Two trips today-
Our first visit was to the village of Kirtipur (pronounced Keer-t-purr) about 5 Klm South West of Kathmandu. This is a nice quiet place located on a hill over-looking the valley.
There is a Thai style Wat (Buddhist Monastery) to the left as you approach the village - it looks a bit out of place given the predominance of Hindu Temples and Tibetan Stupa and Gompa everywhere else.
At the top of the village there are a number of interesting Temples:-
1. The Bagh Bhairab Temple which has a number of swords (Tulwars), helmets and shields attached to the upper part of the structure. These were captured from the Kirtipur defenders by the army of King Prithvi Narayan Shah when they successfully attacked the Town in 1768.
Apparently once the town was conquered by the King he had the noses (& some say lips) of every male inhabitant cut off in retribution for the ferocity of their resistance.
Sacrifices are carried out here two mornings per week, as evidenced by the number of flies buzzing around a couple of spots within the Temple grounds.
There are a couple of schools in the area and whilst we where there two teachers and a group of boys and girls were using the temple area as a noisy, happy playground.
2. Adjacent to the Bagh Bhairab is a square with a largish water tank surrounded by houses previously occupied by the royal family of Kirtipur. There is a white washed Narayan Temple over-looking the tank.
Unfortunately the tank itself has a problem with algae and the water is a uniform dark green colour, disturbed only by a few ducks and a collection of plastic drink bottles and other rubbish.
3. Further up hill past a nice Ganesh shrine is another pagoda style temple that can be reached via a steep set of stone stairs. This is the Uma Maheshwar Temple which was originally built in 1673.
It apparently had four roofs up until the big earthquake of 1934 reduced this to the existing three.
A nice building in any case, with the front being flanked by two stone elephants, one depicted as trampling some unfortunate character. Both elephants wear spiked metal saddles so any idea of climbing on them is out of the question!
There is a bell on this Temple also and it is marked as having been made in Croydon in 1895 - obviously a much newer addition that the original building.
There is also a Buddhist Vihara in the village (was built in 1515) but we missed it completely and I only realised when I looked at the Lonely Planet once we got back to our Hotel - dammit!
Another kilometre or so out of town is Chobar (sometimes called Chovar) Village, also overlooking parts of Patan & Kathmandu from its hilltop location.
Our first stop-off point was the Jal Binayak Temple adjacent to the Chobar Gorge. This gorge allows the Bagmati River to drain from the Kathmandu Valley.
Legend has it that the Valley was once a lake and the Swayambhunath Stupa hill was an island within it. The Buddhist deity Manjushri used his sword to cut the valley wall, creating Chobar gorge in the process and releasing the water.
The Temple itself if very interesting with a number of natural rock formations within it obviously being venerated. The roof struts include erotic figures that you also occasionally see in the Kathmandu Durbar Square temples.
You are below the Gorge itself at this point and unfortunately the plague of plastic bags and other rubbish is very evident here. Even the river smells bad. This used to be an idyllic spot once but went downhill once a cement factory (now abandoned) was constructed in the middle of it all.
The Village itself is much nicer with pretty good streets and a quiet & relaxed feel about it. The 15th Century Adinath Lokeshwar Temple is the focal point of the village and it is different from any others we have seen in that it has hundreds of metal plates, cups and similar objects nailed all over it. The Temple is important to the newlyweds who do the hammering in order to ensure a happy life together.
The Temple is sacred to Hindus and Buddhists and whilst it is built in the (Hindu) Newari style there are Buddhist influences as well, such as the gilded Dorje near the front of the building - yet another example of how the two religions often mix and merge in Nepal.
A good day in all and we were glad to have seen Kirtipur & Chobar, both of which we had not visited previously. The views over the Valley from both locations again brought home how much Kathmandu has expanded over the last 20 years.