Kathmandu is situated in a bowl shaped valley wwin central Nepal. The Kingdom extends about 885 km. east to west and 193 km. in width north to south. The entire terrain is like a steep incline, descending from the icy Himalayan heights to the hot Terai flatland within a short distance.
The city of Kathmandu is a melting pot for the nations population not only today but also in the yester years. Perhaps that is the reason behind the rich cultural heritage of the city. Kathmandu with its unique architectural heritage, palaces, temples and courtyards has inspired many writers, artisits, and poets both foreign and Nepalese. It boasts a unique symbiosis of Hinduism, Buddhism as well as Tantrism in its culture which is still alive today as it was hundreds of years ago. The relegious influence can be openly seen in the city.
The square is the complex of palaces, courtyards and temples that are built between the 12th and the 18th centuries by the ancient Malla Kings of Nepal. It is the social, religious and urban focal point of the city. Taleju Temple, Kal Bhairab (God of Destruction), Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chowk, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Big Drum and the Jagnnath Temple are some of the interesting things to see in this Square. An intriguing piece here is the 17 th century stone inscription that is set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.It is believed that if anybody deciphers this entire inscription, the milk would flow from the spout, which lies just below the inscripted stone wall. Some people say that the inscription contains coded directions to a treasure King Pratap Malla has buried beneath Mohan chowk of Durbar Square.
There are several museums inside the palace building. There is an entrance feeof Rs. 250 for all the foreign visitors to visit all the museums of the palace building.
This is a three-storey temple situated in the main Market Avenue called Indra Chowk. The image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra (the God of Indra). The festival of Indra falls on monsoon season of Nepal.
The temple or the residence of Living Goddess, Kumari, is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The building has beautifully carved wooden balconies and window screens. The Kumari- the living Goddess acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window. Photography is prohibited.
King Laxmi Narsingha Malla built this temple in the sixteenth century. It is said to be constructed from the wood of single tree. It is located near the temple of Kumari. Indeed the city of Kathmandu derives its name from this temple. Behind Kasthamandap, there is a small but a very important temple of Ashok Vinayak, also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh.
Five minutes from Kasthmandap the Shiva Temple of Jaishi Dewal is famous for its erotic carvings. It is still one of the main tourist routes of the chariot festivals of Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra and other festivals.
It is at the eastern edge of the Tudikhel, near Shahid Gate. This temple is one of the main "Shankta or Shaktipeeth" temples of Kathmandu City.
A grand imposing palace built on the neo-classical style. It was the private residence of Rana Prime Minister. Now it's the Secretariat of His Majesty's Government of Nepal.
It is the Royal Palace of present King, His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shahdev of Nepal. The Shah kings moved to this palace from their old palace in the late 18th century. The new edifice was inaugurated in 1970 on the occasion of the wedding of His Majesty king Birendra Bir Bikram Shahdev. The palace takes its name from the Narayanhiti, a famous historic waterspout situated at the southern corner of the Palace. The Palace compound is immense, surrounded by high walls and guarded by soldiers.
The most ancient and enigmatic of all the Valley's holy shrines lies 2 km west of Kathmandu city, across the Vishnumati river. The golden spire of Swayambhunath stupa crowns a wooded hillock and offers a commanding view of Kathmandu city. On clear days, one can even view a line of Himalayan peaks. The view is splendid at dusk as city lights flicker one by one, and even better when a full moon hangs in the sky.
The establishment of Swayambhunath Stupa goes back to the legendary beginning of the Kathmandu Valley.The legend says that when the bodhisattva Manjushri drained the waters of the lake to reveal the Kathmandu valley, the lotus of the lake was transformed into the hillock and the blazing light became the Swayambhu stupa.
Swayambhunath stupa is a World Heritage Site. One can get to Swayambhu by taxi or bike or have a nice short walk from the Kathmandu city, leaving the hustle and bustle of the city for the quieter neighborhood on the banks of the Vishnumati river. The main gate of the stupa leads to the steep stairs, which is indeed a traditional ancient pilgrim route.. It's really wonderful to climb up the worn stone steps, 365 in all,that leads straight up to the top, where Swayambhunath's painted eyes peer down at all comers. If one doesn't want to climb all these stairs, one can go around the south side of the hill where you will find a small parking area for taxis and tourist bus.
