Greetings from Kathmandu, again.
The other day I went up to a stupa on the edge of town called Swayabunath (I think) at the suggestion of my friend Anni who's been to Nepal a few times. It wasn't very far from the neighborhood where I'm staying, but after a half hour walk, the rest is almost vertical. There are 365 steps that you have to climb to get up to the stupa, but it was totally worth it. From up there I had a nice 360 degree view of Kathmandu, and the stupa itself was really cool.
I just realized that I didn't choose the best pictures to represent what the place looks like. Behind this lion statue there is a big dome with the Buddha's "all-seeing eyes". There are four sets of eyes which point in the four cardinal directions. There are also a lot of small shrines all over the place, as well as prayer wheels. You're supposed to walk around the temple counter-clockwise and spin the prayer wheels as you go along. I will get some pictures of prayer wheels in the next blog for those who don't know what one is.
I realized recently that I really don't know much about the religions in India and Nepal, even though every place I go is spiritual and almost every person I meet has some religion and feels deeply connected to their spirituality. Maybe I'm not ready to think about things in so much depth?... I've met quite a few westerners who seem like they're looking for answers on their trip, and I have to say I can't really relate to that. Mostly, I came just to see stuff and be in awe of how we're all so different and so similar at the same time. I do think all the religious symbolism is beautiful, mostly because of the way people light up when they teach me about it. I have to say I am starting to be more interested, and maybe the next time I come to this part of the world I will pay more attention.
Ooooh-look at this!!!! It's people getting water out of an ancient fountain! I'm not kidding- the guide book said that this fountain has been working for over 6 centuries. This picture's a little far away, but you can see all the ladies lined up with their water containers, waiting their turn for water.
And here we have the Golden Temple. Today I went to Patan, the town just next to Kathmandu. I visited the museum which had a lot of stuff about Hinduism/Buddism symbols in Nepal (probably what got me thinking) and their Durbar Square (yep, more temples) and then the Golden Temple. Isn't it pretty? It's actually a small courtyard with this gold stupa in the middle. There's a lot of interesting stone carving in the walls of the courtyard, as well as prayer wheels and bells that you ring (I think after you're done praying). There's even a monastery upstairs where I saw an old man making candles and muttering to himself.