Friday, March 16, 2018

Bhaktapur. Part 2.


Original Post Date: July 7, 2017.

There's not much I remember about Bhaktapur from my 2007 visit but the one thing that does stick out in my memory is pottery square. But I only recalled it when I saw the sign posted on the wall pointing in the direction of the square. I told Chantale we had to go check it out.

From Durbar Square, it's probably less than a 5 minute walk to get to Pottery Square.  The walk takes you down a narrow lane that runs through the heart of a local neighborhood where you can catch glimpses of daily life here.






You can't miss Pottery Square.  The instant you see rows and rows and rows of clay pots drying in the sun, you know you've arrived.


Pottery is a specialty here.  The businesses are all small family owned and operated and a few stores located on the perimeter of the square sold items made here.  It's a fascinating place to just wander about.


The black clay comes from an area outside Bhaktapur - it's dug up from about 10-12 feet below the surface of the ground and allowed to cure for sometime before being shaped into various styles of vessels.  Traditionally, it's the men who do the shaping work and the women tend to the drying of the pots once they've been fired in the kilns.







I stood and watched one potter throw down a big lump of clay and with his hands fashion it into a vase.  Most potters I know would describe the space they work in as a studio.  For this man, it's barely a shanty and yet, day after day, he churns out countless clay items to support him and his family.



There are no luxuries here.  Even the kiln was crammed with pots. I couldn't tell if this was a former kiln that was now being used as a storage container or if the pots were actually fired while this packed in.  I suspect it's the former.



Every inch of public space is used for the production of the pots.  Even the steps make for a good drying *shelf*. 


From Pottery Square, we decided to head back to Durbar Square, wandering past more buildings that suffered severe damage from the 2015 earthquake.  No surprise that people are living in these buildings that would be classified as condemned in many other parts of the world.  Nepal is simply too poor to fully recover what it lost in the earthquake but life has to go on so people do the best they can to survive.












We came across a few souvenir shops located down one of the alleys.  Some handmade paper caught my eye so I popped inside one shop and left with a set of postcards made from the handmade paper.  They will be framed and hung up on a wall in house, a warm memory of my time here.  Even in its damaged state, I love Bhaktapur and I love Patan and I am sure I will also love Kathmandu.  I will always have a soft spot for these places.






Back in Durbar Square, Chantale caught sight of a group of school boys seated outside Teleju Chowk.  Curious as she always is, she had to find out what they were up to.  They were all working on sketching buildings and structures in the square.  You never know, one day one of them might just grow up to either be an artist or an architect who will continue the restoration and renovation of Durbar Square.  She enjoyed interacting with the boys and did not hesitate to join them when I asked her to pose for a photo with them.  She's perfectly color coordinated with them 😁


We made our way to Pashupatinath Temple which is dedicated to Pashupati, one of the many incarnations of the Hindu god, Shiva.  The temple was originally built by King Yaksha Malla in the 15th century and it is the oldest temple in Durbar Square.


Like many temples here, the roof struts feature beautifully carved images, some of which are erotic in nature.....I didn't see any of those 😉



Here we encountered the happy sound of girls giggling.  From their uniforms, they looked to be the counterparts of the boys that we had just left behind and indeed they too were also sketching in their notepads.  Unlike the boys who were not shy about sharing their works of art with us, the girls were a little bit more reserved.  It took a little bit more coaxing from Chantale before any of them would even give us a sneak peek into what they were putting down on paper



They really didn't have anything to be shy about as their works of art were far better than those of the boys. Of course, we didn't tell them this.


They were the sweetest bunch of girls.



Of course, we ended our time with them with another photo of Chantale and the girls....lined up in a row.  I loved their pigtails....all but one had them....must be a popular hairstyle for school girls.


After our time with the girls, we had to leave Bhaktapur for a lunch date with Adärsh at his office. Time to call Sonam to come get us!