Monday, December 26, 2011

Asian Adventure: Day 5 Change of Plans

The possibility of heading further off the beaten path had gotten us excited, so early the next morning we headed to the office of a local trekking company to explore our options. After an hour or so of debating options, we finally decided to complete the majority of the Annapurna Circuit as we initially planned but instead of hiking the second half of the circuit into the Annapurna Sanctuary we would then head into the remote district of Mustang. Mustang is an ancient kingdom located on the Tibetan border with a primarily Tibetan Buddhist population. Up until 1992 the area was closed to tourists and it is still a restricted area - requiring that all foreigners purchase special (expensive) permits and travel with a licensed guide. It was described to us as "Tibet before it was China" and we were sold.

After making all of the necessary arrangements to leave Kathmandu on our trek the next morning, we headed out across the city to explore the Pashupatinath Temple Complex.

Talking his goats for a walk

Pashupatinath is a Hindu temple around the Bagmati River. The Bagmati River is considering highly sacred. Pilgrims or Sadhus flock to the site to bath in the river and the banks are the site of traditional funeral pyres. The main temple complex is closed to non-Hindus but it was possible to sit on the bank opposite the temple and observe the processions and funeral rites being performed.

Pashupatinath Temple
Ghats on the Bagmati River


Unfortunately the temple was also home to one of Dave's least favourite animals - monkeys.


Wanting to escape the monkeys, we continued on to the Buddhist temple of Boudhanath. Despite being located in the middle of a bustling Kathmandu suburb, the temple complex was amazingly peaceful. A tight circle of brick buildings with a colourful monastery at the head, the plaza was filled with monks, pigeons and the sounds of chanting. In the centre of the complex is a towering white stoupa draped in prayer flags. We spent hours walking around the circle enjoying the sounds and absorbing the bright colours of the traditional Buddhist buildings.  

Boudhanath Stoupa
Boudhanath Temple

After a long day and a little last minute supply shopping, we returned to our hotel to pack for our early start the next day.

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