Artem Khazov

The first time in Kathmandu

A contradictory city with ancient charm in which to rethink one's life
Khatmandu - Artem Khazov

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Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu: the capital of Nepal, the city of the Living Goddesses and the birthplace of the Buddha. A magnet with ancestral charm for travellers from all over the world. It is here that people seek peace and knowledge within the walls of Buddhist monasteries, and it is always here that some people’s Lives are changed forever.

To begin to get to know Kathmandu, one must go out at first light and walk along its semi-deserted streets. This is the only way to notice the slow gathering of people in small temples to perform the morning Puja, one of the main rituals of Hinduism. The main purpose of Puja is to express devotion and love toward the deity, and to receive grace and benevolence in return. Nepal is a very religious country. The whole population is involved, regardless of age or gender.

Durbar Square, the cradle of history

For those visiting Kathmandu, especially for the first time, one place to know is Durbar Square. Featuring extraordinary architecture, this square is the cultural and religious centre of the city, as well as the cradle of its history. The terrible 2015 earthquake severely damaged it but Durbar Square endures. Thanks to the skilled hands of local workers, it is being slowly but continually restored, hoping to one day recreate its former glory lost in the rubble.

Kumari, the living goddess

And it is in Durbar Square that the Living Goddess lives: the Kumari royal of Kathmandu. An embodiment of Goddess Taleju Bhawani, Kumari is chosen among the girls of Sakya families residing in the capital. It is said that one look from Kumari can change and improve a person’s life.
The fate of this Goddess is sealed from the beginning. At her first menstruation or even in case of illness or a simple injury with blood spilling, the Kumari is laid down because the divine presence is believed to have left her. The old Kumari thus leaves the Durbar Square palace and a new Kumari begins her new and temporary divine existence.

Within the walls of the monasteries

Around noon, the streets of Kathmandu become crowded and a mass of people begin to move chaotically through the city, on foot, in cars, on motorcycles. A mass that soon seems to become one. And in this whole, ancient Buddhist monasteries fill up with people from all walks of life for various reasons.
Many of these people are foreigners from all over the world. They spend their time from a few weeks to months inside these walls for various reasons. Some seek answers to the right questions. Others are here to forget, if only for a moment, their problems. Still others, however, are learning to meditate.
In addition to adults, many children can be seen in the monasteries. Education in Nepal is quite expensive and not all families can afford it. Monasteries offer children a good education and, at the same time, a roof over their heads at a reasonable price.

Khatmandu - Artem Khazov
Kathmandu – Artem Khazov

Between culture and tourism

Kathmandu also has a temple crematorium. It is the Pashupatinath Temple, along the Bagmati River. Here fires burn day and night and it is a place where many would wish to end their Samsara to finally come out of the cycle of death and rebirth. As in Varanasi, India, the bodies of the dead burn in pyre fires as hordes of curious tourists pass by. Pashupatinath Temple, the most important Hindu temple in Nepal, is now also a famous tourist attraction, precisely because of the funeral ceremonies held here.

Kathmandu is a unique city, sometimes shocking to first-time visitors, and sometimes provocative.
But it is in a city like this, for me so different from the reality in which I grew up, that you can find yourself completely immersed in rethinking your life.

Khatmandu - Artem Khazov
Khatmandu – ©Artem Khazov
Text & Photos: Artem Khazov 
Text Editor: Lisa Zillio 
Original text in English - In house translation
Kathmandu, Nepal
DooG's Contributor
Artem Hazov
Russian Federation

© Portfolio - The first time in Kathmandu

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