I had multiple encounters with Thamel throughout the Nepal tour on different days at different times and speaking from a photographer’s perspective in different lighting. Thamel is the shopping paradise in Nepal.
I first got introduced to her on my second day at Kathmandu. It was a gloomy day where the sky was overcast and it had been raining in Kathmandu for the last few days . Like many travelers I believe that you need to avail local transport in a new city to get to know it better. So I took a rickshaw which was more like the ones that are seen in Chandernagore my hometown though a little more spacious and definitely more colorful.
The rickshaw took me to Hanuman Marg Durbar Square and that’s when I smelt her by lanes and dark allies for the first time. It was love at first sight which kept me coming back to her, time and again during the next few days and even pay her a secret visit on my day of leaving taking a detour at the risk of missing a flight – all this to pick up few CDs of Nepali music by Prem Kumar.
So what makes her this charming and beautiful ? It’s a little world in itself. It has food , music, hotels and night life and mind you this is a full Wi-Fi zone in Nepal . Starting from the food as always, this place is crowded with various restaurants offering different cuisines for all budgets. From continental to authentic Newari meal, you get everything here. One of the cafes that we visited was Helena’s . A 3 storied building with perhaps the tallest rooftop in Thamel, one can either sit open air on 3rd floor or inside the cosy interiors. This is one of the well known joints and the apple cake served there is a must try. As a photographer one must not miss the chance of going up on the roof top and capturing the Thamel Skyline. If you are in a mood to tease your taste buds don’t miss out the various road side joints and cafes. The one I would recommend is Chick N Falafal.
If I may say this place is infested with shops and it is like a pilgrimage for shopaholics then I am not exaggerating. Don’t be surprised if you end up buying an additional luggage after you have visited Thamel. Thanka Pantings (paintings on any form of cloth depicting a Buddha Deity or Mandala ) Tibetan singing bowls , pashmeena garments , attractive junk jewellery, various shapes and forms of prayer wheels , local artifacts , mountaineering gear are few of the must checkouts .
If you are a music lover with an inclination towards different genres of music then Thamel has something in store for you too. Almost every fourth shop is a music shop with an envying collection of music and Nepaleese folk music in particular. We know and remember a place through our senses and Thamel will always etch a mark in your heart for all the music that keeps on playing from the music stores and the people selling musical instruments for kids. Long after you leave Thamel, the music continues to play in your mind occasionally causing you to hum the enchanting tunes.
I have experienced her in different shades and moods and if on your exit from Thamel after the first visit you already plan for the second – let me assure – you are absolutely normal.