Thukpa by the Stupa

I almost attained enlightenment as I meditatively ate a steaming bowl of wholesome and tasty thukpa, Tibetan thick noodle soup with veggies, meat and a hint of coriander and green chillies. From my table on the terrace cafe, I had a birds-eye view of the massive white dome of the Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Prayer flags and pigeons fluttered down the dome. The dramatic Buddha eyes stared at me as I realised that life is about moments. No more, no less. Does that count for enlightenment? Anyway, it’ll have to do for now.

I was entranced by this place – the monastery with its Buddhas, the prayer bells, the Buddhism wheel of life, all happily surrounded by shops and cafes. The sublime and the mundane coexisting in perfect harmony. A place I could just ‘be’ for hours and would love to revisit.

But we had a taxi waiting and another place to be, so we hopped in and zipped off to the Pashupatinath temple.

“Look, there’s a couple all dressed up.”

“That’s a wedding. Probably a runaway couple,” chuckled the guide.

Only Hindus are allowed inside the main sanctum so we went in and saw the familiar rituals there.

“What’s happening here?”

Many people were chanting, coconut was being distributed, everyone was peering down at the Bagmati river below.

“That’s a funeral. It’s auspicious to cremate  here.”

Temple for Dattatraya, a combined deity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

And just like that, my daughter and I were confronted with death and its rituals and symbolism. A heavy dose of metaphysics, all in one afternoon, at both these ancient and powerful world heritage sites.

We had a delightful morning at yet another world heritage site, Bhaktapur. We wandered on the cobblestoned Durbar squares, ducked into hidden pathways, looked at the picturesque brick temples and baths, and listened to the medieval Newari and Hindu folklore.

The tallest 5 story temple, a palace with 55 latticed windows, a bath being cleaned by volunteers, tantrik goddess Siddhi Lakshmi, the reconstruction after the 2015 earthquake – all the images swirled around us.

“Look at all this black pottery, Mamma!”

We had stumbled on pottery square where I managed to find miniature temples and Tarana was gifted a baby Buddha by a potter. A charming end to the morning.

A day filled with spirituality, philosophy, ancient stories and architecture, lots of food for thought and discussion. The other days in Kathmandu were more hedonistic, filled with food for the tummy and souvenirs for the shopping bags. More in next post. Not really following a chronological order this time.

About Sandhya Ranganathan

Sandhya is a dreamer, a writer and a globetrotter. She has authored a children’s book, “Mia finds a home,” and co-authored her father, Lt. Col. V.S. Ranganathan (Retd.)’s autobiography, “Burma to Bangalore”, represented by The Book Bakers and published by Locksley Hall Publishing. Her poems have been featured in various anthologies. She currently heads a Technical Communications team in an MNC and is on the board of Manage The Docs industry leadership community. She enjoys pottering around her home and garden in Bangalore, India, with her human and feline babies. Oh, and she loves miniatures and clouds.
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