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OCTOBER 16, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 15

  TRAVEL WATCH
Check Into the Past at One of Asia's Grand Hotels
There's something to be said about a hotel that perfectly captures a bygone era, while providing modern creature comforts

Hot Deals
Zegrahm Expeditions is offering something a bit wilder

Hot Spot
Bintan Island is officially part of Indonesia, but you can also think of it as Singapore's backyard playground

Kitsch Report
A captured mountain hideout of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf as a tourist attraction?

Web Crawling
This website is a good guide for travelers who need information about Japan's traditional inns, or ryokan

Detour
One of the most extensive collections of Nepal's architectural heritage

Travel Watch Archive:
Browse hundreds of Asian travel tips

Detour
By MORRIS DYE

Dwarika Das Shrestha, the eldest son of a well-to-do Nepalese family, always had a curious passion for discarded bits of Kathmandu's run-down buildings. In 1952, while jogging past a demolition site where workmen were cutting up exquisite old wood carvings for scrap, he decided to devote himself to salvaging the country's architectural treasures. What began as an impulsive urge eventually blossomed into a full-blown obsession. Shrestha amassed an impressive cache of antique doors, windows and pillars—building one of the most extensive collections of Nepal's architectural heritage.

To display the artifacts, Shrestha and his wife Ambica opened Dwarika's Kathmandu Village Hotel in 1977 near the airport. Its 10 guest rooms are housed in a cluster of traditionally styled wood-and-brick cottages designed to showcase the centuries-old treasures he saved from destruction. Income from the business helped finance Shrestha's continuing conservation and restoration efforts.

Since Shrestha's death in 1992, his wife and daughter have continued to operate the hotel, which now offers spacious accommodation in 80 rooms and suites set around a tranquil slate courtyard. All of the buildings—including business and conference facilities and an elegant folkloric restaurant—incorporate antique architectural relics. Locally produced furniture, textiles and artwork enhance the museum-like quality of the site. In the workshop, visitors also can get a glimpse of Shrestha's enduring legacy as new generations of Nepalese artisans learn to keep the old woodworking traditions alive. Double rooms range from $155 to $195 a night, with suites from $250 to $1,500. Tel: (977-1) 470-770 or go online to www. dwarikas.com. You can also e-mail: dwarika@mos.com.np.

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