Visiting Durbar Square in the city of Bhaktaphur in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal feels like going back in time to the middle ages. Narrow brick streets. Towering three tiered temples. Wells for gathering water. Intricately carved wooden doors and windows. Stone statues.
It feels like time stood still here. Until you turn the corner and see a modern coffee shop.
Still most of the buildings, temples, and sculptures in Bhaktaphur have been standing since medieval times.
Except, of course, the ones that fell during the 2015 earthquake. Bhaktaphur was hit hard during the earthquake and evidence of the damage can still be seen throughout the town.
Rand and I sat one evening on the steps of a platform where a temple no longer stood. We looked across the square to a building with an entire section missing, like a giant dragon had trampled it under foot, leaving a pile of bricks and ragged edges.
We spent several days in Bhaktaphur, exploring the winding brick streets.
One day we came upon some women weaving. One of the old women gestured for me to come try my hand at the spinning wheel. I sat down next her and began turning the wheel while she guided the thread through. At a pause, I called the girls over to each take a turn.
As we left, we thanked the lady for the experience. Her friends shouted for us to give her some rupees, so we did. Sometimes it gets annoying when it seems like locals are only being nice to get money from you. But this time I didn’t mind giving a few rupees to a lady who invited me to share in her craft.
In Bhaktaphur, I began to ponder these fascinating places I have traveled that seem stuck in time. I enjoy visiting them, but then (eventually) I go back to my modern life. Bhaktaphur is an amazing place, but I wonder, would the locals give it up for clothes dryers, working internet, and larger homes that aren’t in danger of collapsing?
Perhaps, I have been traveling too long and am missing my modern conveniences and assume others would wish for them, too. Perhaps, I am letting my guilt over what I have and others do not cloud the beauty of what am experiencing.
In any case, Bhaktaphur is worth visiting. Despite the earthquake damage, and maybe even because of it, this town is deserving of your tourist dollars.