Kathmandu today

Arriving today in Kathmandu can be a brutal shock, to say the least. Far from the legendary city discovered by the first himalaya lovers, before becoming the "end of the road" destination for hippies, it offers nowadays the face of a soon-to-become megalopolis; sprawling, dirty and noisy...

Though the city sometimes looks as if it just came out of the Middle Ages, Nepal's capital is throwing itself in the modern world, thus becoming one of the most polluted cities in the world. Today, dust and smoke envelop overcrowded roads and garbage-filled alleys where cars and motorcycles have replaced the old rickshaws and bicycles, often making the air unbreathable. Billboards pile up in front of the numerous stalls offering goods of all sorts to tourists - a little too often sold as "traditional" products.

Despite it all, traditions remain strong in this city where the omnipresence of Hindu and Buddhist temples are stunning. Indeed, regardless of the growing influence of the Western world, they continue to see a large number of faithful, like those Nepali praying at the foot of Bodhnath stupa.

 

The importance of tradition is also visible when you get lost in the streets and markets of the city. There, men and women of various origins mingle and exchange, reflecting the social and religious diversity which is the heart of this city and its people: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists… these communities have been living together for centuries in a mutual respect for their beliefs and traditions.

 
 
 
 

The various popular districts of Kathmandu are the heart of the paople's life, whose diversity is the wealth of the kingdom's capital.

Unconventional, the small district of Thamel hosts the vast majority of tourists. There are innumerable cafes, hotels, restaurants, shops and internet cafes which concentrate the energy consumption of a good part of the city. More discreet, small shops in the city's outskirts attract customers with their weak neon lights.

It's only when you get away from Thamel that it is possible to discover the true city whose nocturnal activity remains important. Many stalls, opened up on the narrow streets, remain open until late at night.

 
   

Here is a butcher facing its bloody stall, there a shop offering spare parts of all sorts, there a grocery store offering food, but also CDs and videos...

At nightfall, the many onlookers return home to find here their last purchases of the day. The, the city falls asleep, cradled between tradition and modernity.

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