My 2014 narrative was dominated by upper Mustang. I must have had thought there couldn’t be a bigger high than upper mustang experience, that place – so barren and yet so beautiful. I was a rare few amongst my peers who’d made it to the Tibetan border; that subsequently turned me into a complete travel snob. But as I recall 2014, Mustang was not the only place I had discovered. Neighboring city next to Kathmandu – Patan, was in fact my very first discovery of the year 2014.
Growing up in Kathmandu, Kathmandu Durbar Square had been an integral part of my childhood days. It was just a few minutes walk from my home in Ason chowk. One of my aunts lived in the Durbar square area and I would go there every possible weekend to hang out with my cousins. I grew up playing hide and seek in Kathmandu Durbar Square, I learnt to ride a bicycle in Kathmandu Durbar Square. My childhood memories are made up of Kathmandu Durbar square. Whereas, Patan, not so much. It barely even crossed my mind.
Fast forward to 2014, when I was home – my parents had moved to a different neighborhood, except this time it was closer to Patan. When I needed to hang out with my friends, Thamel seemed too far. Lo and behold – it was the right time to discover Jhamsikhel – or more popularly known as ‘Jhamel’. A combination of ‘Thamel’ and ‘Jhamsikhel’, mockingly coined as new Thamel. It was up and coming, hip neighborhood of Patan where all the cool kids hung out. I presumed I was one of those cool kids. My quest to discover Patan, began by exploring Jhamsikhel. The clean and cool neighborhood, decent eateries and the hypnotic musical ambience attracted me all the more toward this quaint community.
Jhamsikhel has many options, you can pick and choose from. Some of my favorite places to go eat are:
This is the spot for hot and spicy mouth watering Jhol momo. That’s it. I go there just for Jhol momo, best in town. If you are adventurous, try chicken wings. It was great the last time I tried. Their veg menu is good too.
The first time I was here on a Friday night, had tried Salmon Medallion, I loved it. I thought this place could fulfill my craving for American food. As the clock was about to strike 7 p.m., I heard this guy sing, his music, loved it even more than the food. Music seems to be the only reason I keep going back to this place. I must admit though, every time I went in; the quality of food seems to deteriorate a notch. Nonetheless, still not too bad to try at least once. But MUSIC! music is always 100%. This musician, Dharmendra Sewan has a great personality. I believe he performs every Friday night in Tamarind. That man nails every song he sings – be it Nepali folks, contemporary English or my most favorite hindi movie songs. He is genuinely a good singer and a great entertainer. Check out this place every Friday nights. You won’t be disappointed, thanks to Dharmendra Sewan.
Thakkhola is a hidden gem. My dad introduced me to this place. It’s a great spot to have authentic Thakali food. Most importantly, you get great food, that is within your budget, in squeaky clean cozy atmosphere. The reason it costs less as compared to the others in Jhamsikhel is because; restaurants offering 100% traditional Nepali food do not need to pay value added tax (VAT). Therefore, it gets a lot cheaper for the owners to run the restaurant and subsequently gets lighter on our pocket too. If you are more into Nepali food, I highly recommend this spot than any other places in Jhamel.
Thakkhola, Veg Thali
Patan Durbar Square
From the narrow streets of Jhamsikhel to the main attraction of Patan, one of the world heritage sites of Kathmandu valley; Patan Durbar Square. In order to understand this place you have to immerse yourself in its surrounding. You have to get it from every angle. Spend time and learn about this piece of history through the most well preserved museum in Nepal, inside the durbar square. Also get a good bird’s eye view, from any one of the tall restaurants of the neighborhood. Gaze at Patan in all its glory. Go with friends that you can have a conversation with just about anything and everything, and don’t forget a chilled glass of beer – I recommend, Gorkha or Tuborg.
A 1000-year-old heritage mixed with hustle and bustle of everyday people – that’s Patan for you. I’ve seen Patan Durbar Square in all its shape and form. In the most bright sunny day, to monsoon weather, I’ve seen it drenched in rain and form a mini river. I’ve seen that place illuminating underneath a starry night and street lights. I truly feel like I have seen it all, all of Patan, inside and out.
Patan Durbar Square in all its glory
My admiration for this city didn’t just end with gazing at everyday Patan. I was lucky enough to take a heritage walk with Anil Chitrakar in and around various tiers of Patan. The science behind the architecture of the main Patan square and its periphery is simply mind blowing. What you see today is just a glimpse of what’s to come in next few years. In next 5 years or so, Patan will get a complete facelift. Wait and watch. I highly recommend you to sign up for the Patan Heritage Walk with Anil Chitrakar, and allow him to blow your mind.
Almost all through 2014, I also took a dance class in the heart of Pulchok, again that was in Patan. I have ventured all the way to Patan Durbar Square from my parents’ house and located all possible nooks and crannies and short cuts to Patan. May be I haven’t yet fully uncovered Patan’s gallies as Ason chowk but I know – one day I will get there. Through this post I want to acknowledge the greatness that is Patan. The place that remained unexplored for so long. When finally the moment arrived, I discovered it in such a way that I felt like I was a part of Patan all long. Here’s to the city that helped expand my horizon, to the city I fell in love, to the city that will forever remain etched in my heart.