In the center of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, lies the city’s main square, Durbar Square. The King’s Palace is here, now a museum since Nepal became a democracy in 2006.
Dozens of pagodas and shikaras are scattered around the palace area, each one with its own centuries-old story to tell.
Our guide pointed to one specific elevated pagoda and said: “That’s the Hippie Temple”.
He explained that, during the 60s and 70s, hippies used to hang out on the steps of that pagoda, strutting their guitars while high on drugs.
They came to Nepal in droves in those days because of the government-sponsored hashish and marijuana stores.
“They lived on what we now call Freak Street”. our guide continued. “Let’s go have a look at it”.
There it was, just off the square on the south side, Freak Street.
Buses transported hippies directly from the airport to the hashish stores of Freak Street.
The availability of drugs and the exotic world of Kathmandu appealed to the hippies.
The government of Nepal eventually decided during the 70s to crack down on the hippie tourism trade.
Freak Street still houses several stores from that era.
But backpackers and trekkers, as well as a few old timers like us, have replaced the hippies and are now crowding Durban Square, clicking away in all directions with our digital cameras.
Welcome to Shangri La!
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