October 9,Kathmandu. capital city is where you’ll most likely end up first in Nepal, the most international visitors first destination Kathmandu is an incredibly busy, beautiful, energetic and full of temples; also known as city of temples. It is sure temple comes across one every mile in Kathmandu. Most of the temples and architects still recovering from the devastating effects of 2015 earthquake, but even so, there are endless side streets and medieval relics to explore.
These top things to do in Kathmandu encompass world heritage sites (7 out of 10), architecture, culture, spirituality, and shopping.Swayambhunath, one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal was founded around 5th century,is also known as monkey temple as the premises of the temple is mobbed by monkeys.Situated on a small hillok 3km west of Kathmandu,Swayambhunath offers fascinating view of Kathmandu valley and not just hosts Buddhists stupa but also enshrines Hindu goddess of Knowledge and wisdom, Saraswati exhibiting epitome of religious tolerance.
Syambhunath stupa is a peerless architecture with dome on the base and a cubical structure constantly tapering upwards ending with pinnacle, each side has eyes of Buddha overlooking the Kathmandu valley. Four eyes of Buddha in all four directions represents wisdom and compassion and his constant vigliance to the people preventing them from committing sins.Devotees from different parts of the world can be observed circumambulating the premises reciting Buddhist holy mantra ‘Om mane padme hum’.Top of the hill,scaled on foot otherwise on a vehicle, injects visitors with ecstatic mood and spritual bliss.
Pashupati Temple is one of the Shiva Dhams where every Hindu wishes to visit at least once in a life time and is the most idiolised pilgrimage in Nepal. Encompassing the area of 264 hectares together with 518 temples and monuments, the temple lies on the bank of Bagmati River and is the oldest temple in Nepal which dates around 400BC. Pashupati area innundated by hundreds of temples and monuments has been enlsited by UNESCO in world cultural and religious heritage since 1979 and lies in the eastern part of Kathmdnu valley.
The main temple of Pashupatinath is a two storey pagoda style architecture with gold plated roofs and a pure gold pinnacle.The temple opens in four directions with four silver doors and the main idol inside,Shiva lingam faces all four directions has silver base and is serpent bound.Each face has small hands holding Rudrakshya and Kamandalu where devotees offer milk and Ganga jal. Entering the main temple one has to be Hindu and other religion people are prohibited. The best view of the temple is from an small elevation on the opposite side of the temple and watching the cremation ceremony on the bank of Bagmati river from there makes everyone question the reality of life. Many spiritual seekers have been blessed and enlighted by Lord Pashupatinath, simlarly many others have denounced the material life for the quest of higher spiritual goals after visiting this temple .The temple is always filled with devotees and visitors and is most crowded in Shiva Ratri when more than one million visitors isit the temple from all around the globe.
Bhaktapur durbar square is a UNESCO world heritage site located in Bhaktapur district,13 km east of Kathmandu.The square reflects the culture and tradition of medival age or Malla regime in Nepal.The arena of the square is saturated with mindblowing architectures and typical Newari culture and hospitality and one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations of Kathmandu.
The square opens with a golden gate intricately encraved by Hindu dieties and mythical creatures which is unique in itself and leads to a monumental fifty five window palace founded in the 15 th century by King Bupatindra malla, whose statue is seated in a tall pillar with a posture of knees folded and palms joined as a prayer to god.This palace is the oldest monument in Nepal that served as abode of Malla kings.Inside the courtyyard there are innumerous statues and religious sites among them massive five storyed pagoda style temple, Naytapola is an epitome of perfection and artistic beauty and stands as tallest temple of its kind.Other sites not to be missed by the visitors here are Lions gate, mini Pashupati,Bhairavnath temple, vatsala temple.These ancient assests are embellised by the local handicratfs related to pottery and weaving, manufactured by small scale industries run by local people.
