The descent into the capital city of Nepal is almost magical. As the plane approaches Kathmandu, you see the world’s highest mountains peeking through the pillowy clouds. As the plane cuts through the clouds and makes its final approach, you see the large expanse of the city. Low-rise buildings in every color imaginable, situated in a valley just south of the Himalayas.
From the temples in Durbar Square to the back alleys of the quintessentially touristy Thamel, Kathmandu can be an assault on the senses. The sights. The street noise. The smells. It can be a little overwhelming, at times infuriating.
I enjoyed my time in Kathmandu. I walked around a lot. Discovered cozy cafes and local hangouts with excellent food (read my Kathmandu restaurant round-up). After 3-4 days in the city though, I was ready to head home and leave in insanity behind.
It’s easy to draw similarities between India and Nepal, between Delhi and Kathmandu. Being in Kathmandu really made me reflect on how in India we disrespect our rich cultural history by neglecting to care for our monuments. The Kathmandu Valley has 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and they are in dire need of some respect. They are dirty, unkempt, and smokey. Really, we are no better south of the border in India. And it’s a shame because we are losing a part of ourselves when our monuments and heritage are being disrespected and littered with garbage, chewing tobacco spit, and animal waste.
[click on the pictures below for captions]