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Kathmandu

It is difficult to describe Kathmandu. If on one hand it bears the burden of one of the poorest countries in the world, on the other it has also learnt to grow and accept the Western style of civilisation, which, in a way, has led to heavy tourist traffic, giving boost to the industry that is the most important source of income for Nepal. Kathmandu is a small city founded around AD 723 as Manju-Patan. In the days of the Malla Kingdom, it was known as Kantipur and was in the same rank as Patan and Bhaktpur. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was the man who made Kathmandu his capital in the 18th century and it never looked back after that. The opening of the country around 40 years back led to tremendous growth of tourism in the valley and the capital became a Mecca for trekkers, heaven for hippies, and a thriving cosmopolitan city. Today Kathmandu is a fascinating old city where pagodas, narrow cobbled lanes, old carved windows, and stone shrines are backdrops to the drama of life that continues unhindered. Here the experiences are amazing, views fascinating, and the climate charming.

Sightseeing:

Machchendra Nath Temple:

Machchendra is considered as the guardian of the valley and his temple is one of the most revered among Hindus and Buddhists alike. The temple is situated in Kel Tol, north of Durbar Square. The white-faced image of Machchendra Nath is paraded around during the Machchendranath Festival in April.

Hanuman Dhoka:

The name of the old royal palace has been derived from the statue of Hanuman (the monkey god of Hindu mythology) that guards the entrance. The building has remained uninhabited from the days of its first construction in the 13th century. Most of the older structures are now gone and the present building is a highly modified version of the earlier one. It is now used mainly for royal ceremonies. The main attractions here include the Nasal Chowk, Tribhuvan Memorial Museum (the section open to public), Basantpur Tower, Mahendra Memorial Museum, and a stone inscription.

Residence Of The Living Goddess:

This is an 18th-century palace in Kathmandu with beautifully carved window frames, some of them carved in the shape of peacocks while the central one is covered in gold. The palace is known as Kumari Bahal, where Kumari, the living goddess of Kathmandu, resides. The goddess appears out of the windows in the courtyards sometime and it all depends on your luck whether you can see her or not.

Kashthamandap:

The place which gave Kathmandu its name, the Kashthamandap temple is perhaps the oldest surviving structure in Kathmandu. Although there have been alterations over the centuries, the central image in the temple is of Saint Gorakhnath, who watches over the Shah Dynasty. A small shrine of Ganesha is also located inside the temple.

Swayambhunath:

The hilltop Stupa of Swayambhunath, considered 2,000 years old, is one of the holiest places for Newari Buddhists. The hilltop is a pleasant spot to view the valley and is home to hordes of monkeys. On major Buddhist festivals like Buddha Punima or Tibetan Losar (New Year), Buddhists throng to the stupa.

Pashupatinath:

The Pashupatinath Temple, situated on the banks of River Baghmati around 8 km from the city, is one of the holiest Hindu shrines. The presiding deity here is Shiva, who is worshipped in the form of the lingam. However, only Hindus are allowed inside. An annual pilgrimage on the occasion of Shivaratri is organised here every year in the month of February.

Boudnath:

Boudnath is one of the largest stupas in the world and an important Buddhist pilgrimage. Today, Boudnath bustles with Tibetan population, busy with carpet manufacture, trade, and prayers at the several monasteries belonging to different sects of Tibetan Buddhism.

Kirtipur:

Kirtipur is situated at a distance of 6 km from Kathmandu and a picturesque Newari village with fifth-century temples, old lanes, and weavers dressed in traditional clothing.

Chovar:

Chovar is the site of a gorge where the water drains from the valley. It is situated 6 km south-west of the city and there is a small pagoda of Adinath on the top of the gorge.

Buddhanikantha:

Buddhanikantha is situated 8 km north of Kathmandu and there is a pond where you can see the great stone figure of Lord Vishnu reclining on the coils of a serpent.

Guheshwari Temple:

Guheshwari Temple near Pashupatinath is considered as the place where Yoni of Shiva’s consort Sati fell when she was cut into pieces by Lord Vishnu.

Pharping:

Pharping is a popular picnic spot near Chovar, just outside the city centre.

Balaju Water Garden:

Balaju Water Garden is situated northwest of the city and an 18th-century design of spouting crocodile heads set in pleasant gardens. There is a large swimming pool and an aquarium in the park.

Martyr’s Memorial:

Martyr’s Memorial or Shaheed Gate is constructed in the memory of four accused conspirators who were executed after an attempted coup in 1940.

National History Museum:

National History Museum is an excellent place to explore the rich history, art, and cultural heritage of Nepal. The museum building is as much important structure as the objects displayed in the museum.

Historic National Museum:

National History Museum is an excellent place to explore the rich history, art, and cultural heritage of Nepal. The museum building is as much important structure as the objects displayed in the museum.

Narayanhity Durbar:

Narayanhity Durbar is the present Royal Palace, which is named after a famous waterspout called Narayanhity, situated at the southern corner of the Palace.

Patan:

The twin city of Patan might have an independent existence than with Kathmandu. Today it is separated from the latter by a bridge over River Baghmati. The place has a distinct character and is full of temples.

Durbar Square:

It was once the centre of power during Malla Kingdom and still has a fascinating cluster of temples. The main attractions here include the Royal Palace, Sundari Chowk, Mul Chowk, Teleju Shrine, Patan Museum, Manga Hiti, Mani Mandap, Bhimsen Mandir, Vishwanath Mandir, Krishna Mandir, and some others.

