Nepal, needless to say, is a beautiful country, for one the Himalayas adorn it, for another India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tibet shape its borders. The cultural diversity is evident everywhere, from Durbar Square to isolated trails in the mountains so much so that, during our Annapurna Circuit trek in November 2013, we even met a Chinese family: husband, wife and a child with a pair of red plums for cheeks (reddened due to cold) trekking from Nepal to China.
Annapurna Circuit was one of my favourite and most comfortable treks in the Himalayas. Thanks to the tea houses, we didn’t have to sleep in tents on rugged terrains. I only have fond memories of all the time we spent in Nepal: trekking, sightseeing and just sipping on a hot lemon tea gazing at the mountains. Exactly a year later I heard about the Avalanche in Annapurna Circuit. It was disturbing to know that some of the trekkers were marooned and some died in the Avalanche along the toughest trail-Thorung La pass. In fact, I thought I was going to die on the trail because of the cold and steep climb. I could literally picture the hardship they must have gone through. And again a few months later the Earthquake shattered Nepal leaving many homeless.
When I glimpsed at the pictures of the Durbar Square ruins in the aftermath of the Earthquake, I sat back and recollected my experience there. Durbar Square before the earthquake reminded me of Florence. It had a tinge of rainbow colours to it and the place came alive with tourists and locals alike. The temple domes with clear blue sky and snow-capped mountain for a backdrop was its speciality. People sat in rows or wherever they found some space and took in the scenery and the warmth and cold it came with. And the tiny shops in the narrow lanes selling local products, souvenirs, incense, saffron, flowers and local food gave it a unique character. Only happy thoughts come to my mind as I think of this place and suddenly it’s hard to believe that Durbar Square is not the same anymore.
Some images of Durbar Square from my visit:
Your lunch on the terrace of a restaurant comes with a view like this. So the food presentation, perhaps, takes a back seat, for no one notices it.
Most shops were in the quaint old buildings with carved stone pillars and carved wooden doors, which gave this place an interesting character.
Laid-back is the word I would use to describe the mood of the place.