Through My Lens

Exploring the World Through Photography

Category: Nepal

Myanmar Stupa: Golden Shrine in Lumbini, Nepal

When I knew I was going to be spending a night in Lumbini as a stopover on the way to Chitwan I knew I had to visit the Myanmar Stupa….

When I knew I was going to be spending a night in Lumbini as a stopover on the way to Chitwan I knew I had to visit the Myanmar Stupa. I had seen it in pictures many times over the years but didn’t think I would every get a chance to actually see it. It is located right near Buddha’s birthplace and is the large temple that looks like it is made completely of gold.

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As one of the oldest temples in the compound the Myanmar Stupa has three prayer areas and is one of the most easily recognized stupas in the entire compound.

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When I arrived at the temple I immediately took off my shoes and started to explore the small area. While there is not a lot to see it is worth it to just walk around the stupa itself. At about 30 feet high it is no small monument and the shape reminds me of a totem from the movie Inception.

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I walked around in quiet serenity as I took in the design and style of the stupa, here are some pictures. There were many other smaller structures around the base as well.

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I am not a Buddhist but I enjoyed this beautiful place and I highly recommend a short stop here while visiting the park.

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International Mountain Museum in Pokhara, Nepal

I am a huge fan of hiking so I figured I needed to check out the International Mountain Museum when in Pokhara. I know this does not apply to a…

I am a huge fan of hiking so I figured I needed to check out the International Mountain Museum when in Pokhara. I know this does not apply to a lot of people but for me it was well worth the stop and the 300 rupees to see the history and overload of information on the tallest peaks in the world.

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The Exterior

When you arrive you will see the massive training wall that is the welcome for the museum.

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As you get closer you will see beautiful monument dedicated to those that have lost their lives on the mountains.

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There is also a plaster representation of Mt Manaslu that kids can climb and a big Yak statue outside the museum.

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On a clear day you can see the Annapurna range from here, but this was not a clear day so I couldn’t see it.

The Interior

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The museum is laid out in the following structure. Above is the temple and a section with questions about the area and their answers. Below is presentations dedicated to the gear used, the trash on the mountain, the yeti, the people and first ascents. I found the bottom floor to be the most informative myself, but the temple is well worth a look on the top floor as it is intricately crafted.

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One of the best things about this museum is just the photography that are all along its walls. There is so much beautiful stuff to see here and I was in awe of the photos as I am a photographer myself.

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The gear section helped to remind me how good we have it now with its collection of much of the gear used in the many first ascents over the years. I can’t believe some of the stuff they used to get up the mountains such as old snowshoes and such.

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The yeti section was fun, as the mythical creature was believed to have existed for a while in Nepal.

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The plaque about the Yeti has tons of information about the history then at the end it just says “What people thought was a Yeti was probably just a Tibetan Brown Bear.” I thought this artist representation was especially realistic though (joking).

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I spent the majority of my time in the first ascents section, as this was an awesome place to sit and read the stories / see the gear people used on many of the 8,000 meter peaks. I could have sat here for a while.

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Lastly, the section about the trash was truly incomprehensible. I mean I know it is great to be able to climb a mountain like this, but it really makes me sad by how much it is being destroyed with all of the trash that is left there.

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They had lots of photos to show the trash and some information about 1.5 tons being taken off the mountain in 2003. It was crazy.

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All in all this is a fun place to explore and I highly recommend it if you are into mountain history like me.

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Gupteshwar Mahadev Cave in Pokhara, Nepal

Much like Devi Falls, this cave is located in a very commercialized section of the city and you must walk through a lot of shops before even getting to the…

Much like Devi Falls, this cave is located in a very commercialized section of the city and you must walk through a lot of shops before even getting to the ticket booth. The cave is very unique though, at least according to what I can normally see in California and I was glad I got a chance to see it.

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One of my favorite parks was the beautiful spiral staircase that you take just to get down to the entrance to the cave.

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The cave itself has religious significance for Hindu’s as it is dedicated to the god Shiva so you will see many people with shoes taken off at the entrance and a small temple about 40 feet down into the cave.

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I thought this was very interesting as the cave was dripping wet and many people were walking around and navigating the rough steps with bare feet or just socks.

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As you descend the long first staircase you will see the aforementioned temple.

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From here you continue down more stairs until you get to the start of the claustrophobic part. This area is where you need to bend over to get through the caves, the smallest section was probably around 4 feet and it comes and goes with some sections longer and some smaller.

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This entire section is about 125 feet and at the end there are very rough steps that lead you the rest of the way down.

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Here you are in a big cavern with the only real light coming from the main slit in the center. As you walk down the stairs to the viewing platform you can actually see the bottom of Devi Falls from here as well.

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It was hard to take a photo but pretty cool. In true Nepalese fashion the electricity went completely dark while I was down here as well so I had to use my iPhone light to get me back out.

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All in all the cave is a pretty cool thing to see. You would need more than an hour or an hour and a half to see Devi Falls and the cave as they are within walking distance of a each other, so it is worth a stop if you are into those things but it can be missed if you don’t have the time.

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Barahi Temple: Floating Temple in Pokhara, Nepal

One of the things I was shocked by in India and Nepal is all of the places that they have put temples. I have seen temples in caves, on mountain…

One of the things I was shocked by in India and Nepal is all of the places that they have put temples. I have seen temples in caves, on mountain tops and even on man-made platforms in the middle of a lake, like the Barahi temple in Fewa Lake. This temple, in the small mountain town of Pokhara, is a great stop that is quick, cheap and easy to access.

