Friday, March 23, 2018

A view of Kathmandu valley

Soul-searching in the land of Buddha

Doubt everything, find your own light - Buddha

These words of Lord Buddha echoed in my heart when we set off on our maiden trip to the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal.

There was a lot of skepticism in my mind right from the moment we booked the trip. We were worried about safety, flights, currency and what not. However, the journey made me realize that much of the skepticism was in vain. After all, it was just a 2-day weekend escapade.

The Himalayan country is for those who wish to do some soul-searching and we did just that.
Prayer flags
From monasteries to palaces to markets, there was a tinge of spirituality wherever we went. In the ornate carvings on palace walls, in the serenity of monasteries, in the beautiful Tanka paintings, in the healing bowls, Buddha was everywhere. Without noise, in every form, it was as if Buddha was telling each one of us: Walk the right path, do the right thing, nothing else really matters.

All-seeing eyes of Swayambhunath
Compare Buddha’s teachings and Nepal in its ruins, you’ll find that the country in itself symbolizes how one has to work tirelessly to end one's own suffering. There is a lot of restoration work going on in and around Kathmandu. Many architectural marvels have been damaged in the earthquake. Yet, each and every one of its world heritage sites leaves visitors awestruck by its sheer beauty. Be it the ruins of the Durbar squares, the temples in every alley, the colourful prayer flags atop the hill overlooking Kathmandu valley, the all-seeing eyes of Swayambhunath, the prayer wheels of Boudhanath, mesmerizing sunrise at Nagarkot, the cycle of life at Pasupatinath, how do I even describe the aura and magic of it all in words? Beautiful Bhaktapur is another wonder in itself. While tourists go around exploring the intricate works of art in each nook and cranny of the city, the locals go about their daily chores, unmindful, not one bit disturbed by all the visitors in awe. Every day is business as usual.

A panoramic view of Bhaktapur
Kathmandu is truly a tourist’s paradise. And for shopaholics, name it, you have it. That too, when what you buy does not pinch your pocket, the joy is double. Even when you don't want to buy anything, you can just walk around the city, meeting and exchanging greetings with locals and people all around the globe. It enriches you and pulls down the walls you have built around yourself, making you feel like a true global citizen.   

Tanka paintings for sale
As always, the best part of our entire journey was reserved for the last. It didn't come till we set out on our return flight. A little after take-off, we noticed that our flight was hovering above the clouds and not moving ahead. Before we could ask someone what was happening, we heard a yelp of joy from behind. It was a man sitting near a window seat, who was pointing to the right. We looked outside and the sight was surreal.

The blue sky above, the clouds below and in between, the snow-capped peaks of Mount Everest.

A view of Mt Everest from our flight
That one sight is what we will hold in our hearts forever. Everest in all its glory. The pinnacle of the world at hand's reach. Our journey was now complete, our souls truly refreshed.

PS: We bid goodbye to our Himalayan neighbour promising to return before long, to catch up on everything we had missed out on.

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