Doctor Strange- Good medicine for Nepal

This Marvel Comic Book Hero movie features some “strange and exotic” locations filmed in Nepal.

Is Kathmandu about to see an influx of Cosplay fans taking “selfies”in their Superhero outfits at the various locations?

Let’s take a closer look at the Doctor Strange movie locations. Kathmandu and beyond.

Perhaps the question is would anyone actually notice a few more strangely dressed people in amongst the very differently and colourfully dressed locals?

Certainly it’s no surprise that some of the “weird and exotic” Doctor Strange movie locations were chosen.  Nepal is not short of the “weird and exotic”.

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The movie has chosen some of the most spectacular in the Kathmandu Valley. Some of which are already “power places” and popular with tourists wishing to see and experience the rich cultural heritage of Nepal.

                    Doctor Strange film locations, Kathmandu

1. Swayambunath

Often referred to as the Monkey Temple. Swayambunath sits astride a hill on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Kathmandu air pollution allowing, there are great views across the urban sprawl of the city of Kathmandu and to the valley beyond.

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The alternative name comes from the fact that not surprisingly there are lots of monkeys at the temple. Hanuman is the Monkey God in Nepal and therefore monkeys are sacred. The monkeys at Swayambunath are Rhesus Macaques and are free to roam, and roam they do. They are fairly indifferent to the tourists taking their photo’s.

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But, Swayambunath is all the more interesting as it features symbols and architecture from both Buddhist and Hindu religions. In Nepal both Buddhism and Hinduism co-exist in harmony.

By far the best way to approach Swayambunath is on foot and ascend the prayer flag lined stair case that leads from the foot of the hill to the temple. The sight as you near the top of the “eyes” of the main Stupa coming into view makes the ten minute climb worthwhile.

However, if climbing a steep staircase isn’t your thing, a road runs up to the temple around the back of the hill.

2. Thamel

Chances are that if you’re staying in Kathmandu, then you’re already in the bustling area of the city known as Thamel. It’s the “tourist area” of the city and where many of the budget and mid-range hotels are located.

It’s also jam-packed with colourful shops and a whole host of cafe bars and restaurants. There’s just about every choice of eating to be found here in Thamel. Traditional Nepali, Tibetan Mo Mo’s, Thai, Indian, Japanese and even European style bakeries.

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As for shopping, well it’s all very touristy. Kashmiri carpet shops, Nepal craft souvenirs, traditional thangka paintings, trekking gear and clothing (fakes and the real thing), more t-shirt designs and colourful clothing than you thought could exist. In fact just about “everything under the sun” can be found in Thamel.

A lot of the stuff on sale is “tourist tat”, but the Pilgrim’s Book Houseis a cut above the rest. It doesn’t just sell books-although the books and maps available here are superb-it also has lots of good quality Nepali made items too ranging from colourful bed spreads to Pashmina scarves. Everything is priced and at a fixed price too.

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Thamel is usually always crowded with tourists, locals and traffic all jockeying for position and trying to navigate the narrow, unpaved streets. It can “do your head in” after a while, but there’s always a cafe nearby where you can retreat into a quiet garden or court yard and escape.

If its night life you’re after, then Kathmandu will be a bit of a disappointment. Most places close down around 10pm and “everyone” seems to just suddenly disappear. There are one or two “night clubs”, although to be honest they aren’t particularly good. Nor are they that popular either, so you just might find yourself in thereon your own listening to blaring techno and may even be getting ripped off with high drink prices or even scammed.

It’s at night time (when it’s dark) that Thamel comes into it’s own. There’s a touch of the “Glastonbury” in terms of atmosphere and with everywhere lit up bright and colourful, it does have a certain appeal.

3. Pashupatinath

Located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, which is technically where Kathmandu ends and the “sister city” of Patan begins, the temple at Pashupatinath is the most sacred Hindu site in Nepal.

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It’s also where cremations take place and the sight of tourists waving their cameras around and of the locals sombrely cremating their departed loved ones on the ghats here may just make you wonder.

All the same, Pashupatinath is a “must see” and during the day it can get absurdly busy with lots and lots of large groups on their Kathmandu coach tour.

But, in the evenings the tourists are mostly all gone and this is when all the locals come to Pashupatinath to perform their rituals and prayers. Lit up in the dark, Pashupatinath looks all the better for that and not as “scruffy”. So, an evening visit to Pashupatinath is a more authentic experience.

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4. Patan

Separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River, this the ‘city of beauty’ and also known as Lalitpur is an architectural delight of temples and bahals.

These days it’s hard to tell where Kathmandu ends and Patan begins. As the population in the Kathmandu Valley has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, Kathmandu and Patan seem to have merged. Technically the divide between the two is the Bagmati River.  It’s surprising just how many people overlook Patan and don’t bother visiting. It’s the second largest city in the valley, but doesn’t seem to be quite as frenetic as Kathmandu.

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Certainly the proximity with Kathmandu means you don’t really need to overnight in Patan. But, I’d certainly recommend you consider at least a half day visit to Patan.

Patan’s Durbar Square is without doubt amongst the finest display of Newari architecture in Nepal. It’s a concentrated area (in theory pedestrianised too) and very easy to get around on foot. There are a mass of temples both pagoda and more typically Hindu style, pleasant cafes and several Buddhist monasteries to discover. The Jawalkhel Tibetan area is the place for for Tibetan crafts, particularly carpets. Patan is the main centre for bronze casting and other metal work objects too in.

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This article was originally published on Niume (by us of course!)

Fore more about trips to Nepal do please visit our website: Snow Cat Travel

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