After a couple of days settling in Thamel and getting our bearings we hopped in a cab that took us to Patan for the day. Patan is about a 15-20 minute taxi ride from Thamel and is another district of Kathmandu.One thing to note whilst using taxis, always barter with the driver first to fix a price before you hop in the vehicle, they don’t use meters and because you are a tourist they will charge what they think they can get away with. Your fare within the Kathmandu city should only cost about 200 Rupees (£2 or $3). These taxis are every where and they drivers are usually trying to find their next customer which can be a real pain in the bum when walking down the street and you’ll pretty much get at least five drivers shouting from their window “Taxi?! For good price!”
Arriving in Patan, I was a little underwhelmed, not with it’s ancient history but with the area in general, it is not very well kept to the point it had lost it’s charm and well it just wasn’t my favourite place to visit whilst in Nepal. The Durbar Square is very similar to the one in Thamel only dirtier and so many bored locals loitering about and dropping litter & spitting doesn’t make for grandeur when trying to enjoy the stunning architecture. However Patan is known for it’s rich cultural heritage and with it’s arts & craft. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue. Sadly the city received extensive damage from an earthquake on 25 April 2015 and numerous ancient temples were either severely damaged or completely destroyed.
According to Wikipedia The city was initially designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra (Wheel of Righteousness). The four thurs or mounds on the perimeter of Patan are ascribed around, one at each corner of its cardinal points, which are popularly known as Asoka Stupas. Legend has it that Emperor Asoka (the legendary King of India) visited with his daughter Charumati to Kathmandu in 250 BC and erected five Asoka Stupas, four in the surrounding and one at the middle of the Patan. The size and shape of these stupas seem to breathe their antiquity in a real sense. There are more than 1,200 Buddhist monuments of various shapes and sizes scattered in and around the city. Patan’s Durbar Square is a UNESCO world heritage site and many of the temples are beautifully carved, if you do visit, I highly recommend getting really close to the walls of the temples and stupas in order to see some of the rich designs and markings.
Away from the main square,as suggested by Lonely Planet you can take a short walk around the neighborhood, it is safe (even if it doesn’t look it) and you’ll find smaller charming statues of gods and stupas, a group of Nepali men leisurely playing a local game or stumble upon a street vendor cooking MoMos, which you must try! The veggie MoMo’s are the best we have ever tasted during our stay in Nepal.
I was really glad to have seen Patan, considering I am a history & culture geek it is nice to see different aspects to a country. There are a number of places to visit within Patan such as ‘The Golden Temple’and the House of the Kumari which is a Courtyard and house of Patan’s Living Goddess.
However if like us you plan to see more in Kathmandu and visit Bhaktapur then Patan is probably best left as an easy day trip to catch a glimpse of the ancient temples. We did stay here until the evening though and I think it is the twilight colours of the sky that really bring a sense of awe to the sqaure, making it a truly spectacular site that reminds you, you are a long way from home and what a glorious feeling that is!
In case you missed it, here is the Thamel write up.
Next up I will blog about Bhaktapur
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