PATAN : THE CITY OF FINE ARTS IN NEPAL

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Chyasim Deval Krishna Hindu Temple, Patan Durbar Square, Nepal.

Comparable to those in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, Patan Durbar Square is poetic, almost lyrical.  Its unique medieval charm emanating from ornately carved and beautifully built 16th and 17th century-old temples, impressive palace, museum with lovely and expansive courtyards, could seduce any first-time-visitor effortlessly. Most picturesque corners offer an alluring venue where one can sit all day, while away the time and never get bored or hungry (the last word is a joke, obviously!). 😀 The exquisite beauty of Patan Durbar Square and its quaint community complements the friendly smiles of its people.

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Gabby with a friendly Nepalese woman who sells bird feeds for 20 rupees (US$ 0.20 or PhP 9) per plate.

August 08, 2013. Thursday. Our third day in Nepal.  With my wife, Tina and our 8-year-old son, Gabby in tow, I left our accomodation in Thamel, Kathmandu at around 9AM. Despite the monsoon season in Nepal would last for 30-45 days more, as per word of one of the staff of Thorong Peak Guest House, the weather was glorious as the sun was up on the day we left for Patan.

“Namaste. Good morning! How much would you charge going to Patan?”  I asked the taxi driver standing in the tapered alley, a few steps from the hotel.

“Four hundred Nepalese Rupees, Sir.”  he replied.  With my poor Mathematics ability, I did mental computation and agreed without hesitation.  I silently reminded myself to be sensitive and considerate, so I didn’t bother to haggle, with the thought that I might deprive the man of his day’s earnings.  Four Hundred Nepalese Rupees at present, is only US$ 4; reasonable, I think for a 7km ride to south of Thamel.

After 2 days in Nepal, the three of us became used to riding small Suzuki hatchback taxi cabs, rolling along narrow muddy, if not dusty alleys and bumpy terracotta brick roads. Minibuses, as mentioned in the previous posts, may be a cheaper option to some but we regarded a little more convenience and comfort.

The taxi driver dropped us off right in front of the ticket booth. Initially, I was relieved, thinking that similar to Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, what comes after the ticket booth is the entrance to the square itself.  I forgot that Patan is another world within the Kathmandu Valley.

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Admission tickets and tourists’ IDs  for Tina & me; Gabby’s free as usual.

Tina asked me if I know the way to Patan Durbar Square, I responded by inquiring directions from a local man who just finished paying respect to his god by the Buddhist temple along the road.

“You walk straight and then turn right at the end.”  said the Nepali.

I missed reading the fact that there are 2 ticket booths and entry sites to Patan Durbar Square. We were brought by the taxi driver from Thamel to the ticket booth located south of the main plaza, thus it required us to walk around several meters to reach Patan Durbar Square.

I thought of Tina and Gabby, of course. More than my worry that they might complain, I became a bit paranoid that they may experience fatigue and hypoglycemia after walking long with empty stomachs. Thankfully, nothing eventful happened. The three of us didn’t feel exhausted from the seemingly endless constricted streets and no one complained.  As always, they’re my most understanding travel mates! 🙂

Vividly painted doors in blue and green hues, intricate carvings, gorgeous wooden windows, peddlers, vendors, pedestrians, Thangka painting school and shops, vehicles that tried to squeeze itself within the thin to thinner roads, all those became our morning sensory stimuli. Walking towards Patan Durbar Square was a blessing in disguise!

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We don’t see this everyday. Thangka paintings seen on display in shops;  geriatric peddlers still busy earning a living.

What seemed to be a common weekday in Patan for the many, became an extraordinary and memorable day for Tina, Gabby and me.  I personally felt stepping into another old world again.

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These streets are made for walking.

The moment we set foot in Patan Durbar Square, we were drawn in by another diversity of culture that allowed Buddhism and Hinduism to flourish harmoniously.
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Gladly, Tina and Gabby trusted my choices of itineraries so I NEVER heard any of them saying, “What?!  Another durbar square?!”

I smiled seeing the two wonder in awe with the sight before us. Tina began taking her photos and videos via her smartphone while I saw Gabby standing in one corner, visually inspecting the place.

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Manga Hiti. The water tank that made Tina and I curious about.

The next thing I saw was the scene involving Tina asking a few Nepalese about the the sunken cruciform-shaped water tank.

I was  surprised when she suggested that we should go down.  I refused. She saw people drinking the water too. With due respect to the faithfuls and their belief, I didn’t want to entertain the thoughts in my mind and be haunted by the colony counts of microorganisms and vectors that were possibly proliferating in Manga Hiti.  Although the three amazingly carved dhara or water spouts in the form of makara or mythical crocodile-elephants were truly inviting.

We saw Patan Durbar Square as busy as Kathmandu Durbar Square.  It was flocked not only by its resident pigeons but local people and tourists of all ages as well.  Vendors selling bird feeds, old Nepali men watching the world and time go by,  young cyclists roaming to and fro, students enjoying their break time from school, who made me think if they have idea, or at least a hint, that they’re very fortunate and blessed that their playground is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Patan was so busy but rich and colorful and a true sight to behold!

