City Travel – Hindu/Buddhist Heritage, Kathmandu
The painful history.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It was raining. The Delhi Walla was in Nepal. I was being driven to Nagarkot, a village few miles outside Kathmandu that stands on a cliff and offers panoramic views of snowy Himalayan peaks. The car went up the hills that were carved into rice fields. Women, only women, were working in these paddies.
Nepal felt magical in the heavy monsoon shower. Rain-soaked village children rushed down the steep curves of the road, screaming and laughing. At one place we came across half a dozen women huddled under a large red umbrella. From inside the car, they looked as real as a water painting.
Next, we passed by a Buddhist funeral procession. The mourners — probably from some inaccessible village in the hills — were carrying black umbrellas. They were walking down a hill slope. An image of Buddha was being carried in a palanquin. It bobbed along as the procession crossed the road and went down a slope.
Another moving moment was experienced at the Patan Museum, close to Kathmandu. It exhibits 200 sculptures and drawings of Hindu and Buddhist deities ranging from ancient Vedic gods to the more recent Tantric sculptures. One display board informed the viewer:
After about A.D. 1200, following the establishment of Islamic dynasties in northern India and the destruction of the Buddhist monasteries and university centres, Buddhism ceased to be a major force in the land of its origin.
I cherish Delhi’s Islamic heritage, so it was a sad line to read.
Om mani padme hum