SPA Delhi, Urban Design Department
Before this excursion, I had visited Kathmandu a year back. Back then, I came as a tourist, and viewed only a part of the city. This excursion presented me with the multi-dimensional aspects of Kathmandu, its cities within and their historicities.
Kathmandu is an urban experience that seems frozen in time, with signs of melting. Its an amalgamation of the historic past, a teeming present and developing future. While, many Indian historic cities have succumbed to the pressures of development, with most heritage lost, Kathmandu is a unique case, with not just the elements kept intact, yet, but also the cultures’ associated with them. I began the excursion, on the morning of 24th November, with a solo walk, to explore Patan, and along the way spoted countless frames, some traditional, some modern. The image below, showcases a Falcha, a ubiquitous element meant for resting, deeply interwoven into the habitus of the valley’s residents.
Patan Durbar square, was my next spot of pause. To see a public square so active during the morning, with many simultaneous activities going on, was a pleasant sight. The architecture of the palaces, and their connection with Indian architecture styles, did transport me back to somewhere in North India. Public place and its importance for people can be understood by looking at the way these squares are used by the people of Patan. Not only do they become spots for leisure, recreation, commerce, but also for grand celebrations. As witnessed by us during the course of the excursion, ‘Kartik Naach’ was such an extraordinary event. It was as if all of Patan, had come at once to watch the ritualistic performance, that too at 1 o’ clock in the night. The atmosphere generated was electric and a collective spirit was evident, that connected the place back to its roots.