Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nepal, Kathmandu: Garden of Dreams, Kaiser Library

 photo DSC_0434_zpscdc69d5b.jpg

These two linked facilities have a history dating back to the early twentieth century, when the British, while not a colonial force in Nepal, were the only Western influence on the Rana government and its backers. The Kaiser Mahal is located across from the western entrance to the former Royal Palace, created for Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher Rana, son of the Mharajah, and designed in Edwardian style.

But that's all in the past. Today, the Garden of Dreams is a welcome respite from the noise and chaos of the Thamel commercial district, even though the entrance fee of 200 NR (about USD 2.00) seems a bit steep. In addition to those seeking simple calm, the garden is also a draw for lovers, whether secret or otherwise, who find little nooks and benches suited for canoodling.

The architecture ranges from dull to moderate, and I must say it's not really a botanical extravaganza. Here's what I shot:

 photo DSC_0433_zpsaa9c0cda.jpg
 photo DSC_0443_zps0ded270e.jpg
 photo DSC_0452_zpsae303770.jpg
 photo DSC_0445_zps42748a3b.jpg
 photo DSC_0438_zps37c4f4bc.jpg
 photo DSC_0461_zps14abb21e.jpg
 photo DSC_0455_zps1e327394.jpg
 photo DSC_0450_zps72a65166.jpg
 photo DSC_0453_zpsd7d9edcb.jpg
 photo DSC_0442_zps76a96e39.jpg
 photo DSC_0467_zpsf20fc990.jpg

Adjacent to the Garden of Dreams, you will find the Kaiser Library. It's free, as it is a public library in the Kathmandu educational system. However, it is around the corner from the Garden, and inside a government complex labelled something like Department of Money Laundering Investigation. There are military police at the entrance, who will ask you what your business is. You just have to say you want to visit the library. Schoolchildren were doing exactly that. So did I.

As the guidebooks promised, this is an extraordinary place. It's definitely a library, even though many of the books are not on shelves in the reading rooms, but in sort of lockers in the halls. But it's the furniture, the nick-knacks and the photos that make this such an interesting spot. Not to in any way de-emphasize the books!

 photo DSC_0474_zps208c7e8f.jpg
 photo DSC_0472_zpsc95b9e9d.jpg
 photo DSC_0475_zpsadc76113.jpg
 photo DSC_0476_zps9036b544.jpg
 photo DSC_0477_zps79622849.jpg
 photo DSC_0478_zps678d0f00.jpg
 photo DSC_0479_zpsf16e152c.jpg
 photo DSC_0484_zpsa7b13a0f.jpg
 photo DSC_0483_zps2bbde8b2.jpg
 photo DSC_0487_zpsd582ae42.jpg
 photo DSC_0486_zpsc8432f85.jpg

The last pic is obviously a memorial to Field Marshal Kaiser Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana, whose personal collection was donated by Her Highness Krishna Chandra Devi Rana as per the will and in memory of her late husband, to form the heart of the collection. It isn't a mausoleum, though, but an active library with children, college age students and adults all making use of it during my visit.

Even a bad library is better than no library, and this one is a treasure!

No comments: