November 20, 2014

Kathmandu, Nepal

Narayanhiti Palace Museum, the former royal palace in Kathmandu.
Narayanhiti Palace Museum, the former royal palace in Kathmandu.

I woke up past 09:00, had breakfast (banana pancakes with honey and a cup of coffee), got ready, and then walked out of the hostel and to the Narayanhiti Palace Museum. I arrived at the former palace’s main entrance just before 10:30 and was informed that the museum would not open its doors until 11:00 (Winter schedule); so I waited for a half hour, before the gate opened; I then bought my ticket, put my camera and cellphone in a locker (neither are allowed on the palace grounds), and then entered through the security checkpoint. I walked to the main entrance of the palace, with its animal sculptures along the steps, and through the large doors (the “Gaurishankar Gate”, twenty feet by twenty feet, an artfully crafted metal and wood doorway); I entered in to Kaski Hall, which was mainly used for receiving visiting Heads of States (inside was a bear rug and two stuffed tigers in a fearsome standing pose) and then explored the many other rooms in the palace, each with a unique name: Myagdi (tea room), Parbat (a visiting room with a “Visitor’s book” to sign in to), Rukum (waiting hal for VIPs), Rolpa (meeting room for dignitaries and Heads of States), Dailekh (bedroom for visiting Heads of States), Baitadi (bedroom for First Ladies), Acham (bedroom for other families of the visiting Heads of States), Bajura (dining hall for the visiting Heads of States), Jumla (rest room for visitors before and after meals), Dolpa (room for royal family members to review programs organized by the Gorkha Baithak), Tanahun (hall for high ranking royal officials to review programs organized by the Gorkha Baithak), Gorkha (hall with a ceremonial throne, four feet wide and eight feet high, used for the decoration ceremony and to announce the crown prince), Mugu (room that housed the personal collection of King Tribhuvan), Lamjung (a large banquet hall), Gulmi (private office of the king), Dhading (rest room for the king), Dhankuta (bedroom used by the former king, his queen, and – undoubtedly – his mistresses), and Dhanusha (hall used for the “Teeka” ceremony). After touring the palace, I exited outside, and walked to where Tribhuvan Sadan stood, the building where the “Royal Palace Massacre” occurred on June 01, 2001, where bullets were fired on King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya, Crown Prince Dipendra, Princess Shruti, Prince Nirajan, and other relatives of the royal family; the building was razed to the ground after the massacre and all that remains are brick outlines of where the walls once stood; also, bullet holes can still be seen on the wall of an adjacent building, across from a small pond, and near a statue. Next, I toured the gardens of the palace, which were laid out in a somewhat gaudy and tasteless fashion, as if new additions were made over time without a care to the feng shui of the area – the palace was similarly gaudy (it didn’t help that it was conceived and built in the 1960s), but it was more obvious and pronounced in the gardens, laid out in the bare sunlight – simplicity is the keystone of all tastes and sadly well-to-do royals can’t buy taste or class. Finishing, with the garden, I exited the palatial premises, got my camera and cell phone back, snapped one photo through the palace gates, and then walked back to the hostel in Thamel. I bought some beer and chips along the way, made it back to my room, grabbed my laptop, and started updating the website. I worked for hours on a slow internet connection and I finally managed to completely update the digital monster shortly after 20:00. The hostel owner then offered me a brandy-based cocktail (brandy, lemon, ginger, and hot water) which I accepted (it was very soothing and perfect for cold weather). After that refreshing drink, I went out in search of dinner, but nothing appealed to me; so I bought a bottle of Italian Sangiovese and some dark chocolate; I then returned to the hostel and drank my dinner on the rooftop terrace (it tasted of blackberries, cherries, vanilla, and herbs). I then went to sleep.

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