Despite the pollution and the pigeons, Durbar Square in Kathmandu remains the very heart of the city, as rural life and the tourist trade come together like nowhere else in Kathmandu.
Officially known as Basantapur Dubar Square, this is the very epicentre of Kathmandu. It is a bustling plaza in front of the old Royal Palace, and is a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as this Royal Palace, which used to house the old rulers of the Kathmandu Valley, you can see many quadrangles, courtyards, and temples, which today make up the VERY touristy area. Some royal ceremonies, such as the coronation of new Nepalese monarchs, still take place inside Durbar Square.
The picture above with the two bored cows laying on the pavement, overflowing trash cans, and the pigeons mingling with the kids perfectly sums up the craziness of Kathmandu. Better than any other photo, I think that one sums up the Nepalese way of life. However, rather than focus on the present, it is important to state that some of the temples here date back to the 16th century and as such there is a lot of history. The Vishnu and Indrapur Temples were my favourite from inside Durbar Square.
As if to prove that the area in and around Durbar Square is a real community, there are plenty of market stalls, or impromptu blankets spread over the pavement (this is Kathmandu, after all), which encourage you to browse what is on offer from the vendors. Usually, they are very polite in getting your attention, and no hassle is involved at all. I am sure most of this is done for the tourist trade, as, after all, we have much more money than the locals, but it is nevertheless nice to see daily life continuing even while we are walking around with our expensive cameras as we acknowledge life at the very heart of Kathmandu.
As great as some of the courtyards and temples are in Durbar Square, it wouldn’t be Kathmandu unless there was an element of neglect apparent in these marvellous structures. Some natural causes, such as weather attrition, can ruin the temples, but a lack of attention from the authorities make it seem like many of these buildings are left to rot. Maybe that does add another element of atmosphere to the place, but it would certainly enhance the longevity of Durbar Square in Kathmandu if they at least tried to relocate those dastardly pigeons!