Summary and Explanation of Kathmandu (Quick Revision Notes)

Kathmandu by Vikram Seth

In this chapter, Vikram Seth recalls the memories of his visit to Kathmandu. He visits the famous Pashupatinath temple of the Hindus and the Baudhnath Stupa of the Buddhists. He notices that there is noise and confusion around the temple but the Buddhist shrine is full of peace. He also describes the scene around many small shrines of Kathmandu. He notices even the small details like the monkeys in the temple fighting with each other.

Summary for Kathmandu

In this chapter, Vikram Seth recalls his memories of his visit to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. He describes two famous temples of that city. The first is the Pashupatinath temple of the Hindus and the other is the Baudhnath Stupa of the Buddhists. At the Pashupatinath temple, there is an atmosphere of confusion. He finds priests, hawkers, devotees, tourists, cows, monkeys, pigeons and dogs roaming there. There is a crowd of devotees and people push one another to make their way to the Lord.

Only Hindus are allowed to enter this temple. A group of Westerners struggle for permission to enter. But the policeman at the gate does not allow them to go in. The author finds monkeys fighting each other. The holy river Bagmati flows by the side of the temple. He sees washerwomen at its banks. A corpse is being cremated on its banks. From the balcony, devotees drop flowers and other offerings into the river. There is a small shrine also on the river bank. Half of the shrine is submerged into the river. It is believed that when the whole of the shrine comes out of the river, the goddess inside will come out. Then the evil period of Kaliyug will end on earth.

In contrast to the Pashupatinath temple, there is a sense of stillness at the Baudhnath stupa of the Buddhists. The author does not find crowds here. It has a big white dome. The shrine is surrounded by a road. There are small shops on its outer edge. Many of these shops are owned by Tibetan immigrants.

Quick Revision Notes
  • Vikram Seth visit Pashupatinath temple and finds that only Hindus are allowed for darshan . There is an atmosphere of feverish  disorder in and around Pashupatinath temple due to the crowd of Priests,hawkers , devotees , tourists , cows , monkeys , pigeons and dogs roam through ground .
  • The author sees that the people are performing different rituals on the holy bank of Bagmati River.
  • Next he visits Baudhnath Shrine which seems to him as Haven of Quietness. There is complete silence and still atmosphere. 
  • Tibetan immigrants were selling felt bags , silver jewellery antiques etc  on the pavement of the road . 
  • The author finds that Kathmandu is more religious , vivid and mercenary city .
  • It is the noisiest and busiest city because of thousands of tourists, vendors shouting, playing of film songs, honking sound of the vehicles . 
  • He enjoys his visit to Kathmandu by visiting Pashupatinath and Baudhnath shrine and roaming in the busy market eating corn –on the cob, reading comics and reader digest.
  • Vikram enchanted by the melodious songs played by the flute seller he finds the way of selling his flute was different from other hawkers. 
  • The author becomes tired and feels home sick and decided to return home by air. 
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