For me, Patan resembles a place straight out of a storybook. With close to 1,200 temples, stupas,and bahals of various shapes and sizes scattered throughout the squares and the fascinating backstreets in and outside the old city, there’s something about Patan that just lures you back, time and again.
A continuation to last week’s Patan Chronicles-I, this week too we explore the nooks and crannies of the small yet delightful city.
With the winter setting in, the sun is a welcome change from grey skies and cold days. There’s really nothing more reviving than a cold, crisp winter day where the sun is high and bright. My favorite hangout to soak up the warm sun is the main courtyard of Patan Durbar Square. Snacking on local badam and oranges, I often sit on the long plank placed at the very entrance of the Patan Museum. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to find a seat here. Wait if you have to because it’ll be worth it. Watching the world go by as children swing on the chains placed as barriers to the quadrangle, while hearing elderly men chatting about how things have changed over the years, can spice up any ordinary winter day.
A place that has managed to stand tall even after the Nabbe Saalko Bhuinchalo (the 1934 earthquake), Honacha has won many hearts. A family business started by Chori Kesh Lal more than a century ago, the thought of Honacha makes mouths water when your stomach starts to rumble if you’ve tasted their delicacies. Merina Didi, who makes up to 300-400 baras in a day, says, ‘The work is very hectic. But seeing people devour some things that are from my great-grandfather’s kitchen makes me happy.’
The boy who has been employed at Honacha for over three years claims he walks close to 12 kilometers a day when at work. Wonder how? With the number of customers who visit Honacha during the lunch hour and evenings make him run up and down the tall flight of stairs delivering orders after orders, leaving him with no time to rest. He has enviable calf muscles that are every man’s dream.
Home to the Malla kings in the 15th century which has now been turned into Patan Museum, it’s an address you must explore. This UNESCO Heritage Site, which is thronged by tourists, is famous for the Mul Chowk, Keshav Narayan Chowk and Sundari Chowk. Each chowk(courtyard) has something different to offer, and the intricate designs and carvings will make you wonder, like I often do, how our ancestors managed to build such intricate structures. After a tour of the Patan Museum, your trip isn’t complete unless you climb up to the top floor and look at the open museum. Have never heard of the open museum? Well, the view from the roof of the palace is nothing less than walking around the museum itself. A bird’s eye view of the buzz in the square and the most picturesque collection of historic buildings that are some of the finest examples of Newari architecture in Nepal is a must-see.
For a non-Newar like me who loves to gobble down the delicious dumpling made of chaku and khuwa, seeing photos of Yomaris all over Facebook during Yomari Punih was painful. Last year, while reaching out to my Newar friends to trade a few Yomaris with anything that my mother cooks best, a friend suggested The Village Cafe located in Pulchowk. A traditional cafe dedicated to Newar cuisine, The Village Cafe not only serves Chaku and Khuwa yomari but has also recently introduced chocolate yomari, which is equally good. The soft and smooth dough with variety of fillings that melts in one’s mouth is definitely my favorite dessert. One piece of information I learnt last week: Ever wondered why Yomari is shaped the way it is?
According to our culture, the longer the tail, the shorter the winter chills!
This article was originally posted in Republica as part of “A local tourist in Kathmandu ” section by author.