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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Namaste. Welcome to Patan Durbar Square!
It’s never too much to see another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kathmandu Valley!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :
- Our Unforgettable Journey From Malaysia to Nepal
- Incredibly Beautiful Bhaktapur
- Patan : The City of Fine Arts in Nepal
- Beneath Buddha’s Watchful Eyes : Boudhanath Stupa & Swayambhunath Stupa
- Nagarkot : Sleeping in Nepal’s 7000 feet
- Our Last Moments in Nepal : From Nagarkot to Kuala Lumpur International Airport