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History

The story goes like this. A goddess in the Hindu religion came to the village one night looking for shelter and food. Everyone in the village turned her away except for one old, poor couple that brought her in. The next morning they awoke to see their entire village under water except for their house, which is what is now the temple in the middle of the lake.

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To get there you simply walk on the main path that heads along Lake Fewa till it ends at the boat hiring area only 200 feet from the temple itself. The prices are post but be aware bigger more comfortable boats cost more than the small ones. For us it was 100 rupees each, roundtrip to the temple, for the small boat it was 50 rupees round trip.

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After we paddled across the water I was dropped off on the small island where I started to explore the little plot of land. It was not much more than 75 square feet but it had a few really unique pieces that I have not seen at other temples.

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First, there was an overwhelming amount of pigeons that were flying and eating anything they could find. I realized as I walked around that there must be some sort of religious significance for this but I hard a hard time figuring out what it was. You could even buy feed for the birds as well.

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Second the temple itself was surrounded by bells. There were a few big ones on the outside and a ton of small ones all in a line around the temple itself. I saw more than a few people walk around and play the bells with their hands.

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Lastly, all of the religious icons seemed to be covered by wax. It was very unique as the wax seemed to melt on them as if through some sort of ritual. I didn’t go into the temple itself as it was only big enough for one person but it was beautiful.

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After exploring the area you can walk along the small island and take photos of the city, the pagoda and the mountains themselves. It is a great way to spend an hour and is easily worth the 100 rupee cost.

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Pokhara was one of my favorite cities in Nepal and I would love to hear what everyone else thinks of it in the comments.

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Buddha’s Birth Place in Lumbini, Nepal

Right after crossing the border from India to Nepal we arrived in a small Nepalese town known as Limibini. This town is very small, but incredibly popular for tourists as…

Right after crossing the border from India to Nepal we arrived in a small Nepalese town known as Limibini. This town is very small, but incredibly popular for tourists as it is the town that Buddha was born in. Buddhists come from all over the world to see this famous site and many countries have their own places of worship that pilgrims can stay and worship at. It is a beautiful and peaceful place.

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When I entered the shoe free zone I was immediately shocked by the sheer simplicity of the monument. You would think that a monument to someone like the Buddha, that has touched so many people in the world, would be vast and elaborate but it was just peaceful and simple, and I really liked that.

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The area consists of the museum that houses the old ruins of the temple, as well as the thousand year old marker stone which marks where Buddha was born and the nativity scene dedicated to the birth of Buddha. You can’t take pictures in here so I have nothing to show but it is cool to see something so old.

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Outside of this I was shocked by all the ruins they had from so long ago. There were walls and ruins going all the way back to 3rd century BC, it was crazy to see things that old, especially for an american where the oldest thing we have is like 100 years.

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The exterior itself is filled with strings of flags. The five colors represented make up the five elements, and the prayers are specific prayers that are printed to the Buddha as a thanks for enlightenment. It really does add to this place to see the flags everywhere.

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There are two more main monuments in the area, the bathing pool and the pole.

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The pole is set up to signify the area where the Buddha was born in 623 B.C.

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The bathing pool is where Buddha’s mother is said to have bathed on the way to her maternal home and is of spiritual significance itself.

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There are also many signs around the park that have famous quote from the Buddha about life and enlightenment.

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This place is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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While I am not a Buddhist myself this was still an amazing place to see. I loved the simplicity of it and was shocked by how accessible something with that much significance was to anyone that wanted to visit. If you visit make sure to see the other temples in the park as well.

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Hiking to Sarangkot in Pokhara, Nepal

If you want to experience a hike in Nepal but do not have time to trek like me, then I recommend making the trek to Sarangkot from Pokhara itself. This grueling…

If you want to experience a hike in Nepal but do not have time to trek like me, then I recommend making the trek to Sarangkot from Pokhara itself. This grueling hike will give you a taste of what trekking is like while rewarding you with an amazing vista when it is all complete.

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There are many ways to reach Sarangkot but the most popular is the South Trail, which starts at the lake and heads up 2000 feet in about 2.5 miles.

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The trail is beautiful, pretty much the entire way, but it is not easy-going up or coming down. It is also a little difficult to find, but if you try to follow the well-worn trail you should be ok.

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I mean, we got lost a few times on the way and ended up walking through a couple of corn fields before the farmer very graciously helped us back onto our path. There are many ways up the mountain, but this path is almost always stone stairs, so if you do not see those then you are probably not on the right path.

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The path starts in a dry creekbed and makes its way up the hillside through increasingly stunning forest and rice fields.

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When the trees give way to a clearing make sure to look behind you as you will see amazing vistas of the city and the Peace Pagoda below.

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Along the way we also met a dog that ran up and barked at us, but then proceeded to be our travel partner for most of the way. We affectionate called him “curry ” and he did help us find a path a few times.

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Here are few pictures from the hike and even though it is hard I cannot recommend it more as it gives you a picture of the countryside of Nepal.

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Here is a picture from the view at the top as well which lets you see where you started below.

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From the other side you can see the Annapurna Range. It is stunning, especially for sunrise or sunset and there is a little cafe there where you can get a much deserved water or tea if you feel so inclined.

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As my only trekking in Nepal I was thankful to be able to have this experience and it make me realize that I have to come back again sometime to do some actual hiking in this beautiful country.

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