Patan

Today I took a guided tour of the famous Patan Durbar Square, about 3km south of Kathmandu. The square is one of seven monument zones that make up the UNESCO world heritage site. It is thought to be the oldest of the zones, with ties to the 3rd century.

The guide helped me understand the Hindu religion a little more – turns out that there are three main Gods, and several thousand smaller ones, plus incarnations and relations of the main Gods. Around 10,000 all together.

My favourite part of the site was the carvings below of the Karma Sutra. They’re on the Vishwanath Temple – a temple that young men visit in order to ‘learn’ how to be men (so to speak).

In front of the temple are two elephant statues, keeping the temple safe. However, legend has it that should the bird on top of the King’s statue fly off, the elephants will stroll over to Manga Hiti for a drink.

Check out the position of the figures on the bottom of the carvings... the boys of Patan come here to learn...

Check out the position of the figures on the bottom of the carvings… the boys of Patan come here to learn…

Krishna Mandir (below) is the most important temple in the square. The carvings on the building narrate the two major sanskrit epics of ancient India. The first floor carvings narrate the events of the Mahabharata, while on the second floor there are visual carvings from Ramayana.

In front of the Krishna Mandir Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, is a column of Vishnu's vehicle Garuda.

In front of the Krishna Mandir Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, is a column of Vishnu’s vehicle Garuda

Mahabuddha temple was also a favourite, with it’s beautiful engravings. The temple is dedicated to Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, and is often called the temple of a thousand Buddhas because a Buddha image is engraved on every brick.

The temple dates from 1585, but was totally rebuilt after an earthquake in 1934. When rebuilding without plans, the temple was reconstructed differently and enough tiles were left over to construct a smaller shrine to Maya Devi, the Buddha’s mother.

Mahabouddha Temple, the Temple of a thousand Buddha's

Mahabouddha Temple, the Temple of a thousand Buddha’s

And finally, the Golden temple. See below for how amazing it looks, with it gold facade shining in the sun. This unique Buddhist monastery was founded in the 12th century and has existed in its current form since 1409. Tortoises protect the temple, as its official guardians. The main priest of the temple is a young boy under the age of 12, who serves for 30 days before handing the job over to another young boy.

The golden temple, Kwa Bahal, a Buddhist monastery

The golden temple, Kwa Bahal, a Buddhist monastery