Day-1; Katmandu-Nepal

I have heard of Nepal and have seen a few pictures of Mt Everest. Nothing prepared me for the kind of experiences that I was about to have when I boarded my plane to Nepal on a ‘Sales’ visit. The closest experience would be my visit to Benares/ Varanasi. I was about to be blown away, not once, to say the least.

I do not want to harp on the plane journey which was becoming bland as hell with my periodic sales meets. The silver lining was the approach to the Katmandu airport. There is supposed to be only one way to approach the valley of Katmandu. So, the approach trajectory of inbound planes will have to be the same. When our plane approached Katmandu, there was this thick blanket of cloud(s), stretching like cotton wisps for miles in the easterly direction. The wisps started to huddle after a few moments signalling an impending obstacle ( no prizes for guessing that the obstacle was The Great Himalayan mountain ranges). I was reminded of geography wherein I was told that if it were not for the himalayas, India would have been a desert. It prevents the cold and dry winds of Mongolia from blowing southward and also prevents the monsoon winds from moving northward. Returning to the sights outside my window, I was able to appreciate a clearing in the thick blanket of clouds and was soon able to guess why. It was so beautiful. It looked like a hanging mass of thick curd which has been scooped clean in one portion, just where planes have to descend to make a landing. As we were descending, I was able to see the beautiful valley of Katmandu unfold with the landscape looking like a piece of rag cloth with abundant green patches in it.

Fast forward to my hotel and the magic had just begun. The hotel where I had booked a room, The Crown Plaza, Soaltee, was one of the oldest and one of the best hotels in Katmandu. It was situated in the outskirts of the city and had a beautiful promenade. Unlike your usual vision of a five star hotel, this hotel was not a multi storeyed behemoth. It was like a monastery with vast gardens and cobble stone pathways. The building featured redstone and looked very quaint, which it was. This hotel is over 30 years old. Interestingly, the approach to the entrance to the hotel had chairs which in turn had thick hides instead of cushions. The hides were atleast 5-6 mms thick. I had never seen leather this thick.

The hotel featured abundant woodwork. The floor were paved with wooden planks which squeaked when walked upon. I found it funny and irritating at the same time. The walls feature quite a few of the fabric work called ‘Thangka’. It is an intricate painting done on fabrics with the help of natural colours from herbs and generally featured an interpretation of the various events in Buddha’s life. The painting had a lot of details and the style was very oriental in terms of the morphology with respect to the characters featured in them. I presmued that they would be very expensive for the reason that they seemed quite laborious to make.

Moving on to my room, I had a huge window on one side which had no surrounding wall. What I mean is that an entire wall was the window. The window had three layers. The outermost layer was a fine wire mesh. The middle layer was the glass pane. The innermost layer was intricatley carved wood panels which were brown with repeated layers of paint and weathering in whichever order you may please. I guess the mesh was a recent addition and the other two layers must have been the original design. Each layer except the outermost one could be opened from the middle in a vertical partition. It seemed quite majestic. 30 years back, when the hotel opened and the concrete plague was not daubing the landscape, the view must have been fit for a King. The room was dominated by darker shades of green. The shade was a very different one. The only object I am reminded of is a bamboo shoot which has not been exposed to sunlight, the one which is very near the ground and in the core of a clump of shoots. The room was soothing and relaxing.

The local beer-‘Gorkha’ was as strong as it was bitter. I was adviced to go to dance bars in ‘Thamel’, but I decided to just relax for the night. What a day?

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One Response

  1. I was almost jealous of you reading this blog. Just wish I could feel the mountain air right now and escape the scorching heat of Bombay!

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