For a small city that stretches out to 15.43 km, Patan has a lot to offer – eateries, cultural heritage sites and places where you can just relax and spend a whole day without having to worry about anything. When I started writing about Patan in series, I never imagined I would come this far. There were a few places I knew of, while some were suggestions from friends and families – but I definitely got something out of it. I got a chance to appreciate the rich local culture that Kathmandu has to offer and I hope it gives you the same. This week, a continuation of the Patan Nepal series I take you to places that are like hidden gems waiting for a discovery.
Hidden Gems Of Patan Nepal
Expect to be greeted with a majestic gate that leads you to a small alley with shops displaying various items relating to Lord Buddha. On exiting the alley, I gasped. A shrine – a nearby shopkeeper proclaimed it at 100 feet in height – made of clay bricks had Lord Buddha’s statue engraved all over the towering monument. The terracotta structure is a fourteenth-century architectural masterpiece and is believed to be a model of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya, India. I asked the priest how many of the engravings were present – he told me it was 9,999. I tried counting but soon gave up. The warmth of the hundreds of butter lamps kept me from the winter chill while I admired the majestic temple. Surrounded by residential and guest houses, the small platform on the back of the shrine is a fine spot to rest Visit Mahabouddha on a holiday and complete the task that I couldn’t – count the number of statues.
Almaya Fried Chicken
Located further ahead from Sundhara in Patan, towards your left is a small board that announces Almaya Fried Chicken. Let not the smallish entrance deter you from the delicious food on offer. Named after the Arabic word that translates to ‘floating in the water’, Almaya is a family-run eatery and serves Newari dishes and delicious chicken. A place that is frequented by doctors, engineers, locals, musicians, and tourists, Almaya serves delicious, juicy fried chicken in kilos at pocket-friendly prices. Joni dai, the head of the kitchen is the one who revamped the menu –that stayed dominant for the past 22 years- with all the skills that he got during his diploma from Subway. Next time your stomach starts to rumble, visit Almaya Fried Chicken!
Living in a city that was a once a predominantly Newar community, you are bound to know all that the history has in the plate for us to bring us where we are today. Jyapu Samajh, a social organization that aims at preserving and developing ethnic language and culture, opened the Jyapu Museum located toward the north-east from Patan Durbar Square. For a non- Newar like me, exploring this museum was a great delight.
From life-size models depicting lifestyle, vocation and cultural events to the miniature handcrafted models of indigenous ethnic people of Nepal and major cultural festivals of the Newar community – all of it was exciting and educational at the same time. Ravin Maharjan, who looks after the museum complains about the lack of tourists who visit the museum. Even though the museum is aimed at tourists, how about we – the locals- visit this place?
Need a spot to soak up the sun this winter? Pimbahal is the place you are looking for. The largest pond in Kathmandu Valley which is believed to have inspired Rani Pokhari’s structure, Pimbahal dates back to the 14th century. Thronged by the public all year through, Pimbahal was built to overcome the acute water problems in the city. A small shed that resembles a Newari falcha located in the center of the pond, this spot will give you a beautiful view of the pond. The best time to visit Pimbahal is early in the morning when the sun glistens against the water and gives you a feeling that cannot be explained in plain words.
As I end the Patan Escapade with this episode today, I hope the cold weather did not stop you from hunting out for these places that I have had fun exploring and sharing.