, which, again you have to pay to enter. At night we watch football in the restaurant: Nepal 2 Bangladesh 0, the game is being played tonight in Kathmandu and the waiters are appropriately partisan.

The old name for Patan is Lalitpur and this name seems to be coming back into common usage. It’s an absolute gem of a place, compared to Kathmandu it’s relatively unchanged. The pace of life is slower and the backstreets are alive with traditional crafts, most of the Nepalese Buddha statues you see for sale all over India are made in the backsteets of Patan. Some of the statues of Buddha deities in the shop windows are truly awesome.

The people of Patan seem relaxed and happy. When I went for an early morning walk in the morning three men and a woman were playing a quick game of badminton in the courtyard by the hotel. In the courtyard of a nearby Hindu hotel, brahmin priests sit waiting to mark your forehead with a tikka and tie red threads around your wrist. There is singing and dancing and a festival at one if the temples on the Durbar Square. All the main sites are worth visiting, the stepwells are a delight for a self confessed fan of stepwells, the Bhimsu temple on the Durbar Square is very strange, the Royal Palace is magnificent - and it’s all in easy walking distance. In fact Patan is tiny and simply full of wonderful sites and sights. I buy a tiny broze temple lion from a man we watch casting component parts for a large statue, it’s dirty work, casting in oily sand, but he makes a cast every minute and must be on piece work.

Next time we’ll stay in Patan and visit Kathmandu, rather than the other way round.


2 September. It’s our last full day and we have a mission to make contact with someone at a monastery called Namobuddha, about 90 minutes drive. We take the road out past Dhulikel in low cloud and light rain. We have luck beyond imagination. We ask a group of monks if they know of a monk by a certain name. One of the monks replies “Are you Peter?” It seems impossible but we’ve addressed the second head lama who seems to know we were coming. How, I don’t know. We have a tour of the monastery and get some paperwork which will be invaluable to a Tibetan back in England.

3 September 2014. There are shawls to be bought and posted home; for old time’s sake we look in at the famous Kathmandu Guest House which still seems a pretty cool place to stay. Goodbyes at the Utse, Diki and Ugen place a khatak round my neck and we take photos in the doorway. Lovely people.

En route to the airport we eat at Kancha’s house and meet his family and delightful, clever daughter. Then its time to go. We have an evening flight and wake up the next day back in the UK.


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