Kathmandu Valley comprises the three ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, which was once an independent state ruled by the Malla kings from the 12th to the 18th centuries. The three cities house seven UNESCO World Heritage shrines which are together listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Culture). The Valley is also home to hundreds of other exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic Temples and magnificent art – reminders of the golden era in Nepal’s architecture. Legend has it that the valley was once a primordial lake ringed by verdant mountains.
In this pristine lake lived giant serpents until one fine day, saint Manjushree, the Bodhisatva raised a mighty sword and in one fell swoop, cut open the side of a Mountain at a place now known as Chobar. The voluminous water of the lake gushed out, leaving behind a fertile valley capable of supporting large urban settlements over The millennia. The Gopala and Kirati dynasties were the earliest rulers here followed by the Licchavi (300-879 A.D.), under whom flourished trade and crafts.
But the valley’s remarkable cities with their ornate palaces, the superbly crafted pagodas, and the Monumental stupas are testimony of the artistic genius of the Newars, the original inhabitants of the valley, whose skills were championed by the Malla kings and appreciated even by the Mongol rulers of 18th century China. It is the best place to enjoy your vacation trip, holidays package, Nepal Tour packages etc.
Kathmandu Valley is blessed by a temperate climate. The temperature does not exceed 34 Degrees Celsius even during the scorching summer months and does not drop below 3 degrees Celsius in winter.
One can directly fly into the Tribhuvan International Airport in the Kathmandu Valley. One can ride buses or drive to Kathmandu from border towns and other parts of the country. There are five-star hotels, resorts to moderate accommodations with modern amenities available in and around Kathmandu Valley.
Places to see in Kathmandu Valley
1. Kathmandu (input Kathmandu new project)
2. Patan (input patan new project)
3. Bhaktapur (input bhaktapur new project)
City of Devotees – Bhaktapur is a treasure trove of artistic creations displayed on the temples and monuments of the city. Perched on a hill at an altitude of 1,401 m, Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon, literally the City of Devotees, is a major tourist destination that takes visitors back in time. Bhaktapur lies 12 km to the east of Kathmandu on the Arniko Highway that leads to the Chinese border. Covering an area of 6.4 sq km, Bhaktapur has managed to retain its authentic ambience with brick-paved roads, charming red brick houses and a way of life that goes back to medieval times. This ancient city is also famous for pottery and woodcarving amply displayed on the squares and windows of the local houses and temples.
BHAKTAPUR DURBAR SQUARE (UNESCO World Heritage Site): Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an elegant and open space facing south surrounded by buildings dating from the 13th century to the 18th century. The 15th-century Palace of 55 Carved Windows called Pachpanna Jhyale Durbar and the palace entrance, the Golden Gate – a masterpiece in repoussé art, have added splendor to this palace square. The extraordinary Durbar Square with its extraordinary monuments reflects the glory days of the Malla dynasty when art and architecture thrived in the three cities of the valley.
In front of the palace, buildings is innumerable temples and architectural showpieces like the Lion Gate, the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla mounted on a giant stone pillar and the Batsala Temple. The stone temple of Batsala Devi is full of intricate carvings and is a beautiful example of Shikhara-style architecture. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple, which is also known as the Bell of Barking Dogs. Erected by King Ranjit Malla in 1737, its sounding announced the beginning and end of a daily curfew.
NYATAPOLA TEMPLE: The unique temple of Bhaktapur, the Nyatapola literally means ‘five storied’ and rises above the city’s landscape as a remarkable landmark. It also has the distinction of having withstood the devastating earthquake of 1933. Dedicated to a Tantric goddess, the steps leading up to the temple are flanked by stone sculptures of deities and mythical beasts, each 10 times more powerful than the one immediately below.
BHAIRAVNATH TEMPLE: Dedicated to Bhairav, the God of Terror, the three-storied temple of Bhairavnath has only the head of Bhairav in the inner sanctum. Legend has it that the Bhairav’s head was cut off by a Tantric expert in order to keep him in Bhaktapur. Built-in pagoda style, the temple is noted for its artistic grandeur and stands adjacent to the famous five-storied Nyatapola Temple.
DATTATREYA SQUARE takes its name from the Dattatreya Temple dedicated to a three-headed combination of the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. This temple is said to have been built from the trunk of a single tree. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows.
SIDDHA POKHARI: For a small city, Bhaktapur has the largest number of public water tanks built within the city limits. Siddha Pokhari, which dates back to the Lichhavi period, is situated at the bus stop. This large rectangular pond teems with fish and has stone images of different Hindu and Buddhist deities on the walls surrounding it.
THIMI: is a Newar town situated about 8 km east of Kathmandu on the way to Bhaktapur. Besides farming, most of the households here are engaged in pottery. This laid-back town not only supplies Kathmandu its pottery but also its vegetables. The two important deities here are those of Balkumari Temple, dedicated to the Mother Goddess, and Karunamaya, the Buddha of Compassion.
