The easiest, cheapest, and most efficient way to see Kathmandu is to share the hire of a car and driver. Four of us paid $10 each for an entire day. Our first stop was a heritage city on the edge of Kathmandu called Bhaktapur. It was a festival day so all of the shrines were having a sacrifice. I did not attend but one of the guys said it was pretty gory, and the blood is spread all around. This Unesco Heritage site had a huge amount of damage from the earthquake but they are slowly getting the heritage buildings and shrines rebuilt. We went to see a demonstration of the singing bowls used for medical treatments here. They are different size metal bowls and if you have a sore knee they set the bowl on your knee, then hit on it with a big soft hammer. They believe the vibrations will cure your ails. They told us it works well for headaches but I have trouble believing that, and I was not about to test the theory.
Next stop was Pashupatinath Hindu Temple. This temple is on the Bagmati River, the start of the Ganges River. Here we saw the cremation gats. They are platforms where the bodies are placed, then wood is piled around the body and it is set on fire. The ashes are swept into the river. The body is first placed on the purification stone. Each family member pours a cup of the river water into the mouth to purify the body. The only problem with this is the river is beyond polluted, filthy water with garbage everywhere. One of the fellows I was with heads up the water purity department in Ireland. I can not write what he had to say about that part. The closer the gat to the temple, the higher caste the person belonged to. There are creepy Holy Men who try to charge a bunch of money for photos. I wanted a photo but was afraid to get close to them They are weird and they stink. A wide set of stairs line the opposite bank of the river. As only men are allowed by the gats I presumed these were family members attending the funerals. Our guide said people just come and sit there to watch the cremations. Burning bodies do not constitute entertainment in my life.
We stayed in Thamel, the old section of the city. There was no evidence of the terrible earthquake of Nov. 2016. One kilometer away, at Durbar Square, the heart of Kathmandu, the earthquake damage was incredible. Most of the square was damaged, and anything left standing looked like it would need to be torn down. Gurka soldiers guard many of the places that are unstable. We did see many signs of foreign assistance. Modern construction methods are being used in hopes of preventing as much damage if this should happen again. Kathmandu was certainly an interesting place to visit and lived up to my expectations of interesting and exotic.