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Engaging  sights. Fascinating place. Interesting people.

Namaste. Welcome to Patan Durbar Square!

It’s never too much to see another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kathmandu Valley!

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King Yoganarendra Malla’s statue in brass atop a tall concrete column, installed around 1700.  King Malla is depicted with his queens, and a cobra with a small brass bird. According to the legend, as long as that tiny bird remains in place, the king may still return to the palace.

Behold, the Krishna Mandir Hindu Temple in Patan Durbar Square.  According to the Lonely Planet Guide to Nepal that I read, this three-tiered temple was built by King Siddhinarsingh Malla in 1637.  The man-bird, Garuda, the god’s vehicle is seen kneeling with hands on prayerful position on top of a column erected in front of the temple. Non-Hindus are not allowed to set foot inside to view the image of Vishnu as Krishna, the god’s incarnation. Nonetheless, admiring its architectural magnificence puts anyone to a breathtaking once-in-a-lifetime-moment!

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Krishna Mandir Hindu Temple. One of my favorite corners in Patan Durbar Square.

A world away from theme parks, carnivals and fastfood joints and just like what he did on our first day in Nepal, our little boy wonder found delight once more in chasing and running after pigeons.  This time, he asked Tina and I if he could buy bird feeds, we replied positively.

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One of the few women at the square who sells bird feeds.

It was a parent’s joy to see his child savoring  a moment!
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Gabby’s framed by the flock as he tried to chase and tease them. I love this photo!

Didn’t I mention, we went to Patan without having breakfast? We walked our way to the nearby Cafe du Temple and had our light brunch.

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My favorite travel buddies, who else but my family – Tina & Gabby at the rooftop of Cafe du Temple, Patan. 🙂

One remarkable thing that I read before coming to Nepal was eating in rooftop restaurants is a must-experience!  We religiously obliged. My family and I ate our first meal in Nepal at Cosmo de Cafe in Kathmandu Durbar Square, and in Patan, we hit the stairs up to the rooftop of Cafe du Temple.

The reason is obvious and self-explanatory.

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Patan Durbar Square as viewed from the rooftop restaurant, Cafe du Temple.  Breathtaking, isn’t it?

However, most tables, seats and the floor itself, despite under huge umbrellas, were wet because of the drizzle, so we just took a few pictures and went down to the roofed dining area of Cafe du Temple. Here we met another Filipino. Not a person, by the way, but San Miguel Beer, one of Philippines’ famous exports (perhaps, next to Manny Pacquiao? *kidding*).  I only took a blurry photo of that SMB bottle using my phone so I didn’t bother to post. Besides, we didn’t ordered it, enough for us to smile that it stands side by side with Everest beer bottles inside the fridge of that eatery.

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Funny how Gabby’s used already to taking photos first prior devouring any meal.

After a quick bites by the window, we went back to the square. We attempted to go inside Patan Museum but immediately found simple contentment in just taking photos a few steps after its facade.

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All smiles in Patan!  🙂

Instead of going through artifacts par excellance all housed in Patan Museum, we chose to be with the people outside the museum. There were a volume of old Nepali men, proudly wearing their Nepalese traditional hat called, Dhaka topi while watching a random show of live singing and local music in the middle of the durbar square fronting the Royal Palace. Women talking with fellow women. Mothers carrying children close to their bosoms.  More peddlers walked by with muddy feet, trying their best to earn a living.
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All those grandiose Newari cultural and religious heritage, those friendly Nepalese smiles, those simple meals and drinks we savored, that life in Patan that we witnessed will all linger in our memories forever.  I only spent less than 6 hours in Patan, but spending it with my family made it worthwhile.  

“Journeys are gifts we give ourselves. Even if you are very lucky and have someone else footing the bill for your journey, you are still giving yourself a gift just by going. Too many people have opportunities to travel, but choose to stay home, fearful of the unknown, shackled by their everyday rut, tied down to commitments that don’t have to tie them down if they would seek creative solutions.

We can’t always travel right away, but we can always be planning, scheming, chiseling away at the things that keep us home so that someday in the hopefully not too distant future, we can go explore places we dream of visiting.”  

~ Dave Fox

To be continued.

*A life journey of mine, an epiphany of travel for you, made possible by Malaysia Airlines.

This Nepal Blog Series includes :

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34 thoughts on “PATAN : THE CITY OF FINE ARTS IN NEPAL

  1. Ang ganda ng top view! Hehe! The souvenirs are really amazingly colorful! They reflect how rich Nepalese culture is, that’s why I’m really itching to go there.. Maybe next year. 🙂 I just hope the structures are still as beautiful as they look in this entry of yours. This inspired me to travel this least popular place in Asia (compared to SG, Seoul, Tokyo etc..). Keep your Nepal posts coming, Doc! 🙂

  2. This is my kind of travel destination. Hope I could also see this for myself. The architecture reminds me so much of India.

    BTW doc, pag busog ang mata, walang reklamo and tiyan.

  3. It’s truly breath taking! Nepalese are so lucky enough to have all of these UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES in near to each other.

