Patan is a veritable treasure trove, a mine of hidden gems that need discovery. This week and in the next few I will revisit old memories and hope to take you along in my journey. The rediscovery of the myriad cultural elements, open courtyards amidst human habitation standing cheek and jowl, eateries, art galleries, and places of worship. Here are four Patan places to visit:
Golden Temple happened for the first time last week. Greeted by a simple entrance which had a beautiful Kalachakramandala carved into its ceiling I could never have imagined all that the small courtyard could hold- magnificent sculptures and elements of gold everywhere I looked. The temple is believed to been built during the 1400s. The low him of monks chanting in the praying room is as intoxicating to the senses. The long chains of gold plates that hang down the roof caught my attention and curious I asked one of the priests about them.
He replied, ‘There are two versions of the story behind the gold chain. One says that these chains acted as a stairway to heaven and were constructed by the rich. The other story says that they are meant to invite the Gods from heaven. Which one would you believe?’ The Newar monastery that gleams when the sun is up in the sky looks equally beautiful when visited in the evenings.
Rato chowk is the well-kept secret that is a seeming oasis in the midst of the bustling Banglamukhi. Located in the premises of Image Ark which is a creative studio with an exhibition space, Rato Chowk is a quiet place for art lovers to meet and find inspiration among artwork. A good cup of freshly brewed coffee best enjoyed with a chocolate brownie that Asmita Didi bakes in her spare time should keep you good company. Image Ark is now exhibiting photographs byPaivi Wells that explores the rhythms of the city and its multifaceted expressions in her own unique style. This is a great time to visit this smallish wonder.
With rising in power cuts, my room usually smells of handmade Ama Candles that smell of lavender and rose. Not to forget the sweet pleasures of taking a few bites from the local chocolates that are made in Patan. Ama, the proprietor’smother makes candles and chocolates which are her original recipe. Apart from this, Melting Pot is a store that bustles with local handmade products – from hemp t-shirts to organic coffee beans and wild honey. This store promotes local artists and once inside, you can enjoy the good music playing in the background while browsing old track records on sale.
I discovered this place last winter. Not easily visible to a passerby with a sign that reads ‘You get special tea here’ on a random wall, one does not expect much while entering the gate that is guarded by statues of lions on each side. The lions are silent sentinels to a courtyard that has a monastery, and a place that offers special tea. This is run by an old couple. The lady says that this is something that has been keeping her finances on the better side for almost a decade now. Settle on the low straw chairs in the courtyard surrounded by old mud houses and a view of the clear blue sky above. Sip on the hot chiya and while away time with friends – your must-do this winter.
This week I leave you with these four discoveries that will make your visit to Patan worth the while.