During a recent visit to Kathmandu, I took my friend, Jane, to Pashupatinath Temple. Considered by Hindus to be one of the holiest sites in Nepal, Pashupainath is the location of the burning ghats where members of the Nepal Royal family were historically cremated and also one of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley. I didn’t tell her ahead of time, though, that it’s also one of the best places in the city to see monkeys. After we’d peeked in the front door of the main temple (non-Hindus are prohibited from entering) and walked along the ghats, I steered her toward a stairway leading to an upper terrace that surrounds the grounds. There, a couple dozen monkeys scampered up and down the stairs or perched on the concrete railings.
I motioned for her to follow me up the stairs but she hesitated. I understood. The way they stared at us with their unblinking beady eyes was more than a little unnerving. But I took a deep breath and, trying not to show fright, slowly threaded my way between the family groups. They chattered and never took their eyes off me, but made no move to attack as I quickly snapped some photos. I was particularly taken by the monkeys in the above photo, the mother intent upon her work and the adolescent so content to be groomed. It was only later, when I reviewed my photos in my hotel room, that I saw the third monkey cuddled in the mother’s other arm, with only its eyes and a single pink ear peeking out.