cohn17

May 10, 2012

kathman-two: bhaktapur

this post is rated “m” for mature audiences only.

on day two, we visited bhaktapur, a historic town just outside kathmandu. it’s a living town, albeit a heavily touristed one, and a unesco world heritage site.

the architecture is remarkable. the entry to the historic town (just past the ticket booth) opens onto a wide square ringed with temples and administrative buildings. it looks almost artificial, like a theme park version of nepal. once past this, however, you will find the actual shops and houses.

now, i must admit that one problem of living in india is that i’ve seen so many amazing temples that i’m not eager to take photos of yet one more amazing temple, especially when the light is nearly overhead; the shadows are too harsh and they don’t give the buildings much depth. the two photos in the second row are more interesting to me: they show typical newari architecture, the newars being one of the early peoples of kathmandu. note the beautifully carved windows on even the simplest buildings.

the above disclaimer aside, a lot of the temples here and elsewhere had some of the naughtiest carvings i’ve ever seen, so i did photograph those – at heart, i’m still a 12-year-old. one website lists the possible reasons that the temple beams are carved with such graphic scenes: sex was not taboo in ancient times, and the carvings are a form of sex education; the carvings are a way of contrasting hinduism with buddhism, which preached abstinence; the carvings were meant to inspire people to have children, to increase the size of the workforce; the carvings denoted luxury and royal extravagance; or the carvings would keep the muslim invaders from destroying the temples, since they would be unwilling to come near depictions of nudity. i think this last one is pretty laughable, but you can decide for yourselves.

one website says that the erotic carvings on the temple exteriors were an early form of sex education. if that’s the case, the guys who carved the beam on the far right must have been teaching the advanced placement class.

bhaktapur was great for people-watching, particularly in the side streets.

the baby’s eyes are made up to ward off the evil eye.
there were a lot of men hanging out under covered platforms that dot the neighborhood. the kids above were playing “cellphone” with pieces of broken pottery, and, generally speaking, people seemed capable of making their own toys. and finally, the pause that refreshes (ba-da-bing!).

next: pashupatinath and boudhanath

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