Patan Durbar Square
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Patan Durbar Square is probably one of the oldest Buddhist cities in the world. It is believed that the city was founded in the 3rd century A.D. Patan is situated on a plateau across Bagmati River. Another name of Patan, is Lalitpur. This city is known for its finest traditional crafts and rich artistic heritage. Patan is designed and built after Buddhist Dharma Chakra. It is surrounded by 4 Stupas as 4 corners of Patan, one at each corner of its cardinal points. These stupas are said to have been built by the famous Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. It is also said that the ancient city got its name Lalitpattan after the Lalitadhara forest was cleared by king Biradava. It must be remembered that the name of Patan used by Newars in Yala. It is said that King Yalamber named this city after himself. Before Malla Dynasty ascended the throne in 1480 the Muslim Emperor Sam Suddin Iliyas destroyed the temples and monuments of Patan. When King Siddhi Nar Singh Malla ascended the throne in 1618, he started to rebuild the city and Shrinivas and Yog Narendra Malla made further contributions to it. These days one can see the beautiful palace complex and squares built during the Malla period.
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Nepal lies between India and China and it contains Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. The Himalayas here are pretty rugged terrain.
The first civilizations here date to 600 BC in the Kathmandu valley, where the capital is now located. According to Buddhist tenets, the Buddha was born here in 563 BC, incarnating as Prince Siddhartha Gautama and leading the world to enlightenment through liberation from suffering. Many small temples and shrines like this one exist for Buddhists to stop and offer prayers.
Early support of Buddhism gradually gave way to Hinduism and today Nepal is the world's only Hindu monarchy. The kingdom of Nepal was united in 1768 by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who fled the Moghul invasions of India. Soon after that there was a period of conflict with the British East India Company leading to a treaty recognizing the independence of Nepal -- in 1923!
After WWII Nepal was ruled by monarchy but it arrived at the 1990's split by an official ban on political parties. Intense protest by the pro-democracy movement and the Maoist guerrilla Communist movement led to free elections in 1991, only to be followed by violence between the Nepalese government and Maoist guerillas.
Since the turn of the millennium there have been several important steps taken in the peace process, including a new Constitution for Nepal and a cease fire agreement with the rebels. A compromise government was achieved whereby a Maoist was elected prime minister without his taking control of the armed forces of the country.
At the time of this writing it has been one week since the compromise government has collapsed. We offer our hopes that the citizens and government of this beautiful country will come to a peaceful agreement soon.
Text by Steve Smith.