Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Kathmandu

Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:21am EST
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By Sam Chadwick

KATHMANDU (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore Kathmandu?

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most of a short stay in the capital of the Himalayan nation of Nepal, which is seeing a surge in tourism less than three years after the end of a long and bloody civil war.


6.45 a.m. - Start your day trying to get rid of any jetlag by visiting the New Orleans Jazz Cafe in Thamel where you can relax in a quite haven out of the back street frenzy. The farmer's omelet or the "absolutely brilliant British" choices are recommended to give you enough energy for the day ahead.

7.30 a.m. - Grab a taxi and head off to Swayambhunath Temple, famous for the bands of red monkeys that have made it their home. With fantastic views over Kathmandu, when the morning mist has lifted, remember to walk around in a clockwise direction spinning the prayer wheels as you go. Many locals visit the site on a daily basis to make odd-number laps of the temple.

10.00 a.m. - On the return journey, have the taxi drop you are Freak Street where you will find a local market of commonplace offerings like singing bowls, prayer wheels, and carved animal statues but bargaining here can get you lower prices than elsewhere. Browse the many stalls and try to avoid being swamped by offers for tiger balm, chess sets and flutes.

10.30 a.m. - Work your way back northwards toward Indra Chowk through the hustle and bustle of the narrow streets past the dentists, butchers, hardware stores and clothes stores that each seem to be tucked into impossible alcoves. If your time in Kathmandu is prior to a trek in the Himalayas, take advantage of the many outdoor clothes and equipment stores. Your route should take you via the Seto Machhendranath temple, one of the most ornate in Kathmandu.

11.30 a.m. - Arrive at Tahiti Tole and the Nateshwar Temple, whose door plates are covered in creatures playing musical instruments. The temple is dedicated to Nataraja, one of the five forms of Shiva, the Lord of Dance.   Continued...

<p>Girls get ready for "Ihi", their first marriage ceremony, in Kathmandu January 30, 2009. The Newar community in Nepal observes the tradition where girls get married to a sacred Bel fruit (wood apple tree), which represents the Sun God. Such a marriage is believed to prevent them from becoming widowed in future. The ceremony is generally performed in a courtyard and involves girls who have not entered puberty. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar</p>