I wandered through multitudes of little streets to Darpur Square, the main square of about 25 temples.
A enterprising Nepali (age 33 and without prospects as he kept telling me) acted as a guide… First up a temple where the “living goddess” gets to stay the night in the dark by herself to see whether she is worthy of the title…A little girl of 3 (amongst about 3 or 4) little girls is selected. She has to pass a number of tests (including the latter and also watching various beasts being slaughtered).. to see whether she is frightened or not. If she passes, she becomes the living goddess and lives in one of the other temples, adorned in finery. Her family can visit her once a week. When she reaches puberty, she returns to her family ( so about the age of 12). In the meantime she is carried everywhere in a litter.
Other temples of interest included ones oriented at fertility… those who have trouble conceiving were sent to a temple (known locally as the Hippy Temple after the Americans of the city) which has 26 poses of the Kama sutra around the roof beams, to erm assist in the process! Another temple has similar carvings on the interior and newly weds went there for their education. My guide wanted to know if I had had experiences of the various poses.. and quickly back-tracked when I gave him some stick for the question. It does of course
lead to the inevitable ” are you married” and “it is such a hard life here with no prospects
except to find a foreigner to marry etc”..
The monkey temple had a statue of a monkeyoutside, blindfolded – apparently so that he could not see the depictions of the karma sutra.
One of the other interesting ones was of Shiva in destructive mode. Criminals were brought in front of the depiction of Shiva (also known as the temple of truth or something). Those who lied – about their guilt with respect to their crime – would automatically die. The innocent would not.
The rest of the afternoon, I spent getting a massage (45 mins for about 300 rupees) for my decrepid back, in anticapation of 8 days on the river and the subsequent 17 hour bus ride to come and a haircut (respectively therapeutic and stressful.
It is now the 5th day in Nepal. My second day commenced with a 6am start, riding on top of the bus with Polly, Ngaio, John and James plus boats, collapsed on my bag of kayaking gear. I spent 3hours in a state of stupor on top of the bus, still jet lagged. Just about to put in at Balephi I realised I must have kicked my helmet under the bed the night before (suffering from about a 30 hour sleep deficit). The hardest part of getting onto the river was getting over the smell and sight of what was basically a human
toilet. The side stream connecting with the Balephi was a minefield of human excrement. Stumbling over rocks I felt like the complete newby as the rest of the team looked pretty
Waved goodbye to them and just sat next to the river, surrounded by various locals and Maoists (very small ones) until their captain called them
to march off. A nice cup of tea and some attempted extortion by a couple of capitalist locals (trying to charge me 1000 rupees) to drive me back down the road to meet the others because the 10 day festival could mean there were no more buses. A rare display of patience mean’t a couple of hours later a bus did eventually turn up and some friendly students negotiated a good rate of 100 rupees to get me all the way to the little oasis of Sukute beach where the rest of the locals were…