A Flight of Fantasy
Morning light streaked through the apex of Dattatreya temple. Slurping hot, sugary tea, I sat on a corner of Dattatreya Square, watching a dog that was stuck in its puppy hood – it ran amidst a flock of pigeons trying to catch the fluttering birds.
Meanwhile, in rest of Bhaktapur, devout women worshipped flat stones that laid in front of their houses with flowers and food. These offerings were a favourite with local fauna like feral pigeons, stray poultry and dogs.
“The stones represent Kul Devata (family deities)”, one shopkeeper had explained.
Women also placed offerings at various street corners and places… those might have been statues of Gods that fell during the 1934 earthquake. Durbar Square or Palace Square had lost a third of its monuments and buildings in the same earthquake.
Durbar square housed the palace of Malla Kings. The palace had been converted to a museum and it housed Taleju Temple (Goddess Durga) and Kumari Chowk (Living Goddess’ residence). The square became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
Griffins or Garudas Engulfed in Smoke
A pair of Griffins sat on guard at the southern entrance of Changu Narayan Temple. Their piercing eyes were unfazed by ritualistic smoke that engulfed them. Stone steps, which separated them, led to a door with a gilded torana. An ornate triangular oil lamp holder hung between these creatures. Elephants, Lions and Sharabhas (similar to griffins) guarded other three sides of the shrine. Oil lamp railings, intercepted by four-entrances, ran around the perimeter of the structure.
Changu Narayan Temple
The two storeyed wooden-temple was oldest in Nepal and was established in 4th century A.D. It displayed elaborate wooden and stone carvings of Vishnu and his ten incarnations, other Gods, Demi-Gods and mythical creatures. I was not surprised to learn that this temple was a UNESCO World Heritage site.
My unplanned day began, not with the serenity that I witnessed at the shrine. I waited at the precincts of Bhaktapur, to take the 6-kilometre long bus ride to Changu Narayan Village. This was my first bus ride outside the bus, rather on top of it. It had been an hour. The dusty bus stop had accumulated at least a score of commuters. I just hoped that they all were awaiting different rides.