I am a person who hates to repeat his mistakes consciously and although it’s not that I have not repeated my mistakes but trying to minimize the same makes me feel happy. When our trip to Kathmandu got finalized almost 45 days in advance I started doing my research on the place from a photographers perspective.
In the past, I have often visited places which are known as photographers delight but have messed up on both the frames and pictures, resulting in low-quality photographs. If one of the primary reason for this was lying at the bottom of the learning curve about my instrument in particular and photography in general but also about knowing how to frame a shot and to have better knowledge on composition. Other than reading about the composition rules and other online reference materials, I started looking at photography blogs related to Kathmandu and then I realized that for a novice there are rare materials available which can act as ready reckoner. So here’s an attempt to offer a very basic overview about must visit places in Kathmandu with your camera and few tips on photography at those places
- Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square
- Bhaktapur Pottery Market
Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square
Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, This UNESCO World Heritage site is surrounded by spectacular architecture and holds the palaces of Malla and Shah kings who ruled over the city. Few of the must see places are Kasthmandap, Kumari Bahal, Hanuman Dhoka and others. Beautiful architecture with local people around will prove to be a delight for any photographer
- Outside the Hanuman Dhoka you will find a courtyard which is filled with pigeons often someone or other trying to feed them. This is an ideal frame for photographers although often used.
- If one wishes to get a top shot covering the courtyard a lil trick is to climb up the mandap which is just across the road and reach the topmost level – One would get a wonderful view and a beautiful panorama
Thamel is one of the main tourist points of Nepal and should be on the must-visit place for any photographer. This is a shopping area lined with roadside shops selling artifacts, pashmina Shawl, prayer wheels and various other items. This is filled with cafes having rooftop view restaurants and also act as a meeting hub for all the trekkers. So for a street photographer, this place offers all that he had always wished to capture. Too many people from various walks of life some as a tourist , some to earn their livelihood and their faces around to fill up the frame.
- On the lines of one of the theories of photography, its suggested spending some time, and at least couple of hours initially in the area without looking through the lens. One will get the frames and places automatically and then should start your camera
- There are too many interesting characters around to not miss out. One must go up to one of the roof top restaurants – Helena’s preferable to get a roof top view and don’t miss out on clicking the Nepali rickshaws.
- Light is an issue in the dark allies, so one should be prepared to carry adequate support lights.
Swayumbhunath – Commonly known as monkey temple, this place is an ideal coexistence of Hinduism and Buddhism. The main Buddha Stupa situated on a gleaming White dome with famous Buddha eyes, the ever smiling Buddhist monks, prayer wheels and swirling of prayer wheels all are worth capturing. The dark colored robes and the ever smiling faces of the monks provide a different flavor to the pictures.
- Few of the must take shots here are the swirling prayer wheels and monks moving around them, the artifacts shop, the courtyard, the painting shops.
- One must try to visit here during the early mornings or during the night to get a chance to capture the surroundings at the time of the prayer.
- As the Buddha stupas are too tall and one just cannot miss taking a picture of the Buddha’s eyes with the third eye at the same level the trick is to get into one of the cafes were on request you can get on to the terrace and get a safe shot of the same.
Boudhanath – This is Asia’s largest Buddhist Stupa and one cannot afford to miss this at all. Pilgrims on a daily ritual walk, monks wandering around the prayer flag-decked streets with prayer bids in their hands, occasional prayers all are worth to give the shutter a chance. This place is also crowded with different stores which sell different interesting items. The must visit are Shechen Tennyi Dargeyllong Gumpa and other Gumpas around. If one is visiting in the morning then a cup of hot brewing coffee at Café Du Temple is strongly recommended
- Please explore the place and spend at least 3 – 4 hours on a morning and an evening
- Exploring is key as there are small bylanes which offer interesting compositions
- Don’t miss out o getting up on the Gumpha and taking pictures of the Stupa from there. The people and monks are friendly and the camera can be safely used.
- They allow you to shoot inside the Gumpha. Hence it’s best not to let go of the chance at all.
Bhaktapur Pottery Market
Bhaktapur Pottery Market – While Bhaktapur Durbar Square should have made it to the list and many may raise an eyebrow on why the Pottery market and not the Durbar Square I feel from a photographers perspective the pottery market is more interesting than in terms of subjects available for photography . This place Is full of potter’s wheels and rows of clay pots drying in the sun .Being the hub of Ceramic industry this is filled with various shops which are selling finished products also
- Ideal time to visit is during the 8 – 10 am in the morning before the sun is high in the sky
- Try to cover an entire process and as they won’t allow to get very near to the actual manufacturing process so using/carrying a tele lens is suggested
- From the back of the pottery market roam around the narrow streets of Bhaktapur again you will find lots of people and subject worth capturing
I have compiled this list based on my experience and perception. Although I would have loved to include more places like Pashupatinath temple, Garden of Dreams and other but time space and words are always limited so I tried to identify and share the best 5 places where a photographer will have delight and ecstasy and obviously best of the shots.