Travel Photography-Nepal #2

Holy Men

Holy Men

Nepal is in the news due to the terrible earthquake that destroyed many buildings and killed over 8,100 people on April 25 this year. The 7.8 rated earthquake also badly damaged many of the world heritage sites in Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur and the other sites in the Kathmandu Valley. A second major earthquake struck on May 12 with a force of 7.3 further damaging the buildings and causing terror for the Nepalese as more deaths and collapsed buildings added to the national damage. For a country with a fragile infrastructure and poor economy, the hardships ahead are daunting. I am happy I was able to travel there a year ago, and have many images of the country before this latest calamity. It was at the end of the dry season, so the air was quite smoggy and visibility poor from cooking fires etc. As noted before, the people are welcoming and friendly, and need to work very hard to survive. Luck and tourists are especially important in helping pay the bills for each home. We were told that the government is quite ineffective in meeting the peoples needs, as the political class serves their own needs first. Durbar Squares in Kathmandu and Patan were quite badly damaged, and are some of the historic areas with buildings dating between 1427 and the 1700s. The Durbar squares are famous for tourist sites and also serve as meeting places for all sorts of people and commerce. These historic places were often the site for the temples and rulers palaces. This image of several Nepalese “Holy Men” or Sadhu was taken at Durbar Square in Kathmandu. The Sadhu are Hindi yogis who are solely dedicated to liberation by ascending to the forth or final stage of life through meditation and renunciation of life’s possessions. They historically live in forests, caves, or Hindu temples and survive with gifts of food from other worshipers. They are most often followers of Shiva and have the trident-shaped tika of Shiva painted on their foreheads. Hashish is also commonly used as part of their path to spiritual insight. It is a difficult life for sure.

P. Miller

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