Monday, February 3, 2020

Places to Visit in Patan, Nepal

Kathmandu is one of the busiest cities I've visited. With motorcycles and small cars zooming in and out of the small roads and having to dodge pigeon droppings, I couldn't say that our stay here was relaxing. This is why R and I decided to check out a city called Patan to take a break from Kathmandu's mayhem.

Hello, Patan.
Lalitpur or historically called Patan, is the third largest city of Nepal next to Kathmandu and Pokhara. Located about half an hour away from Kathmandu, this is one of the popular destinations for tourists with limited time in Nepal.
One could hail a cab, rent a car or take a public van to get to the city. And while a cab ride would only cost about $10 per way (tourist price for a 30-minute ride), R and I thought that it might be best to experience going there the local way. 
We went to Ratna Park which was 10 minutes away from our hotel and took one of the vans heading to Patan for just NPR20. As described by many blogs, it was indeed chaotic there. Vans or buses don't have clear signs. But the drivers are friendly and would point you to the right van/bus.
Just like in Manila, they sure pack the van like a clown's car. No space was left unused. There were even passengers standing inside the van!
And since the vans have its windows down, best to have masks and glasses on to keep yourself protected from dust and pollution in general.
The scenic Patan you see in photos won't be the first thing you'll see when you get to this busy city. You'll be greeted by similar chaos you'd get from Kathmandu. 
We got off at the huge market close to a few temples surrounding Patan Durbar Square. 
With the internet failing us, we got a bit confused as to where to go. There were a few temples that seem to be closed to the public as this one photographed.
But some temples have clear signs that they welcome tourists. Some even have entrance fees like Rudravarna Mahavihar
We paid NPR50 per person to stroll around the small temple adorned with beautiful brass bells, dorjes, winged horses, a statue of Minister Juddha Shumsher (who helped finance the repairs caused by the 1934 earthquake) and of course, statues of Buddha.
The ticket for Rudravarna Mahavihar is also valid for Mahabuddha Temple. It's just a block or two away so we decided to check it out as well.
Nicknamed as the "temple of a thousand and eight Buddhas", this beautiful site showcases a tower of Buddha-engraved terracotta tiles. 
I noticed that there were several guests inside who kept circling the tower and ring the bell when they pass it. It may be a way to show respect or a form of prayer.
There were also a lot of dried up watering holes in the city. It somehow gives us a glimpse of what it was like years ago.
It was already close to 4 p.m. when we headed to Patan Durbar Square. But the famous center was still packed with tourists! 
And since we won't be able to cover much ground before sunset, we decided to just enjoy the view of the square from one of the short buildings across it.
The entrance fee to the square costs NPR1,000 (roughly PHP500) per person. Foreign nationals who bring their passports though can get their tickets have extended validity at no additional cost. From what I read, you can have it extended up to one week.
If you have extra time to spare, do also check the House of the Kumari. The Kumari plays an important part in Nepali culture. Carefully selected among other children, the living goddess is highly respected by locals. However, it is also exploited by many tour companies. Note that you can easily visit the Kumari without having to book a tour. Patan offers the easiest way to meet one. You can read more about it here.
Hungry? There are a handful of restaurants and snack shops around the square if you wish to have a meal there. We opted for something familiar and had a burger and fried chicken.
To get back to Kathmandu, simply retrace your steps and head back to the busy market where several vans wait for passengers to bring back to Ratna Park.

Though Patan was just half an hour away from the capital Kathmandu, it was a bit tiring for us to visit this city. But it was worth visiting if you have nothing else planned. If you prefer something more serene, I recommend checking Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu.

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