Once one is in the site of Swayambhunath, one can explore the hillock and visit a small stupa of Manjushri too. Entrance fee Rs.50 for overseas visitors. (SAARC nationals Rs. 30)
It is situated below Nagarjun Hill about five-kilometer northwest of Kathmandu City. The garden is known for its bank of 22 stone waterspouts (hiti) carved in the shape of sea-dragons. It also consists of religious shrines, fishponds and a replica of the statue of Budhanilkantha. . There is also a swimming pool inside the park.
Situated below Shivapuri hill at the northern end of the valley, Buddhanilkantha temple is 9 km from Kathmandu city. The temple consists of a pond in which lies a great stone figure of the Hindu god Vishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent. The huge statue of sleeping Vishnu is carved from the single block of black stone of a type not found in the valley. It is believed that ages before the two hardworking farmers (husband and wife) discovered the statue when they were ploughing their field.
Besides Budhanilkantha temple, there are other two sets of exactly similar, but smaller statues of 'sleeping Vishnu' in the Valley. One set is in the Balaju garden and the other is hidden in the old garden of Hanuman Dhoka Palace of Kathmandu city. A prophetic dream of King Pratap Malla generated the belief that the King of Nepal should never visit Buddhanilkantha temple on threat of death. He then built the similar statue in two places. The huge massive statue is one of the finest masterpiece of art that should be seen. One can get to the temple by hike, bike, taxi or take a public bus from bus stop at Kathmandu city or catch a three- wheeler tempo to Budhanilkantha from Jamal at Kathmandu. It takes around an hour from Kathmandu to reach here. Early morning is the best time to visit the temple. The priest performs daily puja around nine o' clock in the morning
It is the biggest stupa in the Valley. The stupa, well known as Khasti, is also known as the World Heritage Site. It looms 36 meters high and presents one of the most fascinating specimens of stupa design. There are more than 45 Buddhist monasteries in the area. It lies about 6 km to the east of downtown Kathmandu. The Bouddha Area Preservation& Development Committee runs an information center.
The temple of Pashupatinath is Nepal's most scared Hindu shrines and one of the subcontinent's greatest Shiva sites, a sprawling collection of temples, ashrams, images and inscriptions raised over the centuries along the banks of the sacred Bagmati river. The richly- ornamented pagoda, houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Chronicles indicate the temlple's existence prior to 400 A.D, but a shrine may have stood here nearly 1000 years before that. Legend says that Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unkown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him , and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga and overtime was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath. The temple complex has been renovated and improved over the centuries. Entrance to the shrine is only restricted to Hindus, however, one can still get the good view of the sacred temple from vantage points across Bagmati river. Across the river, one can also visit the temple of Guhyeshwori and a classic 6th century ekmukhi "one-faced" linga of Shiva.The temple is a World Heritage site, that lies 5 km east of the Kathmandu city. One can reach there by bike, taxi or take a bus from the bus stop at Kathmandu city to Gaushala. The other option is to take a three-wheeler tempoes to Chabhil from the city. It doesn't take more than forty minutes to reach here from the city. Early morning and evening, the prime puja (worshipping) hours, is the best time to visit this magnificent temple.
Pashupatinath is also Nepal's most renowned Hindu creamtion site.
Situated about ten-kilometer northeast of Kathmandu, this lovely Royal Game Sanctuary is also well known as Gokarna Safari Park. Many wild animals like spotted dear can be viewed in the sanctuary from an elephant bank. On the northern side of Gokarna is a pagoda of Gokarneshwor Mahadev.
It is a typical Newari town with many fine old buildings and temples. Beyond the village, up a long flight of stone stairs, is Bajra Jogini, a historical temple with a beautiful view of the local area.
