Today began with Meditation with James in the beautiful Pagoda Room which I showed you photos of yesterday.
James has been traveling and living in South Asia for the past 18 years. In 2004, James moved to Nepal where he studied Buddhist philosophy and Himalayan languages at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery. He now works at the monastery as the Director of Development – gathering support forhe activities of the monastery around the world. In 2006, he started a microfinance project in an encampment of street beggars (Quilts for Kids Nepal) which now provides jobs for economically-challenged women and sponsors the education of about 40 children from that community. James has a great hands-on knowledge of the Hindu and Buddhist holy sites of the Kathmandu Valley and enjoys sharing it with visitors.
After breakfast our Guide for the morning, Anil, arrived to escort us to Swayambhu.
Anil Chitrakar trained as an engineer and energy planner and has been at the forefront of numerous projects aimed at economic, social and environmental sustainability in Nepal. Anil was also born to a family of artisans and loves sharing his knowledge of Nepal’s rich cultural heritage. He’s worked closely and tirelessly with local artisans for the preservation of the arts, crafts and living heritage of the Kathmandu Valley and offers a rare, “behind-the-scenes” look at life in the Malla cities.
So we set off on a short walk towards Swayambhu and then climbed up the 365 steps to reach the goal! Fortunately, Anil stopped occasionally to tell us about the various statues, the history etc so we had time for a breather before we set off again 😅
I must tell you that I was feeling just as emotional as I was a few years ago when heading towards The Taj Mahal when I burst into tears the moment I set eyes on The Taj! Having seen photos of these incredible sites and having them on the ‘Bucket List’, it’s totally overwhelming when the of day of actually being there arrives! I’d looked up the hill from the Pagoda Room that morning and there was the golden tip of the stupa shining brightly in the morning sun…..
There is much damage to the stupa and surrounding buildings. Some have been knocked down and some awaiting restoration. The stupa has had some emergency work done to prevent further damage during the recent monsoons. I have much to share about this but for now, a few photos and when I have more time I’ll add more of what Anil shared with us. He is so knowledgeable about the work being done to preserve his heritage – an amazing man!