Rendezvous with your escort. Drive across Bagmati river to Patan (30mins approx). As you enter the ancient city, you’ll be taken aback by the vivid contrast. Although these days it is part of the sprawl of the Kathmandu conurbation, Patan has a history of its own not least as the centre of Sanskrit learning and thus it’s oft used Sanskrit name of Lalitpur (City of Living Art).
The influences here are from every age since, perhaps culminating in the 12th to 16th Century era of the Mallas and their extraordinarily creative Newar civilization. Everywhere centered around the square are noble structures both royal and religious which highlight the Hindu pantheon, mainly of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. Here too is an excellent museum of truly international standard with some superb artefacts from both Buddhist and Hindu traditions leaving you in no doubt as to the glories of the past and well-informed as to the span of civilizations that have flourished and competed here in the Himalayas.
Leaving Patan behind, our drive now leads us to the medieval city of Bhaktapur (45mins approx). As if held in a time-warp, the little city of Bhaktapur amazes everyone. You have entered a time of feudal ways, a place of medieval street-scenes, with a uniquely magical ambiance that confidently pays no tythes at all to modernity.
So it is a place where the eye is instructed upwards to pagoda roof-tops, where the neck turns to peer down ancient alleyways and where one’s own inaction is the perfect counter- point to all the activity around. All one’s five senses are employed and then a sixth Sense of idle exploration!
The definitive building is the 30m high Nyatapola Temple of five pagoda roof-lines towering above the market square. And yet this is merely a centre- point, the iconic landmark, while palaces and temples and shrines, a hundred-and-one of them – nay a thousand-and-one of them – are in constant use, enticing or warding off deities and demons with offerings; offerings which are typically floral and food or percussion or horn music and always and everywhere the incessant clanging and tinkling of big and little bells.
Senses enriched and fascinated, we now make a return journey to Kathmandu (1hr approx).