It is a famous for its scenic beauty. There are magnificent waterfalls, cataracts and rock formations. It is an ideal place for picnic requiring a short walk after the motorable road.
It lies on a ridge over looking the Valley, about twelve-kilometer to the east of the city. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. The scared complex is a World Heritage Site. It has one of the finest and oldest specimens of pagoda architecture that is embellished with exquisite wood and stone carvings.
It is a small town, situated on a ridge 6-km southwest of Kathmandu. The ancient township is a natural fortress and has a proud and courageous history. The Chilamchu stupa and the temple of Bagh Bhairav are major sights here. The city offers quaint streets lined with artistic houses and temple squares. The people are known for their skill in building and weaving.
Situated nine-kilometer southwest of Kathmandu, this place is famous for its gorge. All the water of the valley drain through it. There is a small but picturesque temple of Adinath on the top of a hill. From this top one can have a panoramic view of snow capped mountain peaks.
The temple of Dakshinkali is situated about two kilometers south of Shekha Narayan. Dakshinkali is regarded as one of the most important Hindu Goddesses. Pilgrims visit this temple to offer their prayer and animal sacrifices to the goddess. Besides, this place has been developed as a popular picnic spot.
This museum is located at Chhauni near Swayambhu. It offers breathtaking bronzes and a rich collection of paubha scroll paintings. It also has an extraordinary collection of ancient firearms, leather cannons and relics of the Great Earthquake of 1934. The museum opens daily, except on Sundays, Mondays and government holidays, from 9.30 am to 3.30 PM. Entrance fee Rs.10 for SAARC nationals and Rs.50 for other overseas visitors. An extra Rs. 50 for cameras. (Tel: 977 1 271478)
This museum is behind the Swayambhu stupa. The museum contains animals, butterflies and plants. Stuffed animals, birds and crocodiles are some of the main attractions of the museum. It opens daily, except Saturdays and holidays, from 10 am to 4 PM. The entrance fee is Rs. 20 and an additional Rs. 20 for cameras. (Tel: 977 1 271899)
Collections of a single man, Kaiser Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana (1891 - 1964) adorn this palatial building near Thamel. The repertoire of books here (over 45,000) covers as unrelated topics as astrology and law, with history, hunting, religion and philosophy in between. It opens daily except Saturdays, Sundays and government holidays, from 9am to 4 p.m. (Tel: 977 1 411318)
It is located at Kulambhu west of Nhyokha Tol, on the western fringe of the old part of Kathmandu. The archives possess an exceptional collection of about 7,000 loose-leaf handwritten books and over 1,200 palm-leaf documents. The oldest manuscript here is dated 1464 AD. Most of the manuscripts are in Sanskrit and Nepalbhasa languages. It opens daily except Saturdays and government holidays, from 11 am to 4 p.m. (Tel 977 1 263417)
It is housed in an old building at Naxal. The National Birendra Art Gallery here has a collection of about 150 art pieces by prominent Nepalese artists. Art exhibitions are regularly organized where paintings can be bought. It also has studios where artists can be seen at work. It opens daily except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 9 am to 4 p.m. Entrance fee Rs.25 for SAARC nationals and Rs.75 for other foreign visitors. (Tel 977 1 411729)
This place, 1982 meters above sea-level and located 29 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu city, is famous for its magnificent view of the Valley. It overlooks the northwestern Himalayan ranges set against the vastness of the blue sky. The holiday area of Kakani features attractions ranging from beautiful alpine scenery to the magnificent Himalayan panorama, particularly of the Ganesh Himal. Other peaks that can be seen from Kakani are Gaurishanker (7, 134 m), Choba Bhamre (6,016 m) and several other peaks One should not miss the majestic sunset that Kakani offers. A trip to Kakani along the mountain highway, Trisuli Road, is rewarding with views of green forests on one side and terraced cultivation on the other. The vehicles can go right up to the top of Kakani. It takes about one and a half hours to reach Kakani by car from Kathmandu There are frequent bus and other vehicle services from Thamel to Kaule.
