Saturday, March 10, 2018

Patan. The Golden Temple.

Original Post Date: July 6, 2017.

The Golden Temple was a place that I fell in love with on my 2007 visit to Patan.  I was completely mesmerized by all the beautiful statues and statuettes and carvings that I saw here.  Back then, I had yet to visit any Buddhist temples so I had nothing to compare Kwa Bahal and now, after having visited more Buddhist monasteries, pagodas, and temples than I can easily recall, this place still holds a special place in my travel heart. 

The Golden Temple also known as Kwa Bahal and Hiranya Varna Mahavihar is neither golden nor a temple.  It is a very unique monastery that is shining with brass and bronze. But the slightly misleading name doesn’t make it any less beautiful. The courtyard of this Buddhist place of worship is ringed with prayer wheels and dozens of bronze statues and statuettes of gods, goddesses and protectors.

Purely from memory and I am lucky to be blessed with a very good memory when it comes to places (forget peoples' names all the time!), I led Chantale down a side street just off of Durbar Square.  I was certain I knew where I was going and thankfully, a posted sign confirmed that I was indeed on the right path.  I have to admit, I gave myself a virtual pat on the back for getting it right after a decade of being away!

It's a very short walk from Durbar Square to the temple.  You know you've arrived when you see the pair of stone lines guarding the entrance.  The temple was founded sometime in the 12th century and has existed in its current form since 1409.  There's a small entry fee.

The temple itself is a magnificent example of courtyard temple architecture. Two elephant statues guard the doorway and the facade is covered by a host of gleaming Buddhist figures.

Inside the main shrine is a beautiful statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha.

Here are more of the photos that I took walking around the temple's very small courtyard.  There's so much to see here that I swear I can come back another time and come across something that I had not noticed on my previous two visits!  As far as I'm concerned, coming here is like coming to an art museum.  Such beautiful works of art everywhere you look!

On my last visit, I never made it to the monastery itself because I never knew this place was a monastery.  This time, I had to go.  There's a posted sign that points to the stairs that lead you up to the second floor where the monastery is actually located.

In the decade since I was last here, I have been to enough Buddhist monasteries to recognize the prayer hall when I see it.

It was empty here but the candles were lit and the offerings were laid out.

As we entered so did a man whom I presumed was the monastery's caretaker.  He looked and acted half drunk to me.  I decided to keep my distance.  Curious to see what the view was like from the second floor down to the courtyard, I ventured out on to the balcony.  Sadly, it looks like the caretaker has also made his home here.  I have noticed that there appear to be a lot of squatters living in Durbar Square. I'm guessing they were displaced from their homes by the earthquake.  It's heartbreaking to see anyone having to live like this but people do what they have to do to survive.

Aside from Chantale, the caretaker and I were the only two other people at Golden Temple, until this man walked in.  I have no idea who or what he is.  A priest??  A religious man of some sort?  Just a *regular* person?  It was hard to miss him given his colorful costume.  I kept waiting for him to do something but all he did was sit.

I took a few shots from the second floor balcony before heading back downstairs.  I had to even admire the beautiful roof decorations.  Seriously want these in my house!

I want these ornate downspouts too!

We didn't spend too much time here.  There's so much to see that it gets overwhelming very quick.  I would highly recommend that visitors to Patan come here but ideally, you make several trips so you can fully take it all in.  I hope to come back one day and do exactly that.  Until then, it's off to another temple which I know I visited in 2017 but I don't recall all that well - Kumbeshwor Temple.