Bouddhanath Stupa, located about 10km north east of Kathmandu is believed to be built in the 14th century and due to its majestic appearance and outstanding architecture it has been enlisted in UNESCO world heritage site since 1979.The stupa has been luring visitors from all over the world especially Tibetan Buddhists who come here to pay homage, contemplate and meditate. It is one of the largest spherical stupas with colossal ‘mandela’, geometrical figure that symbolically represents the microcosm of the whole universe.
The architecture of Bouddhanath is similar to other stupas, with a colossal dome base and a cubical golden structure tapering towards the golden pinnacle and decorated by religious thread called ‘Toran’. This 36 m tall stupa has huge eyes of Buddha in all four direction symbolizing consciousness and pervasiveness. The stupa is besieged by hundreds of prayer wheels with image of meditating Buddha, devotees circumambulate the stupa spinning the prayer wheels and reciting Buddhist holy mantra ‘om mane padme hum’ hoping to cleanse the ignorance of their inner mind and soul. Any visitor besides Buddhists also feels the vibes of the place in their inner bandwidth and becomes charged with spiritual euphoria.
Thamel ,small city in the heart of Kathmandu has been a celebrated tourist destination mostly after hippie discovered this sweet haven that quenched their thirst of peace and love.Even though the area is narrow and congested it has glut of hotels, restaurents, cafes, cocktailbars, live music bars, massage centres, and almost everything needed for material pleasure.The colourful streets are full of vendors especially selling local hadicrafts that depicits the Nepalese identity.
Thamel displays varieties of shows ranging from local to the western and never ceases to amaze people from different walks of life.It is a commercial hub for tourists that offers electic stuffs,and never lets anyone miss their home country products. For anyone looking to gift thier friends or relatives with something from Nepal, Thamel is the perfect place to shop. Similarly Thamel hosts wide range of mountaineering shops, money exchange booths and travel agencies So most of the tourists perfer to have their sojourn in Thamel while they are in Kathmandu. Thamel is also pre base camp for the mountaineers who come to scale different moutain peaks including the Everest.While other parts of Kathmandu sleeps,Thamel remains full of life entertaining night life lovers with music, drinks along with tradtional and continental dish Narayanhiti Palace Museum Narayanhiti Museum is a former Royal palace that served as abode of Shah Kings for a long period of time. After revolutionary political changes, Nepal went from monarchy to republic nation and the ex-king had to handover the palace to the government which in turn was transformed into museum in 2010.The museum lies next to Thamel and east of garden of dreams.
The name Narayanhiti means the home of Hindu god Bishnu, named so since people believed the king as the incarnation of lord Bishnu.The museum is compounded from all its sides and remained as an enigma for general public as the royal family kept is regal lifestyle away from the sight of its citizens. Most of the people visit the museum to observe the marks of the bullets that hit the members of then Royal family members in royal massacre of 2001.People suspect that large portions of the buildings inside have been modified soon after the massacre to cloud the evidences and so still remains as an unsolved mystery of Nepalese history. Interior of the palace is divided into three parts and has 52 rooms including the reception hall and the throne room. The walls of hall is decorated with skins of tigers and other wild animals collected by the kings in their hunting adventure and the aestheticism of the palace is influenced by late Victorian style. Chandragiri Hills Chadragiri is a hillstation located south west of Kathmandu at an altitude of about 2600m and the easiest way to reach the top of the hill is through 2.5km long ropeway, cable car. Trekking lovers can climb up the hill for 3hrs in wilderness of green lush forest.Chandragiri is one of the gateways to Kathmandu valley, historically it was the place from where founder of modern Nepal Prithvi Narayan Shah had observed the panoramic view of Kathmandu valley, unending landscapes and mountain peaks which added fuel to his endeavor and changed his utopian dream of unifying Nepal into reality.
