Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 12 - Dhulikel and Kathmandu

For the first time in almost two weeks, we didn't have to out-the-door by 7:45 so fellows started their day in different ways.  Some caught up on sleep while others went on an early hike with our guide, Sanjay Nepal (yes, that is his given surname), to watch the sun rise over the Himalayas.

From the Mirabel Hotel in Dhulikel, we headed back down to Kathmandu to the Pashupatinath Temple.  The Pashupatinath Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the bank of the Bagmati River.  It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the most significant Hindu temples.

The Pashupatinath Temple with a body being prepared for cremation (wrapped in orange in lower right)
Across the Bagmati River from the Temple is Pandra Shivalaya, a series of 15 votive shrines that were built between 1859 and 1869.

Around the Pandra Shivalaya were a number of Sadhu Babas, whom are ascetic Hindu monks.

Joe Ange with a Sadhu Baba
In addition to the beautiful architecture of the Temple and the votives, we visited the site because the Bagmati River is one of Nepal's most sacred rivers and where public cremations are performed every day.
Bodies being cremated along the polluted Bagmati River
After our visit to the Bagmati River, we headed to the US Embassy in Kathmandu where Matt Hughes, an Economics officer assembled a terrific panel of experts to discuss Nepal with us.  Some of the most interesting things we learned:
  • Nepal is due for a major earthquake and when the next one occurs there will likely be significant loss of life because building construction is so poor and post-event support would be so difficult to bring in.
  • Unlike India, Nepal is very opposed to genetically modified crops.
  • Up to 25% of Nepal's GDP is from remittences from workers who've found work abroad.  In fact, the next day at the Kathmandu airport we saw almost an entire plane fill with Nepalese bound for a three-year work commitment in Malaysia.

The US Embassy in Kathmandu

After the embassy visit, we walked around downtown Kathmandu.  We ended our evening at a restaurant with traditional Nepalese food and dance.

Karm Bains (Class 40), Ashley Gill and Denise Junqueiro watching Sonny Pulido receive a Henna tattoo

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