05 May, 2009

Kathmandu’s Struggle towards Modernity


Kathmandu is one capital in South Asia. Permanent residents adapt to the high altitude of 4400 feet for a key regional city. Swayambhu Temple is a complex of stupas that shows the religious harmony here. There are several worship places for Buddhist, Hindu, and other religions. Another popular historical place is Durbar Square. The city’s name comes from the structure named Kaasthamandap, located at the square which means wood covered shelter. Some outsiders and Nepalese have labeled tourism the country’s third religion. The area of much economic activity for tourists is named as Thamel. The thorough mixture of old and new attracts an even more diverse population wanting to explore all the detailed buildings, heritage and current population.

Kathmandu is well known as the base for about half of the expeditions to climb Mt. Everest. It is the tallest mountain in the world at 29,042 feet. It has attracted many challengers for many years. It is on the border of Nepal and Tibet. The Tibetan name “Chomolungma” means “mother goddess of the universe.” Tensing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were first men to reach summit of this giant in 1953. While it is a terrific challenge, 40 climbers reached the summit in 1 day on May 10, 1993. In the past 15 years, People’s Republic of China has opened the northern approaches to Mt. Everest and attracted many expeditions to travel there.

Currently, this year, Kathmandu faces similar problems to other third world countries. These include air pollution, over-population, an occasional lack of basic hygiene, and water pollution. In the tourist districts of Durbar Marg and Thamel nearly all traces of the indigenous culture are hidden beneath the surface. Kathmandu has kept its intriguing appeal even as the number of both tourists and residents grows so very fast. An extensive network of streets was built in the time of Mahendra Malla yielding a rectangular grid of east-west streets and north-south ones.


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