[Photo Story] Kathmandu; Once The Most Beautiful City in Asia, Now An Open Sewer

[Photo Story] Kathmandu; Once The Most Beautiful City in Asia, Now An Open Sewer
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Meeting people who live along the Bagmati River in the Kathmandu Valley.


Kathmandu was once one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in Asia with its beautiful temples, stupas, palaces, rivers, forests and rice fields. The old black and white photos of the former royal photographers provide us with evidence of how Kathmandu and the Valley looked like 50 or 100 years ago. The Bagmati river was the life of the Kathmandu Valley. Today it is a completely different story. The river has become an open sewer for the capital and its neighboring cities.

I have known Kathmandu for 30 years and also lived in the city in the early nineties. Today, 25 years later, I live in the same area in Maharajgunj in the Northern part of Kathmandu. 25 years ago we were overlooking beautiful water streams and rice fields. The road through Bansbari – the bamboo forest – and the rice fields was wonderful. Now there are just concrete houses and workshops everywhere.

Many migrants from the lowland Terai and the hill districts settle in the capital every year in search of new livelihood opportunities and better services. Many are living illegally on public lands along the Bagmati river and its tributaries.

A girl who lives in a slum along the Bagmati river.
Sorting garbage along the Bagmati river.
Two young women at home.
A Magar girl who lives with her family on public land. The family raises pigs and keeps dogs for sale.
Mother and son at home in a slum along the Bagmati river.
A boy on top of his home.
Settlements in an early winter morning in Kathmandu.
A girl who lives in a tent with her family. Her parents move around in search of work.
A typical suburb in the New Kathmandu.
Three boys at home.
A boy who lives in a slum settlement in the outskirts of Kathmandu.
A settlement along one of the tributaries of Bagmati river. It’s a Magar and Gurung community that raises and slaughters pigs for the butcheries in Kathmandu.
A settlement in the outskirts of Kathmandu.
A boy who works at a fruit market from morning to evening. He lives with his family in a slum next to Kathmandu.
The Bagmati river during dry season.
Slaughtering pigs for the butcheries in Kathmandu.
A girl who has migrated to Kathmandu with her family. They live in a tent along the Bagmati river.
Mother with her baby. While I was taking the photo, the cat sitting next to her was picking on a big fat rat.
Family at home.
Mother and baby at home. She is preparing food for her husband, who works on the streets of Kathmandu.

Well, I just walk around and talk to people and learn about their lives. I learn about society and reality. We talk and I shoot a few frames. It often makes my day.


There are many. But it is always the meeting with people that are the highlights of my photography work.


Canon 1DX and Canon 5D Mark II with Carl Zeiss Otus and Canon EF L lenses.


A bit of editing with Capture One Pro 8.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Rinse has authorized publication of this article. The original text is published here: The Bagmati People

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