Saturday, March 29, 2008

Eyes in the door

Power Places of Nepal: a cultural minute
Swaymabunath, Kathmandu, Nepal

This is the doorway to the hilltop temple representing the element of Akash or Sky (there are five shrines, one for each element - Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and Space or Sky) at Swayambunath Buddhist stupa.

This temple's sanctum sanctorum contains an underground chamber opened only once a year, which can be entered only by specially initiated priests.
It sure does feel mysterious and arcane, standing in the mandap (front room) of the temple.

It is extremely dark in there; otherwise I would have better photos of the many brass figures and macabre wall paintings (nearly obscured by centuries of smoke from oil lamps).
I believe this same door can also be seen on the cover of Keith Dowman's coffee table book, Power Places of Nepal (which would make a great Christmas gift, hint hint).
Dowman lists 25 "power places" in the "Nepal Mandala" (there are undoubtedly lots more).
Hmm, just cause I'm tired of thinking about The Big Old Mean World for a minute, let's go on a quick Valley tour and see how many I've visited and photographed.

Swayambunath (ab0ve and below)::



Buranilakanth (aka Buddhanilakanth): Officially 'non-Hindus' (aka, white people) are not allowed inside Buranilakanth to view the statue of the sleeping Vishnu, recling upon the ocean serpent. But there is a smaller replica statue of the Buranilakanth Adisesha in Bhaktapur, below:

Kwa Baha (aka Patan's "Golden Temple")::

Rato Matsyendranath
:: Whie I admit to never having visited the actual temple of Rato Matsyendranath in Bungamati, I did witness the Most Insane Pulling Of His Five-Storey Chariot through the streets of Patan last year, like a mammoth Christmas tree on wheels scraping the rooftops and occasionally the power wires.

Kirtipur Bagh Bhairav Mandir:

Whew, I'm already tired. I still have to show you Chobar Adinath, Dakshinakali, Pharping Vajra Yogini, Sankhu Vajra Yogini, Bhaktapur Taleju, Pharping Sesh Narayana, Surya Vinayaka, Akasha Bhairava, Gokarneshvara, Teku Pachali Bhairav, Seto Matyendranath and Changu Narayana. I've been lucky enough to visit and photograph all but a few of these.
That will have to be another installation of the Cultural Minute.
This Cultural Minute was brought to you by the letter OM अ and the number १०८.


c said...

awesOM coverage. hungry for more.

Bernie Quigley said...

Continually fantastic blog. Below, my new on-line book, "Entering Aquarius" - like the inner sanctum at Swayambunath, for the select few. My Number 2 son is going to Dharmsala next fall for a set of classes with His Holiness DL - an Emory student program. If you have any pointers, do email.
Entering Aquarius at: