Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kathmandu: The gems and the lost Treasures

On my journey to the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, I fell in love with its beautiful landscape and met wonderful people who were friendly and kind-hearted.

In August 2013, in an uncertain moment, I traveled to Kathmandu and cherished the 6-day trip. It was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life to learn about the Nepalese people's culture and traditions.

From the first day of my trip, I have imagined the glorious past of the place as I pass around the narrow streets with modern and centuries-old architecture--evidence of Nepal's rich heritage and culture. I have roamed around and bought Kurtas (traditional Nepalese clothe) from different shops, and at the same time, I was able to stop by coffee shops to awaken my senses and continue the journey.

I was amazed by the view of the Kathmandu valley from the hotel where I stayed, as one can see the mountains surrounding the city and the crowded houses and buildings made of stones and bricks.

On a beautiful morning, as I walk in the old streets, I witness the businesses of the people. It is so simple, yet full of spiritual practices to start the day. They pray and chant to their Gods, using aromatic incense to drive off evil spirits or any form of negativity. I used to burn incense of different scents for my daily prayers and intentions.

On a sunny afternoon, as I walked into the downtown area, I saw the simple living of the people. They are not into buying luxurious things. In fact, they only have a few malls that sell bargain products. There's a huge football field and park with a tall observatory tower where one can see the panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley.

As I walked down the streets, I saw beautiful natural scenery and some that were man-made. I spent a few hours walking and rejuvenating at the famous lake in the central business area. Beside the lake are food stalls in the street selling coffee, tea, and bread; I have tasted them to get some energy for a long walk.

Kathmandu is such a peaceful place, and I felt the people's spirituality. There are temples everywhere for them to pray and glorify their Gods. They offer food and burn incense, and there's something more than their religious practices. They care and love people regardless of race and creed. They have happy faces, and they even look like Filipinos. I have witnessed their friendliness and hospitality to tourists. They are very conversant about Nepal's history and heritage and helpful in any way.

Kathmandu is rich in heritage sites that are recognized and protected by UNESCO. A day before I left, I could grab the offer for a day tour of 4 out of 7 UNESCO world heritage sites. 

I have meditated in the mountainous places of Swayambunath and Pashupatinath, where huge stupas can be seen as the center of attraction. I visited the ancient city and Durbar Square in Patan, and it was in that place where I felt that I was on time travel. I sensed that I was transported several centuries back, although I can see and interact with modern people--the locals and foreign tourists in their everyday clothing, ways, and actions.

On April 25, 2015, it was a tragic moment when the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal was reported to suffer a strong magnitude earthquake. Kathmandu and its nearby town, including northern India (Bihar state) and southern China (Tibet region), were heavily devastated and lost thousands of people, including locals and foreigners. The Kathmandu valley was destroyed with thousands of houses and buildings that collapsed, a thousand families became homeless, and a thousand lives were killed.

It saddened me to hear the news as I recalled the beautiful memories I had with the Nepalese people I met and interacted with on the road. I remember when I enjoyed their heritage sites and everything Kathmandu offers. I have learned many things about them and am grateful for the joyful experience.

Now that almost everything was lost, how could they recover from the tragedy? How many of those people I met have died, and how many have survived? How are those playful kids I have interacted with at the park? Life could be unpredictable and bad things could happen to good people.

At the present time, it is about survival, but a sad fate to innocent lives. You may have met wonderful people, but tomorrow they might be gone. You may have seen impressive structures, but they may have been out of sight tomorrow. Survival is not about religion or spirituality. It is now a way of life.

From the magnificent peak of Mount Everest; the serenity of Pokhara; and the architectural heritage of Kathmandu, Nepal is a gem I have found, but now it is a lost treasure. It will take work. Hence it will take time to stand up and face the world again. They need our help in any way, and once they are well and ready, they will stand up and build up their soulful heritage.

© 2015 Del Cusay

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