Where I Go: Visiting Mushakraj, a Rodent Icon in Kathmandu

A Gilt-Metal Rat Carries the Powers of the God, and the Weight of Tragedy and Centuries

The city seemed like a mushroom, a cement mycelium inserting itself into new corners of the valley, fragmenting blocks of countryside and then flooding in like a gray tide to drown the green. Each time the aircraft cleared the last hill on the valley’s rim and sank toward the Tribhuvan International in Nepal, I looked around at new neighborhoods that on my last departure—sometimes only a matter of months ago—had still been fields, the most fertile in South Asia as one local told me.

For more than a quarter of …