The charming lele valley lies 19 kilometers southeast of Kathmandu. The road leading to this area is at the Saat Dobato intersection along the Ring Road beyond Lagankhel. Getting there by car may be quite uncomfortable due to the many potholes along the way, but that is offset by the never-ending stretch of picturesque scenery. Along the road are some typical old Newari villages: Sunakothi, Thecho, ]nd Chapagaon. Close to the last, in a very scenic setting, is the temple of Vajra Varahi. Built in 1665, the Vajra Varahi is the most important Tantric temple of the valley. In the shrine of Tika Bhairab dedicated to Shiva in his terrible form is a somewhat abstract but attractive mural on a brick wall 3 by 6 meters.
Another interesting side-trip from Dhulikhel is to the tiny hamlet of Namo Buddha situated close to Panauti. Namo Buddha is an important pilgrimage site particularly to the Tamang Buddhists of Nepal. Since it is connected by dirt trails from both Dhulikhel and Panauti,it is possible to hike there from Dhulikhel and return via Panauti. Much of the scenery along the route is impressive.
This hill above Balaju and the road leading to Kakani and Trishuli shelters a pristine forest barricaded at accessible points by walls. The entrance is guarded and a nominal fee is charged for entry inside. This is another good area for bird watching, and the forest also harbors deer and pheasants. The vehicular road leading to the top is 37 kilometers long but ,here are plenty of shortcuts for hikers. On the top of the hill is a Buddhist shrine and on the eastern slopes are two caves, one of which is dedicated to the Buddha, and the other to Nagarjuna, a famous South Indian philosopher.
Some 7 kilometers north of the mountain of Panchkhaal, on the top of a hill lies the noted historic temple of Palanchowk Bhagawati.This temple is said to have been constructed during the reign of King Man Dev. The temple houses a three foot long idol of Goddess Bhagawati carved in a black stone.
Pokhara is a remarkable place of natural beauty. Situated at an altitude of 827m from the sea level and 200km west of Kathmandu valley, the city is known as a center of adventure. The enchanting city with a population of around 95,000 has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panaromic views of Himalayan
peaks. The serenity of lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising behind them create an ambience of peace and magic. So today the city has not only become the starting point for most popular trekking and rafting destinations but also a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.Pokhara is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship. The climate of Pokhara is slightly warmer than Kathmandu with daytime temperature hovering around 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 35 degrees in summer. The monsoon season which lasts from mid-June to mid-September is very wet; in fact Pokhara records the highest rainfall in the country. Best time to visit is between October and April. The activities of foreign visitors to Pokhara focus around two districts known as Damside and Lakeside (or Pardi and Baidam, in Nepali, respectively). These two areas, with their strips of hotels and restaurants, are a few kilometers south-west of the main Pokhara bazaar.
Pokhara is the starting and ending point for many of the popular trekking routes in Nepal. Longer treks (one to three week long) such as the Jomsom trek, Annapurna Circuit, and Annapurna Sanctuary begin here. Check a book on Nepal trekking for more details on this. Otherwise, you can also visit this site Pilgrims Book House for information on trekking books of Nepal. For those with less time, Pokhara also provides shorter (one to seven days) more leisurely treks around the neighboring hills and villages. The popular ones are:
Ghachowk Trek: two days, a circuit through Lhachowk to Ghachowk and down to Batulechaur, north of Pokhara, close up view of Fishtail mountain.
Naudanda Trek: two days, to Naudanda from Suikhet and then back through Kaski, west of Pokhara.
Ghorepani Circuit: five to seven days long, upto the Gurung village of Ghandruk village, great views of the Annapurna range, north-west of Pokhara.
Kahun Danda: day trip, north east of Pokhara, 1560m altitude.
Sarangkot: day trip, great view of the mountain range including Dhaulagiri, north of Fewa Lake, 1592m altitude.
Rupa and Begnas Lakes: day trip, 15km south-east of Pokhara, take a bus there and leisurely walk along the ridge that separates the two twin lakes.
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