Welcome to Kathmandu, capital of the ancient Mountain Kingdom of Nepal. Kathmandu has the air of a medieval city with a maze of narrow streets, wooden temples and beautifully decorated palaces. It is at an elevation of around 1,350 meters from Sea Level is a blend of Geography, Culture and History which hosts 7 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites; Kathmandu Durbar Square(Hanuman Dhoka), Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath Stupa, Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple and Changunarayan Temple. The valley is a mixture of people from around the country with the population of around 5 millions. It has a multiethnic population within a Hindu and Buddhist majority. It is also the home of the Newars. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu.
Pashupatinath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the important religious sites in Asia. It was built on 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings. Legends said the site itself is existed from the beginning of the millennium when Shiva Lingam was discovered here.The temple is situated on the bank of the Bagmati River. It is a tributary of the sacred, Ganges. Admission to the temple courtyard is reserved for the Hindus only but you can still view the complete temple premises and the activities in here from the eastern embankment of the river. You will also see the Hindu cremation on the bank of the river. If you wait until dusk or little later, you will get opportunity to watch the Aarti ceremony with oil lamps. The priests and devotees swing the oil lamps in air, sing the prayer songs, and dance to appease the deities.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square, with its old temples and palaces, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. Here, the kings of Nepal were crowned and solemnized. Interesting things for visitors to see are Taleju temple, gigantic figure of Kalbhairav (the god of destruction), Basantapur Durbar, and Temple of Kumari (living goddess). You can witness, one and only living goddess, Kumari incarnation of Goddess Taleju. She will give you just a glimpse from the balcony and photography is not allowed when she appears. Also enjoy walking to the freak street, which used to be a Hippie Place in 60’s to 80’s. And in an open place, people sell souvenirs. Kathmandu Durbar Square. Most of the monuments were damaged by the Great Earthquake of April, 2015 including Kastamandap Temple, after which Kathmandu got its name.
Boudhanath Stupa which is believed to be the largest Stupa architecture in the world! With an octagonal base symbolizing the Buddhist cosmos, the Stupa is a giant white dome with 13 stepped golden spires and a parasol atop. The Stupa dominates Kathmandu's skyline and is a foremost attraction of the city. This is the centre of Tibetan Buddhism with numerous Monasteries associated with different Tibetan Buddhist schools. This Stupa is 36 meters high in a shape of Mandala which was renovated by the Licchivi rulers in the 8th century.
This Stupa also known as Jharung Khashor as per the legends and associated with Old Poultry lady Jadzima and her four sons who started to build the Stupa. After she died, it took around 7 years to complete and for 5 days, Sun was not set. Heaven was moved after seeing the devotion of people and all 84,000 Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Gods, Goddess and Dakinis assembled from ten directions to shower blessing and flowers on the Stupa. Then they merged in to the Stupa. Because of that, Boudhanath Stupa stands as main root of Buddhism representing minds of all Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas. That’s why, it is one of the Sacred Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites and who ever prostrate and circumambulate the Stupa with pure heart creates Good Karma and wishes fulfillment. This Stupa is very important to Tibetan Buddhism than to Newar Buddhism. It is also called Khasti Chaitya among Newar people of Kathmandu.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan, famed as the city of arts and crafts. The dramatic setting of Durbar Square with its palace, beautiful temples, and the houses with traditional architecture gives you the feel of traveling back into a medieval time. Walk through the narrow cobbled streets with metal, wood, thanka painting workshops, jewelry, and handicrafts outlets lined up on both sides. You can poke into the workshops and meet the artisans if you'd like. You can also visit the religious centers of Patan such as the Golden Temple, Kumbeshwar Temples, and Mahaboudha Temples to watch the rituals and rites there. The temples are testimony of the rich architectures of medieval times. Krishna Temple in this Square was built to honor an incarnation of Vishnu. One of the best examples of stone architecture in the world, scenes from Mahabharata and Ramanaya, Asia's greatest mythological war, are carved on the temple's walls.
Swyombhunath Stupa, which is also called Monkey Temple is the world’s most glorious Buddhist Chaityas situated on a hillock about 77 m above the level of the Kathmandu valley. This Stupa has stood as a hallmark of faith and harmony for centuries with Hindu temples and deities incorporated in this Buddhist site. Swyombhu is the oldest of its kind and is said to have born out of Lotus flower that boomed in the middle of the lake spread entire over Kathmandu valley somewhere around 2000 years ago. It was evolved when lake was drained by making a gorge in Chovar by Manjushree.
Budhanilkhantha Narayan Temple is one of the famous Hindu Shrine in Nepal of Sleeping Vishnu or Jalakshayan Narayan carved from the single stone at the base of Shivapuri National Park in Kathmandu. This stone image is 5 m long and dated back to the 5th Century to the Lichhavis Period in Nepal. The largest stone statue of Lord Vishnu in Nepal, it shows him reclining on a bed of Nagas or serpents in the middle of a small pond.
Among many legends, one legend says an old farmer named Nilkhantha was working on his field. One day when his plough struck a boulder, and to his surprise and alarm, blood started oozing out of the cut in the stone. Upon digging around the huge boulder, he unearthed the magnificent image of the reclining Vishnu that had remained buried in the ground. That’s how the Nayayan Temple got its name Budha(old) Nilkhantha.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur, the smallest and well preserved of the three medieval principalities of Kathmandu Valley. Also called as ‘City of Devotees’ is a Durbar Square with former palaces, temples with rich wood carving and stone sculptures reminds the time of Malla rulers who patronized art like no other dynasty dated back 12th century. The Golden Gate of the palace is considered to be a masterpiece of metal work in all of Nepal. Walk through the narrow alleys, stopping at the temples and Monasteries and poking into the workshops of carvers and painters. You will also visit the pottery square and learn about the traditional ceramic pottery making process.
A short drive from Bhaktapur city through the paddy fields to Changu Narayan Temple situated north of Bhaktapur. This is a multi-roofed pagoda style temple with rich wood carving in the struts and beautiful stone icons in the premises and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple has a 5th century stone inscription which is the first recorded history of Nepal ever found.
At the confluence of the Roshi and Punyamati rivers, and believed to be situated on one single rock, is a historical Newar town that is one of the oldest in the Kathmandu valley. Most of the temples, monuments, and satals (community shelters) are made of terra-cotta and beautifully carved wooden columns. The temples have gilded roofs and wide courtyards, and the remnants of the ancient durbar square are still present in the town centre. Located 32 km south east of the capital, this medieval town is an important cultural site in Nepal, perhaps the most important after Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. The town is chock-a-block with temples and other religious sites. Temples are predominant of course, with there being more than 40 temples dedicated to various deities spread around the small one-kilometer town. One of the largest temples is the three-storied temple of Indreshwar Mahadev which stands at the center of a courtyard paved with brick. Its architecture is an excellent example of Newari craftsmanship as are those of Krishna Temple, Unmata Bhairav Temple, and Ahilya Temple situated nearby in the same courtyard. Other interesting temples are the 17th century temple of Brahmayani and the Krishna Narayan Temple at the Triveni Ghat.
Bungmati Village Bungmati, a laid back Newari village where you may feel that time has stood still here. Walk on the cobbled street through the village with dry vegetables hanging from the balconies, ducks and roosters wandering, children running around, women washing clothes in the public or drying the paddies, and elderly people chatting in the Paatis (public pavilion). It is an ancient village in Patan which is far away from the modernization of Kathmandu city and a living example of ancient Kathmandu. It is the hometown of deity Macchindranath who is regarded as patron of valley.