|A view of the "Himal" - Nepalese for the Himalayan mountain range|
Nepal happens to be one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. With various tourist attractions such as Mt.Everest, Lumbini ( the birthplace of gautam Buddha ), various holy shrines and trekking ranges, it attracts millions of tourists every year. Located between India and China, it is a land locked country but comes under as ‘The Roof of the World’ due to its Himalayan range containing the worlds tallest peak – Mount Everest at 8848 metres.
I have not been in Nepal as a tourist, but as a medical student and have spent several years there, the result of which I got to look at the people, their customs and traditions, a lot closer than what tourists usually get to. I am a resident of Kolkata, india and going over to Nepal initially was difficult, but the country and its people grow on oneself as time goes by.
I studied in a medical college located at the outskirts of Nepals capital city of Kathmandu located at the ‘Shivapuri’ foothills. The area where it was located was still being developed, hence it was dusty and living there was pretty much a nightmare for me as well the localites. The presence of the hospital in that area attracted a lot of people from nearby villages. Seeing these people was probably the first glimpe of the ‘simple’ and ‘alienated’ life i had perhaps never seen or experienced. They would come from villages far away located in Shivapuri, by foot, traversing distances of over 8 hrs to reach the first accessible medical facility, that was, our hospital.
|Step Farming : A common sight|
People with the slightest knowledge of the outside world, most of them being farmers, born and raised in the hills itself, looking at the city down for years as just bright lights, till they are forced to decend in the need for health. Taking doctors as god and giving them their utter and complete faith and not questioning any form of the treatment was new to me. Their way of life, so different to ours, living in an era gone by.
The term “mysticism’ is not new to Nepal. Due to its vast population of Buddhism followers, one gets to experience the peace and harmony with life which he would not otherwise experience. There are various shrines for Buddhists eg Boudhanath stupa (near our college ), Swayambhu etc. Visiting these place gives a sense of peace to a person. The famous Buddhist chant “Om Mani Padmi Hum” is frequently heard. Monks are seen taking rounds of the stupas holding rosaries in their hands or sometimes during their prostrations. Candles are lit in hundreds by people offering prayers to the gods above. The monasteries with their beautiful architecture and paintings of the Great Buddha. Just by vising these places, a person feels a connection to his inner self.
|The Boudanath Stupa|
Me and my friends used to frequent a monastery behind our college, approximately at an hours hike. Just going there in itself, gave me a sense of peace and tranquillity that I am willing to go back to Nepal for. Whenever I was there, i never wanted to leave and come back to Kathmandu..for i would lose my soul connection again in the chaos of daily life. It gave mysticism a new meaning for me, that I have not found since.