Of all the cities in the Kathmandu Valley, my favorite was Patan mainly because there was traditional Nepalese arts and handicrafts was on display everywhere. When I mean everywhere, I mean everywhere….on walls, stairs and steps, building facades, rooftops, pavement, benches and even in downspouts. Walking through Patan was like walking through an outdoor museum; I found my head spinning up, down and all around trying to take it all in.
Of everything that I saw in Patan, this beautiful silver and brass lintel, which hung above an entry at the Golden Temple (Kwa Bahal), was my favorite. The piece is a beautiful example of repousse work which is a method where the metal is shaped by hammering from the reverse side to form the raised design on the front. Each of the Buddhas is depicted with their hands in different ritual poses (mudras); the center Buddha is depicted posing with what is commonly known as the “earth witness” mudra.
Kwa Bahal is a Buddhist monastery that dates back to the 12th century. It’s worth a visit if you like to see some fine examples of Nepalese religious art. The monastery building itself is embellished with intricate wood carvings and there are many artistic pieces scattered around the monastery’s courtyard.
From Patan’s Durbar Square, it’s a very short walk to get to the monastery though its entrance is inconspicuous. Keep your eyes out for the pair of decorative stone lions that guard it.