On your way from the shop-lined, dusty streets of Thamel to the grand palaces of Durbar Square, in Kathmandu, there is a little courtyard. And in the little courtyard there is a beautiful stupa: Kathesimbu Stupa. It's the kind of place you stumble upon while you're looking for something else and then, when you look for it another time, it's much harder to find than it should be. Anyway, it's worth stumbling upon in the first place, and it's worth visiting again (if you can find it!) a second time.
The courtyard is only a matter of yards off one of the main thouroughfares between Thamel and Durbar Square. And yet, it seems a world away when you're actually in the courtyard.
In one corner are the great doors of the Drubgon Jangchup Choeling Monastery. In the centre is the stupa, festooned with prayer flags, quietly watching over all that happens. Scattered elsewhere there are loads of mini stupas, shrines, statues and sculptures. And in my experience, there is often the sound of children's laughter as they scamper to and fro, skipping between the obstacles. This courtyard is an absolutely brilliant place to play hide and seek.
The stupa itself is a copy of the great stupa at Swayambhunath, but it's smaller, less imposing and more friendly. And there aren't any monkeys. If the stupa at Swayambhunath is a strict headmaster, the Kathesimbhu stupa might be a friendly student teacher - approachable and not too far removed from normality.
Kathesimbhu stupa also shares a similarity with the great white stupa at Bodhnath - they are both surrounded by low rise buildings, enclosed in a little world of their own. Busy streets are close, but not close enough to spoil the experience. They act as a barrier to all that lies beyond.
Walk around Kathesimbu stupa. You might see rice offerings on some of the smaller stupas and shrines that surround it. You might smell incense. You might hear music. You might find that you like walking round it so much that you walk round it again. It only takes a minute. Spin a few prayer wheels. Enjoy the relative peace and calm that is absent from other nearby parts of Kathmandu.