After booking passage for your excursion known as Expedition Everest, guests pass around a courtyard and a temple structure. Generally, only with very long lines, are guests stopped back at this temple, where the bells that are just within reach are simply too much of a temptation and can be heard regularly. There are carvings in every corner of this temple, on the stone walls and even into the wooden nooks of the various roofs. The real question is, why would this temple need to be included as a stop along the journey to the mountain?
In 2005, between August and October, the team that would build Expedition Everest took two of their own expeditions, one to China and the other to the Eastern Himalayas. Part of their mandate was to find structures that would be required for everyday life in the region. Homes, public spaces, meeting halls, temples, mountains, and foliage were all well documented on these trips. The temples, known as mandirs, are essential to daily life. In almost every corner of a mandir, you can find carvings of spirits and deities, and many come to these spots for refuge from the elements.
The subtleness of the mandirs’ beauty, and inspiration for the mandir in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, can perhaps be found in the words of the leader of Imagineering expeditions, Joe Rohde:
“…In Patan, one of the ancient cities near Kathmandu, a beautiful mandir rises in Durbar square. It ascends three tiers, though there are mandirs that rise five, seven, even nine tiers. It’s a hypnotic tower of compounded images, carvings upon carvings, rows of detail layered over rows of more detail. Some images are barely visible in the shadows of the overhanging eaves. People cluster on the platform base to bask in the sun or retire to the shade.”
Sound familiar? If you haven’t noticed all of the incredible little details that fill the mandir of Serka Zong, I implore you to visit Expedition Everest and really take time to look up down and all around. If the line isn't quite long enough, go ahead and let other guests pass you by, they’ll be thrilled at gaining ground in the queue and you will be amazed by what you see that everyone else overlooks.