Get A+ with YaClass!
Register now to understand any school subject with ease and get great results on your exams!


1. I get a cheap room in the centre of town and sleep for hours. The next morning, with Mr Shah’s son and nephew, I visit the two temples in Kathmandu that are most sacred to Hindus and Buddhists.
The lesson "Kathmandu" is an extract from Vikram Seth's travelogue From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (\(1983\)). As seen in the introduction, the book records the journey taken by Seth in reaching his home in New Delhi from a province in China. Kathmandu, the capital and most populous city of Nepal, becomes Seth's final destination before flying back home.
A panoramic view of Kathmandu*
Undoubtedly, the major part of the book focuses on China. Out of the nineteen chapters in the book, the \(1\)st \(17\) describe Seth's journey through China and Tibet. It is only in the \(18\)th Chapter, titled "Into Nepal", that Seth finally crosses the boundary of China. The concluding chapter is from where the lesson "Kathmandu" is taken from. Titled as "Kathmandu; Delhi", the chapter begins with Seth's stay in Kathmandu and concludes with him reaching his destination, Delhi.
One of the distinct features of Seth's travelogue lies not in the description of the monumental places and the ever-popular tourist attractions but rather in the people Vikram Seth meets and befriends. Seth's travel contains several such encounters, which helps shape his understanding of the place and aids in his travel. It is evident from his narrative that he wouldn't have completed his journey hadn't it been for such chance acquaintances. Mr Shah, mentioned in the first paragraph of the lesson, was one such encounter.
Mr Shah was a Nepalese Consul-General in Lhasa, an area in Tibet. When Seth faced a physical obstacle in his journey, Mr Shah suggested him an alternative route.* Mr Shah had spent two years in Bihar, studying international relations at Patna University. Incidentally, Seth had spent about ten years in Patna.** This invariably formed a connection between the two.
As the lesson begins, we see that Seth had reached Kathmandu, found himself a cheap room in the centre of the town, and slept for hours. The phrase "sleep for hours" suggests that Seth was tired. Though Seth had travelled by trucks for most of his journey through China, he had to "walk four days through the hills, then cross the Tibetan border to Nepal on foot".* This explains why he had emphasised on the fact that he slept for hours.
The following day, Seth visits the two temples in Kathmandu that are very sacred to Hindus and Buddhists. The centre of Nepal's history, art, culture, and economy, Kathmandu has a multi-ethnic population, with a Hindu and Buddhist majority. The monuments of Kathmandu City have also been influenced over the centuries by Hindu and Buddhist religious practices. Hence, several of Kathmandu's iconic architecture are its temples. Some of them are  – Durbar squares, Hanuman Dhoka, Hindu temples of Pashupatinath and Changunarayan, the Buddha stupas of Swayambu and Boudhanath.
Coming back to the lesson, Seth explains that he visited the temples with Mr Shah's son and nephew.

Meanings of difficult words:
KathmanduThe capital and most populous city of Nepal
TravelogueA film, book, or illustrated lecture about the places visited by or experiences of a traveller
ProvinceAn area of land that is part of a country, similar to a state
Chance acquaintanceFriendship that is neither planned nor expected, and is usually due to some strange or unique circumstances
A government official of higher status who lives in a foreign country; his job is to protect the rights and wellbeing of citizens of his nation who travel or live in the foreign country, and to oversee the trade interests of his government
LhasaThe administrative capital of Tibet
ObstacleSomething that blocks you so that movement, going forward, or action is prevented or made more difficult
Multi-ethnicConsisting of, or relating to various different races
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. Kathmandu- Vikram Seth (pp.127 - 131). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.
PC: *A panoramic view of Kathmandu: Locus Chand, CC BY-SA 4.0