Home > Nepal > 14th November – Witnessing a cremation and discovering the sites of Kathmandu Valley

14th November – Witnessing a cremation and discovering the sites of Kathmandu Valley

The early start we wanted didn’t really happen. Quite tired this morning as we didn’t sleep well and got a bit of the cold. The room also smelt of kerosine I thought or paint stripper but Julie didn’t think so.

The plan for the day is to visit four UNESCO sites, we dis three yesterday. We had breakfast at Hot Breads, stuffingbour faces with croissant, apple danish and a doughnut with hot chocolate. As Del Boy would say, lovely jubbly. We then sourced a car for the day which we paid 3000 NPR (£24).

Our first stop was BOUDHANATH. 200 NPR to get inside.

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This is one of the holiest Buddhists site in Kathmandu. It’s about 11km from the centre and it hosts a stupa which is one of the largest in the world and everyday receives an influx of refugees from Tibet.

This stupa is similar to the one we saw in Swayanbunath yesterday. This monument is magnificent in every way. The way it dominates the skyline, it’s painted enchanting eyes looking at your every step wherever you are within this vasinity and ofcourse the prayer flags strewn from one side on the outside to the tip of the stupa, meeting other flags.

We witnessed the blessing of the stupa. Workers use buckets of saffron water to pour onto the Stupa and Julie bought a bag of saffron for 50NPR, poured it into a large bucket and stirred it for it to be used later.

During our visit, we also saw a parade or ceremony where monks chant in a room and also parade around the Stupa.

The monks wore a headgear similar to the ones worn by the Romans back in the day. They looked elegant in their orange and maroon robes.

After witnessing such a parade by the monks we then went to PASHUPATTIHAN , Nepal’s holiest Hindu pilgrimage site. Entry was 150 NPR.

At the gates we were approached by guides who brand themselves as students, trying to charge you 200 NPR to show you around. A guide would have been nice but they could be telling us any bullshit and we wouldn’t know any better. We always decline and used our books and leaflets to guide us.

For all the temples and monuments this place hold, it’s a very sad sight where you see people being cremated. This is a place where you have to have respect for all grieving and the Hindu religion.

We were wary about seeing dead bodies but it’s part of the experience we craved for and see how the locals live. Sometimes we might not agree with what they do and how they behave but it’s part of understanding their behaviour.

When we arrived, a woman was about to be cremated . They went through the funeral procession where the sons or male members of the family placed the body on a slanted curb by the river and everyone attending this cremation paid their respects.

The face was visible and each person had their turn in either putting flowers on the body or poured a handful of water onto the dead persons face or both. Before they paid their respect, they washed their hands and feet in the river and proceeded.

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It was a very sombre moment, hearing the haunting cries of the females of the dead person was difficult. Some were unable to say goodbye, they quivered by the body and lots of people wept. People including tourists all gathered around to watch. Even some tourists wept, it was too emotional and made me appreciate the travels we were currently doing and how short life was. This was an experience I would never forget.

Had a tear in my eye as I felt for the family and couldn’t imagine what they were going through but felt for their pain and sorrow. I prayed for the family and may she rest in peace and also thoughts went back to my own family and friends, I also prayed for them.

We didn’t see the person being put onto the logs of wood but not far from where the ceremony being held, maybe 50 meters away was a body being cremated with the logs on fire.

We also saw a few Sadhus, these are dreadlocked holy men that wander around temples. These holy men know their value to tourists so they ask for money in return for a photograph. We paid 10 NPR.

We then headed to CHANGU NARAYAN which was about 30 mins drive from Pashputtinath, cost of entry is 100 NPR per person. This Hindu temple is situated on a mountain further west from Thamle. We spent about an hour there and then headed to Baktapur which is the cultural capital of Nepal.

BAKTAPUR is incredibly huge, we paid 1100 NPR to enter, which is very expensive. We had not budgeted for it.

We strolled within this city admiring the well carved wooden structures. Some temples you were not allowed in if youbare not a hindu. We spent couple of hours walking throughbits narrow roads and watching local people trade-in markets and also kids arriving from school.

It seems like the kids in Nepal well Kathmandu go to school every single day. The Sunday we arrived, there were some in school. Hope they’re working hard. Most people we came across spoke English. In Cambodia I was referred to as Mr Obama and in Nepal, I was being called Mr Mandela.

