Saturday 17 December: There are three ancient cities in the Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, each with it's own distinctive showcase Durbar Square. Throughout history each successive city builder has not only tried to outdo his predecessor but has also also tried to outdo his neighbouring king. I'm staying in Kathmandu's Durbur Square and Patan is only short stroll south, so that's where I'm headed today.
Once over the non-too-clean Babmati River the suburbs get prettier and, passing a large water-tank, several courtyards open up to reveal an array of Hindu icons and temples. One courtyard accommodates the Golden Temple with fierce stone guardians protecting the gleaming gilded Buddhist metalwork. A small alley leads to the five-storey Kumbeshwar Temple where worshipers poke and stir wood-fires in his honour.
A little further south is Patan's bustling temple complex of Durbar Square. Krishna Mandir is the most impressive, not least because, rather than being built of brick and wood, it's intricately carved from a single piece of stone. Overlooking the temple, with his back to the Royal Palace (now a cafe-museum) is King Yoganarendra Malla's Column topped by his brass statue. Legend has it that if the small brass Sparrow perched above his head flies off the king will return. But local wags have it that if this happens the two large stone Elephants (one crushing a man), fronting the two-tiered Vishwanath Temple, will wander down to the water-conduit for a drink.
Photos of Patan.