DP WordPress Photo Challenge – Endurance

My first thought upon seeing the theme for this week’s challenge was the many historic sites I’ve visited over the years. As I looked through photos, thinking to choose a cross section, I realised that in one country particularly, endurance is truly represented.

The Kathmandu Valley in 1992.
The Kathmandu Valley in 1992.

It is said that 2,000 years ago the Kathmandu Valley was filled with a large lake at the centre of which floated a lotus flower. The Bodhisattva Manjusri slashed the lake with his sword, causing it to drain. The lotus settled at the top of a hill and from it grew Swayambhunath Temple – one of Nepal’s oldest Buddhist Temples.

Monks walk the perimeter of the stupa at Swayambunath.
Monks walk the perimeter of the stupa at Swayambhunath.
There are 365 steps at the entrance to Swayambunath, used by all pilgrims who come here.
There are 365 steps at the entrance to Swayambhunath, used by all pilgrims who come here.
The other name for this holy place is Monkey Temple, for obvious reasons. They live here and intermingle with humanity with no fear as nobody here would harm them..
The other name for this holy place is Monkey Temple, for obvious reasons. They live here and intermingle with humanity with no fear as nobody here would harm them..

The Kathmandu Valley was the crossroads of Southeast Asia and an incredible religious mix grew out of Hindhuism, Buddhism and the local Animist beliefs. When the Raj began in India, Nepal withstood it. In return, she was made smaller, but still she stood firm – ambassadors and royal visitors were allowed, footholds on power were not. In the 1950s, Nepal finally opened her borders, allowing tourists to visit, to experience a culture that remained much as it had since time immemorial, largely untouched by foreign influences. With such a long history of Buddhism, it is perhaps understandable that so many Tibetans would flee to Nepal in 1959 when the Dalai Lama took his government and people into exile.

The Primeval Eyes of Buddha emanate from all Stupas. The question mark shaped figure at the nose is the Nepali symbol for the number one, representing the unity of all.
The Primeval Eyes of Buddha emanate from all Stupas, watching over the land and her people. The question mark shaped figure at the nose is the Nepali symbol for the number one, representing the unity of all.

While they settled in many areas of the country, the largest concentration of Tibetan refugees settled around Boudhanath Stupa. Built at some point in the 14th century, Boudhanath is one of the oldest stupas (legend says it was built not long after the Lord Buddha died). Shaped like a massive mandala, it is the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist site outside Tibet and is the cultural home of Tibetans in Kathmandu. It bustles with life, surrounded by shops, guest houses and small alleys leading to more Buddhist temples and shops.

These two were originally on the edge of a larger photo I took, but I had enjoyed watching these two friends in particular as they interacted with the owners of the stall.
These two were originally on the edge of a larger photo I took, but I had enjoyed watching these two friends in particular as they interacted with the owners of the stall.
This photo was a natural follow-up to the last. I didn't know how to use my Canon Fotura to counteract the incredible shadows, so I've fixed this a little to compensate. It was the looks on the women's faces as they took in the scene I had just photographed. I wondered how many times they'd watched it play out.
This photo was a natural follow-up to the last. I didn’t know how to use my Canon Photura to counteract the incredible shadows, so I’ve fixed this a little to compensate. It was the looks on the women’s faces as they took in the scene I had just photographed. I wondered how many times they’d watched it play out.

A country born in the mists of legend embraces all local religions and then those fleeing from oppression.

Kathmandu in 1992, as seen from Swayambunath.
Kathmandu in 1992, as seen from Swayambhunath.

In Nepal today, Tibetans are not even allowed to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday, but they embody his life simply by living and thriving in their own lives. Truly, this is endurance, encompassed by an enduring nation and culture.

An officer comes down from Boudhanath, watched by another officer as he passes the juniper that burns at this entrance to the stupa.
Watched by a sword-wielding figure, he passes the juniper that burns at this entrance to the stupa at Boudhanath.

For more insights into endurance visit: DP WordPress Photo Challenge – Endurance

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