Hiranya Varna Mahavihar:

This is a three-storey golden pagoda dedicated to Lokeshwar and constructed in the 12th century by King Bhaskar Varma. You can see a golden image of Lord Buddha as well as a big prayer wheel.

Kumbheshwar:

Built in 1392, this is the oldest temple in Patan. It has two freestanding five-roofed pagodas, where the presiding deity is Shiva. There are many legends related to the foundation of this temple. Thousands of pilgrims visit the temple during Jana Purnima Festival in the month of August every year.

Jagan Narayan:

Built in 1565, the Jagan Narayan Temple is situated in the Durbar Square and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This is the oldest temple in Durbar Square and is complete with wildly erotic roof struts.

Krishna Mandir:

This is first specimen of the Shikhara style temple in Nepal and the only one to have 21 spires. Built in the 17th century, it is constructed completely of stone and holds a commanding position in the palace complex of Patan.

Mahaboudha Temple:

The temple of thousand Buddhas is situated along Mangal Bazaar east of Durbar Square. The architecture is inspired by the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India. This is a shikhara-style temple covered with terracotta tiles, each of which is painted with image of Buddha.

Others:

Rudra Varna Mahavihar or Uka Bahal is the oldest monastery in Patan. Ashokan Stupas are situated on the four corners of Patan commemorating the visit of King Ashoka, a great Buddhist King of India. Godavari is a horticultural haven and home to the peaceful, expertly landscaped Royal Botanical Gardens, the National Herbarium, a bee-keeping workshop, and many nurseries. Bajra Barahi is a lofty temple set in jungle surrounding at Godavari. Phulchoki is situated at an altitude 3,330 metres at a distance of around 16 km off Patan and noted for wild flowers and butterflies.

Excursions From Kathmandu:

Bungamati Village:
Bungamati is a sleepy, 16th-century village which is considered the winter home of Lord Machchendranath. Though it is a village, the cobbled streets and tightly packed houses around the streets gives it a distinct feel of a town.

Chapagaon:
Situated on the southern tip of the Kathmandu Valley, Chapagaon is a rural village famous for its temple of Vajra Varahi, one of the many incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Dakshinkali:
Dedicated to Goddess Kali, the temple of Dakshinkali is one of the most popular places of tantrik worship in Kathmandu. The shrine is specially crowned on Tuesday while Saturday is the day for animal sacrifice. Dakshinkali is located 22 km from the city centre on the southern rim of the valley.

Daman:
Daman is located along Tribhuvan Rajpath at a distance of 80 km southeast of Kathmandu on an elevation of 2,650 metres. There are excellent views of Mt. Everest and other mountain peaks from Daman. There is a special tower built for this purpose.

Dhulikhel:
Dhulikhel is a historic town situated 32 km east of Kathmandu. You can watch the views of the snowy ranges of Makalu in the east to Manaslu in the west from Dhulikhel.

Gorkha:
The birthplace of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of modern Nepal, Gorkha is situated on a hill overlooking the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. The main attractions here are Gorkha Durbar and the temples of Gorakhnath and Kali. The town is situated at a distance of around 144 km from Kathmandu.

Helambu:
Famous for its scenic grandeur and pleasant climate, Helambu is situated about 72 kilometres north-east of Kathmandu. There are many Buddhist monasteries here. You can trek to this place from Sundarijal situated 11 km away from Kathmandu.

Janakpur:
Janakpur is one of the holiest places for Hindus as it is believed to be the place where Sita, the wife of Lord Ram was born. The town is full of temples and artificial ponds like Janaki Temple, Ram Temple, Ram-Janaki Vivah Mandap, Ganga Sagar, Dhanush Sagar, and Janakpur Women’s Development Centre. Janakpur is situated at a distance of around 140 km south of Kathmandu in the Terai Region.

Kakani:
Situated at an altitude of 2,000 metres above sea level, Kakani is an excellent spot for mountain viewing. It is located at a distance of around 28 km northwest of Kathmandu. A good place for picnicking and walking with accommodation facilities.

Kodari Road:
Situated on the international border with China, Kodari Road is situated some 144 km from Kathmandu. It has an exotic history as the starting point of Trans-Himalayan trade in the ancient times. The national highway from Kathmandu to Kodari road is full of magnificent views all along such as magnificent river gorges, mountains, and the famous hot water spring known as Tatopani.

Lumbini:
Considered as the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Lumbini is situated 250 kilometres south-west of Kathmandu. The main attractions here are the broken Ashokan Pillar, remnants of an old monastery, and images of Buddha’s mother Maya Devi.

Nagarkot:
Situated 34 km north-east of Kathmandu, Nagarkot is one of the most beautiful sites in Nepal. With an altitude of 2,715 metres, this is an ideal place to watch sunrise over Mt. Everest. There are magnificent sites of other mountain peaks too from this place.

Namche Bazaar:
Situated around 241 km from Kathmandu, this place is the starting point for climbing the Mt. Everest. The distance is generally covered in 15 days by trekking. The place is also the home to legendary Sherpas.

Panauti Valley:
Situated on the road to Dhulikhel, Panauti is a thriving village with lovely temples and interesting old houses. There is a beautiful area with some fourteenth-century wooden temple struts.

Trishuli:
Trishuli is the most popular river for rafting in Nepal and gives some serious challenges to the rafters. Mungling, the starting point for many of the rafting expeditions, is situated some 110 km from Kathmandu.

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