Bhaktapur, calm in chaos!

Oil Lamps Outside Bhairawa Temple

Oil Lamps Outside Bhairawa Temple

The clamour of bells, drums and resonating vocals drowned the entire Taumadhi Square (City  Square). Flickering oil lamps, lit during the evening prayers, devoured the darkness created by the daily power outage – well the headlights of the two-wheelers passing through the square were of some help too. The singing group was in front of Bhairawa temple, that stood next to the big pyramidal Nyatapola Temple, which was also my vantage point for the duel that was about to begin.

Exterior of Bhairawa Temple

Exterior of Bhairawa Temple

They were in the middle of their song, when I saw the other group gathering right next to them. In no time, the second group started singing, not the same verse but something entirely different. I was not sure if it was a sing off. I wondered what the prize was, maybe an extended package in heaven… I wished I had earplugs!

People sat on the foot-high dance platform that lay in front of the temple. They were deep in trance. It dawned on me. The cacophony of conflicting songs was like radio channels caught in static, you just focussed on your choice of music. I found calm in chaos.

Bhairawa Temple and the Dance Platform in the City Square

View of Bhairawa Temple and the Dance Platform in Taumadhi Square from Nyatapola Temple

Like a relaxed Roman senator, in the Amphitheatre, I closed my eyes and thought of the evening.

Earlier, I was in Dattetreya Square, which had a market of fresh produce, day-to-day items and street snacks. Like any other South Asian City, it buzzed with coaxing calls of the vendors, and hissing of kerosene lamps that singed your nostrils, if you went too close.

Suddenly, the sight of crispy-fried-hollow puffs of flour or panipuri beckoned me. Perhaps, that was what I had come to Bhaktapur for?

“Hujoor”, greeted a woman, flashing her tobacco stained teeth, she offered me lava-filled panipuris that burned a gaping hole in my anatomy. Well they did warn me that Nepalese eat spicy food!

Not far from there, at several places in the street, were wooden platforms with grass-mats on them. These were the points where local old men gathered and discussed varied topics like politics or the day’s gossip like “how much milk my Buffalo produced!”  Life can be mundane when interactions are face-to-face and not via social media.

Men in Discussion Near Dattatreya Square

Men in Discussion Near Dattatreya Square

Silence settled in. Both the groups had finished their prayers.

I descended from my perch. By then, the sooty, oil lamps at Bhairawa Temple were the only beacon in the Taumadhi Square. I could imagine the city during Diwali, the festival of lights.

I sauntered towards my guesthouse through the unlit alleyways. I was not apprehensive of being mugged; in fact, I was more scared of possible paranormal encounter.

Later that night, when I tried to sleep, I thought I heard drums. It was a dull thumping. I pictured medieval Malla rulers in a street procession. May be, the city was haunted. I could not blame the dead. After all, Bhaktapur is poetry in form of terracotta bricks, stone masonry and wooden carvings; it is of a time when faith was enough to build a city!

 

Peacock Window Near Dattatreya Square

Peacock Window Near Dattatreya Square

Near Dattatreya Square

Near Dattatreya Square

A Street of Bhaktapur

A Street of Bhaktapur

View of City Square from Nyatapola Temple

View of City Square from Nyatapola Temple

A Temple Entrance at Bhaktapur

A Temple Entrance at Bhaktapur

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12 responses to “Bhaktapur, calm in chaos!

  1. Kedar Narayan Mohanty

    The description tempts a traveler for an early visit. Well written

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  2. Truly want to visit this area ~ wonderful post, the writing and photography drawing the mind into the world of Bhaktapur.

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    • Thanks Randall…Bhaktapur, infact the whole Kathmandu Valley, is steeped in history and culture.And the people are nice to a fault. You must visit Bhaktapur, it will fill your mind with wonder and inspiration.
      p.s – if you plan on visiting Nepal…let me know. I’ll be more than glad to send you some tips..:)

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      • Great, thank you Biswadarshan ~ it would be a wonder to see this area, and to get some tips would be ideal. Cheers!

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      • Always welcome Randall, Nepal is a complete package… adventure,culture,history and meditation…If you have a week or two to spare then you could undertake an adventure in Pokhra(Annapurna circuit)…if you have a month to spare Everest Base Camp. For scaling the Everest summit, you need atleast sic months of commitment.
        If you want to meditate and get in touch with your inner self…then Lumbini, Buddha’s birth place will be a brilliant retreat. If you just have a week or so to spare…I would recommend spending your time in Kathmandu Valley…it has 7 UNESCO World heritage sites and other sights. In the valley, you can soak up the local culture,history and food.
        Sorry my suggestions are not detailed…when you plan to visit let me know the duration,etc…i could give you more pointers.
        P.S – Kathmandu is very dusty and can be avoided in summer.

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      • I had an opportunity to hike to Everest base camp years ago while out in HK and didn’t ~ have regretted it ever since… Lumbini sounds perfect. Thank you very much and if I get a plan/time put together I will definitely let you know. Cheers Biswadarshan, appreciate your help very much!

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      • Always welcome…do hope you manage to get some time for your trip…:)

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  3. Birajini Patnaik

    Your writings are not only narrative but also impressive.Its nice of you to keep writing. Blessings

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  4. Bhaktapur is a truly amazing place. Did you try the ‘dahi’ (curd) over there? Its delicious. Supposed to be a local speciality.

    Liked by 1 person

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