After a long day of touring and not even having lunch, we went back to Thamel to sort out our transport to Pokhara and decide what trek to do.

We paid for our stay at Madhuban hotel as we didn’t want any complications in the morning just incase no one was up. The staff enthusiasm to help had waned as we had not booked and trips or treks with them. You would not believe how welcoming they were when we arrived, at one point thought they might do an Eddie Murphy “Coming to America” with me wiping my backside or “your royal…..is clean”.

Slept ok in our kerosene smelly room, i’m certain I’m flammable at the moment.

En français:

On n’a pas très bien dormi cette nuit alors on ne pète pas la forme. Et pourtant on a un programme charge.

On commence la journée avec vienniseries et chocolat chaud sur la terrasse de Hot Breads, une boulangerie de Thamel. On apperice beaucoup d’autant plus que le soleil est de la partie.

Ensuite, on va dans une agence de voyage/trekking pour savoir combien coute un taxi pour la journée. Au final, ils nous organisent une voiture pour toute la journée pour 3000 roupies, moins cher que de prendre un taxi entre chaque destination, parfait!

On quitte Thamel a 9h30, on loupe encore une fois notre départ de bonne heure.
On fait la route jusqu’à Boudhanat, THE stupa de Kathmandu. Elle a aussi a les yeux peints mais c’est d’autant plus impressionant que tout le reste est blanc et qu’elle est plus grande aussi. Ici aussi on fait un premier tour dans le sens des aiguilles d’une montre. Ensuite, on grime un étage pour faire notre second tour. Enfin, on fait notre troisième tour en suivant les employés de la stupa jeter le jus de safran tout autour. Nous avons acheté un petit sac de safran pour 50 roupies, on l’ajoute au jus et on touille comme ça ils ont du jus tout frais a jeter!

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Ensuite, on redescend et on va dans un temple alentour pour avoir une vue en hauteur. On a de la chance il y a une cérémonie en cours avec des moines qui portent des sortes de bonnets phrygiens. Ils font le tour de la stupa en chantant le mantra 108 fois.

Après Boudhanath, on part direction Pashupatinath, un temple hindu au bord d’une rivière. Quand on arrive, on assiste a une création en direct. C’est assez choquant mais c’était intéressant de voir les traditions. La femme qui était décédée était vêtue des ses habits de mariage. Elle était allongee sur une pierre au bord de l’eau et recouverte d’un tissu couleur safran. Ils ont commence par déposer des poudres très colorées: rose fuchsia, orange etc tout autours d’elle. Ensuite ils l’ont mis sur une pierre qui était en pente vers la rivière. La ils lui on t découvert le visage et les membres de la famille déposait des colliers de fleurs oranges, du riz, des poudres et de l’eau bénite. Ensuite, ils ont bouge le corps sur la première pierre et ont remis plus de fleurs oranges. Enfin, ils déposent le corps sur un bucher, font le tour plusieurs fois et mettent le feu. Nous ne sommes pas restes pour toute la durée car on ne le sentait pas trop. On a continue la visite du temple un peu plus haut.

La prochaine étape de notre journée dans la vallée était Changu Narayan, un temple situe dans les hauteurs près de Bhaktapur. Le temple est très peu visite donc ça faisait du bien d’être loin de la foule. On ne reste pas très longtemps car ce n’est pas très grand mais on a beaucoup aime.

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Et notre dernier arrêt aujourd’hui est Bhaktapur, la capitale culturelle du Nepal. L’entree coute 1100 roupies, presque quatre fois le prix des autres mais on comprend vite pourquoi. C’est toute la ville qui est a visiter et non pas seulement Durbar Square. On passe des heures dans les ruelles a prendre des photos et aussi sur les trois principales places de la ville.

On reprend la voiture et on rentre a Thamel. On est bien contents de notre journée.

Une fois rentres, on cherche des billets de bus pour Pokhara au centre du pays, la base pour les teks dans l’Annapurna. On achète nos billets pour 400 roupies chacun. Ensuite, on vadrouille un peu a la recherche de t-shirts souvenirs.

On dine tôt au Bamboo café et on rentre a la guesthouse faire nos sacs été se coucher. Demain réveil a 5h!

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