    Looking on the daily lives of Nepalese made me felt that world is still perfect place even without the convenience of technology.. I’ll look forward to stay and live like a Nepalese one day.

    Me and Krissy can’t stop smiling after reading your post. Your Nepal trip is inspirational.

    1. we admire the efforts they put in preservation of those heritage sites all these years but
      what made the nepalese even more amazing is how they carry out their modest lives daily.
      they reminded us that simple things make the best happiness.

      thank you very much, joey!

  4. I’ve not yet been to Nepal but thanks to you, I’m seeing it through your eyes. Btw, I wonder how long you are going to live if you said your favorite travel companions are not Tina and Gabby. Biro lang.

  5. Buti pa si gabby laging free entrance 🙂 sarap maging bata! Wow doc ang bait mo naman nde ka nag haggle sa taxi.. Feeling q kasama aq sa tour nyu habang binabasa to. Sarap maglakad jan sa alley! Wow!!!!

  6. Buti pa si gabby laging free entrance… Sarap maging bata! Ang bait bait m nmn doc nde ka na nag haggle sa taxi. Feeling ko ksama aq sa tour nyu habang binabasa ko to.

    Ang gandaaaaaa jan!!!! Sana mapadpad aq…

  7. again a very detailed chronicle of nepal, its rich culture and tradition, its people, ikaw na talaga docgelo! 🙂

    and picture taking before any meal, i’m equally happy that my husband is now getting used to it without giving me a sarcastic comment hehehe

    1. i guess our families got used to eat a little late after a meal is served because the bloggers in us would take shots first! 🙂 im lucky that tina has been into instagram too so she really enjoys taking shots of whatever she fancies.

      glad you read & liked the post as much as i enjoyed drafting it.

      thank you so much for following this blog series. there will be more to come!

  8. whuut? you missed the chance to go to Patan Museum? It is considered the finest museum of Nepal, and no not by Nepali standards. It has sooo many extraordinary things inside, finely restored 17th century palace to begin with! Plus they have an amazing garden and restaurant inside. And just behind the Krishna Mandir, they have the famour Honacha restaurant that is like the most authentic Newari cuisine restaurant. But that place isn’t for everyone, not especially for hyegiene conscious folks like you. But still I wish you had a slightiest bit taste of Newari food in the heart of the Newar town. You also missed the chance to go to the imposing Maha Buddha temple which is only a few mins walk from the main square.

    1. I read that too. Patan wouldn’t be called City of Fine Arts and City of Beauty in Nepal if not for its artifacts and cultural collectibles, right?
      The decision to skip going to the museum came on a whim and no regrets as we’re still grateful that we’ve been to that part of Kathmandu Valley. Perhaps, it’s one of the greatest reasons to come back to your country if we’ll have a chance again in this lifetime.

      Thank you Vp for following our Nepal adventure! 🙂

      1. Yes exactly, just like Bhaktapur being called a “living heritage/museum”, Patan too is called City of Arts for a reason. And you would have understood why if you went to the museum because it has many beautiful arts (duh) and crafts preserved, but more importantly, it is the way it has been preserved that would amaze you. But I’m glad you at least got to check all of this out from the outside, and got to explore the old narrow streets, which as you mentioned previously is in itself a vibrant museum. And there you have another reason to come back to Nepal! And next time, you have to travel beyond the valley as there are a million more things for you and your family to discover!

  9. Wow! Didn’t know it is this colorful in Nepal. Patan is a city of fine arts indeed! Will definitely get back to this post when I plan my Nepal trip, perhaps in two years. =)

    1. hi claire, welcome to my site! yes, nepal is worth the journey!
      thanks for reading the post; will make a follow up on this blog series soon! more stories & photos to come! 🙂

      1. Thanks! 🙂 I’m quite new here, though I’ve browsed some of your Penang entries some months ago.

        By the way, love the quote by Dave Fox. May I use it on my FB blog page? 🙂

  10. cute ni Gabby all smiles lagi..

    Love the photos… the place is full of charm sa photos pa lang.
    I wanna go huhuhu. Would love to see the old people too….they always fascinate me.

    1. hi apol, thank you for dropping by!
      incidentally, i’m currently drafting the next blog post here; wish you follow the entire nepal blog series. 🙂

      nepal and her people are really charming. i wish to go back in the future to go trekking and explore and discover more fascinating
      things about the valley and beyond.

      si gabby, cute? of course! we cannot blame genetics! 🙂

  11. A longer walk to Patan Durbar Square is something I wouldn’t mind. You guys got yourself rewarded with views of local scenes and you deftly put them to photos!
    Manga Hata reminds me of the Hindu pilgrims in Varanasi (India), whose faith superseded any thoughts about bacteria. Interestingly, no one seems to get sick. Divine providence?

  12. “I didn’t want to entertain the thoughts in my mind and be haunted by the colony counts of microorganisms and vectors that were possibly proliferating in Manga Hiti” — nosebleed ako sa terms doc. lol

    Wow, angganda pala ng Nepal! I love that shot with Gabby na naframe ng mga pigeons!

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