The New York Yankees had one of the best slogans: “At any moment, a great moment.” That is what I think of trekking in Nepal. Any moment is a great moment, any turn might reveal an unforgettable sight.
I trekked to two of my favorite areas in Nepal: Khumbu region (home of Mount Everest) and lower Mustang (Annapurna region). Khumbu I found had sustained more damage in comparison and it was sad to see the sights of cracked and crumbling Buddhist stupas that withstood the test of time. It was heartwarming to see that the devout Sherpas in the region, were rebuilding their neighbors’ houses first.
Many geologists have assessed these popular routes post-earthquake. Their verdict is that the main trekking routes are as safe as any raw, living landscape can be. Tectonic plates are not theme parks; rocks can tumble, and earth can slide. Be mindful and you’ll come home with some amazing tales to tell.
Another reason I keep returning to Nepal is the Kathmandu Valley. Its sister cities of Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu itself, bisected by two rivers and surrounded by the Himalayan foothills, are jewel boxes of South Asian art and architecture.
I wander down the old market streets of Asan and Indrachowk leaving small offerings at the pagoda-shaped temples. Many historic temples and stupas though collapsed in the earthquake. Now, when you walk around Durbar squares, you see archaeologists and engineers at work. And there is something wonderful about seeing the valley in the process of renewal. Before these squares, buildings and monuments were static. But now they are works in progress and visitors are lucky to witness history in the making.
Boudha, one of the most important Buddhist stupa and pilgrimage site in Kathmandu sustained damage to its tsok shing, installed 49 years ago. I was able to meet with Khenpo Phuntsok Dorjee, the religious leader of Boudha’s spiritual restoration process. I was told that for 20 days, the monks will pray over the tsok shing abstaining from meat, onions and garlic. When the consecration is complete, a team of monks will carry the two-tonne ornament up a rickety bamboo ladder to the top of the stupa, where it will inserted into an opening built within the dome. Then only can the stupa’s rebuilding commence.
“What you are seeing is a good opportunity coming from a very bad thing. This is history in the making. You may not see this again for another thousand years.”
The day before leaving Nepal, I wandered the Kathmandu streets and at a souvenir ship I saw a souvenir T-shirt on a hanger. It held an image of Kathmandu’s lost monuments, and a promise: “We Shall Rise Again.”
It was encouraging to see. Nepal’s destroyed towers and temples were, and will be, beautiful. But they’re not the whole story. Nepal, for me, was never about the buildings. It’s about the people.
The above post has been adapted and excerpted from an original post on www.travelweekly.com. Click below for the full article: