Stepping through the discrete doorway cut into the high perimeter wall is to move from the cacophony of a city coming fully to life for one man’s Garden of Dreams that has become an oasis of quiet in bustling Kathmandu.
Even early in the morning people are already securing themselves one of the blossom-laden niches where they can sit and relax; read a paper, chat. Or just do nothing. Others are meandering slowly around the carefully laid out formal gardens stopping to appreciate a particular flower or marble ornament, the fountain or the reflection cast on the large ornate pond. A marble plaque is dedicated to the words of Omar Khayyam.
On the tiered lawn levels, more beige than green after weeks of grilling by the fierce Kathmandu sun, several couples are already lounging on the specially laid out canvas mats, more of which keep appearing, as if by magic.
Located at Thamel, one of Kathmandu’s city centre suburbs, the Garden was created by Field Marshal Kaiser Shamser, a noted Nepalese soldier and diplomat, in 1920 to further adorn the beautiful Kaiser Mahal, with its gleaming white pavilions and balustrades, built by his father. The garden was apparently based on several English estates he had visited.
Although sadly neglected for some decades (during which the poor sphinx completely lost her head) careful restoration work makes the Garden a lovely place to visit, for tourists and locals alike. The Kaiser Café where you can have breakfast or lunch is particularly well situated and there’s also a cocktail small bar tucked away.
Entry is very reasonably priced and you can even buy access to wifi if you absolutely can’t just enjoy the peace and quiet without electronic stimulants. Watch out for some cheeky stripy critters that look very much like chipmunks.