A short hop, skip and a bump away from the lovely town of Bandipur is the bigger and more famous town of Gorkha. Having a number of renowned palaces here makes this 12th Century town a popular destination for Nepalese tourists. In fact, we passed many a worshipper towing sacrificial goats on the long walk to the hilltop palace. More importantly though, Gorkha is historically connected with the creation of the modern Nepal in 1559 by the moustachioed Prince, Dravya Shah.
There are at least two things that take their name from this region. One is the ferocious Nepalese soldiers who became embedded in the Indian and British armies. The second is beer, “infused with the indomitable spirit” of the Gorkha soldiers. Naturally, we were pretty excited about this second one.
On arriving in town we secretly hoped this tasty beer would be spritzing out of public taps, flowing out of fountains and bubbling down the streets. Alas, not only was the brewery in a completely different part of Nepal entirely, but the beer itself was extremely hard to get hold of in town. We found ourselves stuck with San Miguel and Tuborg most of the time. Bugger! It was only later that we realised the long arm of Carlsberg industries produced all of these beers in Nepal, at that same brewery that was far, far away from us.
Unfortunately for Gorkha town, the massive 2015 earthquake epicentre was close by and this severely damaged the ancient hilltop palace. The restored lower palace in the town remained largely unscathed and this contains the Gorkha museum. This was easily the best museum we had been in for months, even if crowds of locals wanted selfies with us.
This was our last distraction before Kathmandu and, after Nickiy scraped the bed bugs off of her body, we attacked the worsening road towards the capital. At-times selfish overtaking would result in a stand-off between two large trucks or buses and miles of traffic would come to a standstill. This wasn’t so bad going downhill, but certainly gave the clutch something to think about crawling uphill. As we dropped down into the Kathmandu valley, things got considerably worse. The roadworks and insane traffic produced so much dust and smoke, that I actually couldn’t see the stationary cars around me. We inched forward in this translucent haze for what seemed like hours before we got to the ring road. With stinging eyes Nickiy shouted navigational instructions at me above the din. Eventually we bounced into Patan at the south of the city.
Patan is home to one of the capital’s famous durbar squares. Nickiy had visited the square in 2007 but now it was vastly different. About 60% of the temples have collapsed and the square is now mostly scaffolding and shoring to preserve and restore these intricate buildings. With a huge influx of post-earthquake international help, it is fascinating to see the care and detail involved in rebuilding these squares all over the city.
The Patan museum was also on the square and was even more fascinating than the one we’d just been to in Gorkha. Unfortunately our time in Kathmandu was cut short as we had to find a better spot outside the city to park up for a while. We knew we would be back in the city a few months later, so we weren’t too worried about seeing all the sights. They would just have to wait!