Turning Point! I Visit Durbar Square, Ancient Kingdom of Patan

I FINALLY finished my book proposal. To celebrate, I took a day off to visit the Kingdom of Patan with my friend Lee who is visiting from India. On the other side of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu lies an ancent city that even now boasts an unparalleled artistic heritage. The Kingdom of Patan, also known as Lalitpur has undergone numerous transformations since its cultural peak thousands of years ago. The city within a city retains its glory as a city of culture, religion, art, history, and a rich fusion of Buddhism and Hinduism that has peacefully coexisted for centuries. Patan is no longer the palace of Kings, but it still comes to life every day, a favorite place to visit by locals and tourists from all over the world.

The ancient city of Lalitpur is said to have been designed after the Buddhist Dharma Chakra, the wheel of righteousness. Lalitpur (Patan) was said to have been founded by King Veer Deva in 299 CE, but scholars unanimously agree that Patan was a well established and developed town since prehistoric times. Several ancient records indicate that Patan is the oldest city in the Kathmandu Valley. In 1934 and 2015 two devastating earthquakes rocked its foundations. Repairs are still underway to restore its original pristine and timeless beauty.

Krishna Mandir Temple.
A pair of lions guard the entry to the Krishna Mandir temple, the most important temple in Patan. Two Garuda birds guard the higher levels. The Garuda is a mythical bird from Hindu legend that is part eagle, part human, considered an aspect of Vishnu, the “preserver”, part of the Hindu triad of deities (Trimurti) along with Brahma and Shiva.

The first-floor pillar carvings tell the the epic story Mahabharata. The second floor holds carvings from the Ramayana, another major Sanskrit epic of ancient India. The temple was built in 1637 by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla, and has 21 golden pinnacles. The first floor holds the main shrine of Lord Krishna with Radha and Rukmini on each side. The second floor is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the third level to the Goddess Lokeshwor, also known as Avalokiteshvara.

My friend Lee Schwing and I spent the whole day here in Patan. She’s visiting from Ganeshpuri, India near Mumbai, where she owns and manages the beautiful Fire Mountain Retreat Center, where I stayed last year. Ganeshpuri is the home of my lineage of root gurus. Now she’s visiting Kathmandu! We had way too much fun together.

Nepali Rupees come in different colors and sizes, so it’s easy to see the denomination. One Nepali rupee is about $.009 US Dollar. To save time, we use the ballpark estimate that 1,000 rupees is $10. My weekly allowance is 5,000 NPR, which is about $50. The Lama gives this to me for my personal expenses, our groceries, and such. Most weeks this is enough, but today I blew the whole thing. I’m totally kidding of course.

We visited the amazing Patan museum in the royal palace. It displays traditional Nepalese sacred art and architecture over thousands of years. The entrance fee to the museum is 1,000 rupees, or $10, so I’m well on my way to being broke.

The Museum store has a top quality book collection. I’m checking out the offerings of children’s books on Buddhism.

I bought a wonderful Tibetan cookbook. Tibetan cuisine is closely related to Bhutanese. It cost 1,000 Nepali Rupees, or $10. Another blow to my shrinking wallet. Ha Ha!

Lee stands by one of the gigantic lions that guard the entrance to the Royal Palace, now part of the museum. I love these lions, and the painting of Mahakala behind it, wrathful protective diety.

We ate lunch at the museum restaurant. It was really yummy – crispy chicken with herb aioli sauce, black rice and veggies. However the lunch was expensive. It set me back another 15,000 NPR. Oh dear, my allowance is almost gone. I’m counting my rupees…

We went to visit my friend Subin Shakya who owns a store and produces statues in Patan. This is a Green Tara that has just been cast using the lost wax method, and has yet to be finished. His wife does much of the finishing.

This is a finished statue of the White Tara, made in Patan in copper. There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into each statue. Subin Shakya sells this in his store for about $500 USD. I didn’t buy anything, but I admired everything.

This colorful sari store caught my eye. Most of the saris here in Nepal are polyester, which everybody wears nowadays. But I can’t stand synthetics. I wanted a cool cotton sari like the peasant ladies wear. I asked them to show me how to wear it. Total cost $13 USD. Oh dear, now I’ve spent my last rupees. Totally broke. What to do?

We stopped into the Inn Patan for lassi, a refreshing yogurt shake with fruit. Lee sprang for this, as I’m out of rupees.

This hotel is an old traditional brick and timber Nepali house transformed into a beautiful heritage hotel by a conservation architect. We admired the carved pillars, intricate window trim, low ceilings, and handwoven fabrics. If you visit Nepal, I highly recommend the Inn Patan Heritage Hotel. It’s expensive by Nepali standards – almost $100 a night, but a fraction of what you’d pay in Santa Fe or Venice, Italy. Yep. Just think about it.

It was a lovely day. But the 45-minute taxi drive home was harrowing – dust, traffic, and a sea of humanity. Total cost $6, thank you Lee!

A Turning Point on my Books – Hooray!

My five-book proposal is up online. I did NOT exactly say the proposal is FINISHED. However it is UP, with a sketch of each item and samples. This is a long-term work-in-progress that I will change and refine over time. Today is the FIRST step in a publishing journey. Now I’m looking for a literary agent and a publisher. If you know someone that works in this genre, kindly let me know. Serendipitously, my friend Lee introduced me to a friend in California that works with agents and publishers. She is excited about my project, and we’re Skyping daily.

Five Proposals: 

  1. Mindfulness Oracle Cards: “In The Buddha’s Own Words” direct from the Pali.
  2. Weekly Mindfulness Planner: “In The Buddha’s Own Words” direct from the Pali.
  3. Children’s book “What Did the Buddha Really Say?” direct from the Pali.
  4. “TimeSleuth, A Healer’s Journey of Past Lives”.
  5. From the Kingdom of Happiness, The Bhutan Travel Cookbook”.

Thanks for checking in! I hope to see you next week.

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