Before 2016 Chandragiri was not an acclaimed tourist destination because of its inaccessibility, however, after its connection by cabel car from Thankot it has become one of the leading retreats of Kathmandu valley. Soon after its fame, modest resorts, restaurants, hotels and parks have been estabilshed and many others are under construction. Adventurous options have been sought here with future plan of development of zipfly, bungee, paragliding and many more. Chandragiri offers splendid views of Himalayas like Ganesh, far reaching landscapes and the whole kathmandu valley and is far from pollution, rush and bedlam of city life. So this is the place for the ones who are looking for tranquility of mind by escaping the mechanized life.
Patan Durbar square is one of the three UNESCO listed world heritage durbar squares of Kathmandu valley and lies in Lalitpur district. The square is loaded with temples, palaces, monuments and stupas,the stupas are believed to be built by Emperor Ashoka whereas the temples were bulit during Malla regime.It reveals remarkable ancient architecture and the arena is floored by red brick tiles.
The site is place of homage for both Hindus and Buddhists and is one of the oldest Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal.Among many temples here, Majestic Krishna Temple built in Shikhar style architecture with 21 golden pinnacles is remarkably stunning.Each three floor is dedicated to different dieties,and the floor to Lord Krishna his consort Radha. Similarly other noteable temples here are Bhimsem temple,Talegu temple and Bishownath temple. Patan museum is not just considered as the best musuem in Nepal but in whole Asia that boasts bronze statues and religious items.Three major chowks in square Mul chowk, Sudari chowk and Keshav Narayan chowk are noteworthy for the display of intricate carvings and typical Newari culture.For the lovers of art,culture and religion Patan Durbar Square is a complete package.
Durbar square literally means an area in a square which is inundated by architectures, statues and ancient art and culture,among many durbar squares,Basantaur Durbar square also known as Hanumandhoka Durbar square is the most reachable one as it lies in the heart of Kathmandu. This World heritage site despite being in the center of most happening city,New road, remains secluded from cacophony of town life and hosts more than 50 temples dated from 15 to 18th century.
Hisorically Basantapur Durbar square was a place of coronation when Nepal was a monarchy,but now it has been preserved as religious and cultural sites and musuems.Among many architectures the best ones are Taleju temple,Jangannath temple,Kalbhairav,Swetbhairav, Nautale Durbar and Kasthamandap.The name kathmandu was derived from Kasthamandap, an architecture believed to be built from timber of single tree. The door and windows of the architectures are beautifully encarved,especially window called ‘Aakhi Jhyale’,meaning eye window exhibits typical Malla period architecture. Besides, this wonderful place hosts different feats and Jatra when people from different parts assemble and take part giving continuity to ancient culture. Entering into this arena undoubtedly makes the visitors feel like if they were taken back in historical time. For the lovers of art, culture and architectures, this durbar square can be a perfect place to feed the quest of their mind and charge their inner batteries.
Nagarkot ancient fort installed to combat foreign invasion of Kathmandu valley now has been one of the leading retreats in the proximity of Kathmandu. Located 32 Km east of Kathmandu or Bhaktapur Nagarkot lies at a altitude of about 2200m above the sea level renders resplendent view of Mountain ranges including Annapurna range,Manaslu range,Ganesh range,Lantang range, Jugal range and Malalangur range. Besieged by green lush forest and bucolic scenery Nagarkot offers astonishing view of sunset and sunrise that paints the Himalayas in orange.
Nagarkot can be scaled by different ways, some prefer regular vehicles like bus or cab,biking is another way for bike lovers and adventure lovers hike or trek along the wilderness of coniferous pine trees and rhododendron forests. Far from the hustle of city Nagarkot is a serene place with lots of things to offer to the visitors. Nagarkot tower on the apogee of a hill renders 360 degree view and on a halcyon day of sunshine, peak of Everest can also be visualized. Anyone looking for an adrenaline rush can give it a shot for paragliding over the skies of Nagarkot. Besides, Nagarkot is well equipped with urbane resorts, hotels and restaurants offering comfortable accommodation and dishes ranging from traditional to modern. So Nagarkot is a wonderful destination for visitors looking to spend a few days or weekends in the lap of nature.