Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nepal: Let the sun go down again and again

Wednesday 23 April 2014 - Monday 19 May 2014

There are lot of things happening around us again and again. Sunset is one of those and I never get tired of watching the sun gets down again and again. At my busy life in Dhaka (ঢাকা) I rarely get a chance to see the sunset. Its almost impossible to enjoy this thing for the mammoth buildings around us.

But it was a different story when I use to visit the Nepal. From the roof of our apartment the western side is all most totally viewable, except the tail of the Nagarjun (नागार्जुन) hill located in Nagarjun (नागार्जुन) Reserve Forest. The sun use to go behind that hill every day and I used to enjoy the beauty all most every day even after my busyness. Most of the day the red sun was fully or partially visible. Few other days were unlucky as the sun was totally covered by the clouds, or by the fogs which are formed from the clouds.

I have stayed at the Indreni (इन्द्रेणी) Apartment at Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ). All most 95% of the families living there are foreigners in Nepal. From the roof of that building I have enjoyed my daily sunset at Nepal. The GPS coordinate of the apartment is (27°43'15.72"N, 85°19'59.52"E). And the GPS coordinate of the tail of Nagarjun (नागार्जुन) hill is (27°44'6.48"N, 85°18'1.22"E).

I have posted the photos of sunset with this article. These photos are taken in between a one month of period. You'll see the deviation of sun's position from left to right in terms of the fixed hill.

This article is written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog http://icwow.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nepal: Swayambhunath Stupa (aka The Monkey Temple)

Friday, 09 May 2014

It was 4:00 PM of the day when I have decided to visit the Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप). To save the Taxi fare I started walking from the Thamel (ठमेल) to reach the Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप). It was a long, dull walking under the hot sun of Spring in Nepal (नेपाल). I had to walk unnecessarily a long way as my GPS wasn't working for a several minutes. But there was a very short-cut route available from Thamel (ठमेल) and I have missed that.

My tiring walking ended at the bottom stair of the eastern gate of the temple. Initially I didn't know that the stairs were so long and steep. But still I was climbing slowly. I was taking rest (as I grew older? and do not have much stamina?) frequently and enjoying the bargaining of local vendor and the white-skin foreign tourists. One of them was trying to sell a handkerchief for 5000 rupees and the clever tourists just called him a crazy vendor.

After few initial steps, three 12 feet tall statues of Buddha are placed in an array. I was observing those statues and also was taking photo using my cell phone. I was disguised amongst the local people and none of the irritating vendors paid any attention towards me. Lucy me!

It took a while (actually more than expected time) to reach at the top of those stairs. Lot of tourists along with local visitors were occupying the top. I was standing a side at the top from where the whole Kathmandu valley was open in front of me. After taking a break on there I started to explore the temple premise.

It has few small temples around it. Few more statues of Buddha were around the other sides. It also had few roof top restaurants and the souvenir shops around. I was hungry (starving the whole day) and wanted to have my meal from one of those. But unfortunately I didn't find any tourists over there. So I have controlled my mind from going there.

There were a small pond named World Peace Pond located at the western side of the temple. It has a brass made statue of standing Buddha (on Lotus flower) at the middle of it. It has a bucket in front of it and the people were trying to throw the coins of one and two rupee on that bucket. Local people were selling the coins beside that place. I enjoyed others who were throwing coins, but I didn't throw any.

I have left the place at around 6:40 pm after observing the premise. I exit the temple through the gate of the Southern side. I didn't buy any ticket as I have entered through the eastern side, and also I do not like an outsider. Also, I wasn't carrying any bag, camera or anything that can make others to feel I am a tourist.

About Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप):

Swayambhunath (स्वयम्भूनाथ) temple (mainly known as Swayambhunath Stupa) also known as The Monkey Temple is located at the Western side of the Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ) valley of Nepal (नेपाल). It is located at the top of a small hill and it is a very sacred place for the Buddhist devotees. According to the mythology, a Lotus flower converted into a Stupa (स्तुप) atop of the hill by itself. That's why it is known as Swayambhunath Stupa (means self created in Nepali language).

The temple is also known as Monkey Temple because the holy monkeys were living there. Those monkeys were actually transformed from the lice of Manjushree's (मञ्जुश्री) hair (he who raised the mountain on that the temple is standing). While visiting the temple, you must have to be beware from the monkeys before they snatch or steal things from you.

Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) has two main entrances, one is at the eastern side that has 365 high steps which leads you to the top of the temple. Another one is at the southern side (most people reach there by car) with a ticket counter. If you are young and enthusiastic then you must enter the temple by climbing the steps. This is tiring, but you'll enjoy it at the end.

This temple is sacred for both Buddhist and the Hindu religion. The powerful Hindu king of 17th century named Pratap Malla (प्रताप मल्ल) along with other Monarchs used pay their homage to this temple. The king Pratap Malla (प्रताप मल्ल) built those stairs at the eastern side of the temple.

From the inscription it is found that the Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) was built during the 5th century. But lot of people use to believe that it is even before that. They believe it is standing since 1st century. During this period the temple was renovated only 15 times (unbelievable in 1500 years). Even the last one was during 2010 which was first after 1921. That time the dome was re-glided with 20 kg of gold.

At the top, beside the Stupa (स्तुप) you'll find lot of souvenir shops, roof top restaurant, hotels, etc. The souvenirs are crazily costly. So before buying anything from there, make sure what you are exactly doing.

How to Go:

Shombhunath Temple (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) is very easy to access as its inside the valley of Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ) in Nepal (नेपाल). You'll just need to ask a Taxi driver to drop you there. From the tourist area Thamel (ठमेल) it will be around 120 to 200 Nepali rupees taxi fare. Alternately, you can have a walk as well. Its not too far from Thamel (ठमेल). A 15/20 minutes of short walking will lead you towards the temple. GPS coordinate of the temple is (27°42'53.42"N, 85°17'25.48"E).

Best time to visit the Stupa (स्तुप) is before 9:00 am at morning when you'll find only the pilgrims instead of the chaotic tourists.

The 365 stairs begin from here.

A beautiful statue of Buddha beside the stair.

Believe me, I was tired even at this stage!

Still long way to go. This is probably the best view of the stairs.

The view of the Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ) valley from the top of the Swayambhunath (स्वयम्भूनाथ).

I do not know what this things. They can rotate around the center and people use to push them so that it can circle on it's center.

A Brass made statue of an animal. May be a Lion!

A small temple is beside the Stupa (स्तुप).

The Swayambhunath Stupa (स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप).

Few small shrines.

A Statue of Dipankar Buddha from 7th century. It is made on a shingle stone.

This small temple resides at the western side of the temple.

View of the western side of the temple.

Statue of standing Buddha on Lotus at the World Peace Pond.

Watch closely the nose under the eyes. It is basically the digit one in Nepali script.

Another Shrine. Not sure how it is functioning.

Are these the statue of the Holy monks?

What does it look like?

View of the Swayambhunath Stupa(स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप) from the down at southern side.

Swayambhunath Stupa(स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप),
Kathmandu (काठमाडौँ),
Nepal (नेपाल)

This article is written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog http://icwow.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trumpet Creeper - Campsis radicans

Common Name : Trumpet Creeper, Flamenco Trumpet, etc.
Botanical Name : Campsis radicans
Family : Bignoniaceae

I have never seen this flower in Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ), but in Nepal (नेपाल) it was everywhere. This is commonly known as Trumpet vine, Trumpet creeper, etc. I don't know any Bengali (বাংলা) name for this beautiful looking flower. Its botanical name is Campsis radicans and belongs to the plant family Bignoniaceae. Trumpet creeper is mainly native to the North American region.

Trumpet creeper is a deciduous high climber woody vine plant that usually grows around 20-30 ft in height (with strong support). Its leafs are dense and a perfect place for nesting for the small birds like hummingbird, etc. Pinnate leafs of this plant are dark green but touching the leaf can cause itching or allergic reaction to the skin. Probably for this reason this plant is also known as Cow Itching vine at North America, where it it native.

Flowers of Trumpet Creeper are showy and very much attractive. It has a color of a mixture of red and orange. Trumpet or funnel shaped flowers bloom as a cluster. These flowers are very much attractive for the birds, specially the Hummingbirds. During it's blooming season it brings lot of flowers continuously.

This creeper has covered a supporting tree totally and resembles as a plant itself. The vine brought lot of red-orange attractive Trumpet flowers on it. This photo was taken from the Garden of Dreams.

Photos of this article were taken from the Kathmandu, Nepal (काठमाडौं, नेपाल) during the May 2014. The flowers were hanging at the outside of a wall from a private property.

This article is written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog http://icwow.blogspot.com/