SURYA BINAYAK: The temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesh. Situated in a thick forest to the south of Bhaktapur, it is a 20-minute walk from the bus stop. The temple is crowded with devotees, especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
CHANGU NARAYAN TEMPLE (World Heritage Monument): It is situated on a ridge overlooking Bhaktapur, about 12 km to the east of Kathmandu. Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, it is one of the oldest specimens of pagoda architecture in the valley. The temple dating from the Licchavi period is embellished with exquisite wood and stone carvings.
Patan is home to the valley’s finest craftsmen who have preserved ancient techniques of metal craft. Patan, also known as ‘Lalitpur’, the city of artisans, lies 5 km southeast of Kathmandu and is home to the valley’s finest craftsmen who have preserved such ancient techniques as the repoussé and lost wax process used to produce exquisite sculptures. The city retains much of the old charm with its narrow streets, brick houses and a multitude of well-preserved Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (vihars) and monuments. The predominant sound in Patan is that of the tinkering of craftsmen bent over the statuettes they are shaping. As in Kathmandu, Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed here for ages, influencing each other, and the religious harmony is exemplary.
PATAN DURBAR SQUARE (UNESCO World Heritage Site): Like its counterpart in Kathmandu, Patan Durbar Square is located in the heart of the city and was once the palace of the kings of Patan. The square is an enchanting mélange of palace buildings, artistic courtyards and graceful pagoda temples – a display of Newari architecture that had reached its pinnacle during the reign of the Malla kings. Among its numerous courtyards, the renovated Keshav Narayan Chowk has been converted into a bronze artefact museum. The Sundari Chowk with the sunken bath of Tusha Hiti is a showcase of exquisite woodcarvings, and stone and metal sculptures. The magnificent Krishna Temple with its 21 gilded spires, built in 1637, and the Manga Hiti, the sunken stone water spout, found in the palace complex are but a few examples of its opulence. The Krishna Temple, built entirely of stone, is said to be the first specimen of Shikhara-style architecture in Nepal.
MAHABOUDDHA: To the east of Patan Durbar Square is Mahabouddha, an exceptional Buddhist monument of exquisite terra cotta art form. On this 14th-century architectural masterpiece are engraved thousands of images of Lord Buddha.
RUDRA VARNA MAHAVIHAR: Also known as Uku Bahal, it is situated a few steps past Mahabouddha and contains an amazing collection of images and statues in metal, stone and wood. The stone-paved courtyard is enclosed by a two-story building with gilded roofs. The kings in ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by devotees can be seen here even today.
HIRANYA VARNA MAHABIHAR: Dating from the 12th century, the three-storied shrine, also known as the Golden Temple, houses an image of the Buddha inside the courtyard or Kwa Bahal. The monastery is known for its exceptionally fine wood carvings and repoussé work. It is a five-minute walk west and north from the northern end of Durbar Square.
KUMBHESHWAR: The temple dedicated to Shiva is the only five-storied pagoda in Patan and one of the only three surviving five-storey temples in the country. A natural spring within the courtyard of this temple built in 1392 is said to have its source in the glacial lake of Gosainkunda in northern Kathmandu. A large gathering of devotees arrives here for a ritual bath on the day of Janai Poornima in August.
JAGAT NARAYAN: The Jagat Narayan Temple on the banks of the Bagmati River at Sankhamul is a tall Shikhara-style temple consecrated to Vishnu. Built of red bricks, the temple has many fine images. An attractive metal statue of Garuda mounted on a stone monolith is accompanied by several images of Ganesh and Hanuman.
ASHOKA STUPAS: There are four stupas, supposed to have been built by Emperor Ashoka of India in 250 BC, marking the four corners of Patan. They are situated at Pulchowk, Lagankhel, Ibahi and Teta (way to Sano Gaon) respectively. At the time they were built, Buddhism was flourishing in the Kathmandu Valley.
TIBETAN CAMP: The camp on the outskirts of Patan is a tourist attraction with its souvenir shops that sell handwoven woollen carpets and handicrafts such as prayer wheels, an assortment of belt buckles, wooden bowls and jewellery. The camp also houses a stupa and a number of shrines.
PATAN INDUSTRIAL ESTATE: Situated at Lagankhel near Sat Dobato, it is known for handicrafts such as wood carvings, metal crafts, handwoven woollen carpets and Thanka paintings. There is a shopping arcade where handicrafts are on exhibition.
Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal, is the political as well as cultural capital of the country. Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions rub shoulders with the latest technological advances. However, it is the grandeur of the past that enchants the visitor whose gaze may linger on an exquisitely carved wooden window frame, an 18th-century bronze sculpture or the spiritually uplifting stupas. Like any big city, Kathmandu has seen rapid expansion in the last decade, but despite the hustle and bustle so typical of metropolitan cities, its people remain as refreshingly friendly as ever. Retaining its ancient traditions, Kathmandu is blessed by a Living Goddess and is enriched by endless ceremonial processions and events that take to the streets every now and then with throngs of devotees seeking blessings. These religious festivals are steeped in legend and are quite a spectacle with chariot processions and masked dancers often possessed by the spirits of deities.
Places to See in Kathmandu
Kathmandu Durbar Square BOUDDHA
Visit Ktm Durbar Square, a heritage site in the heart of the city Kathmandu Durbar Square, also known as Basantapur Durbar and Hanuman Dhoka, is an old durbar square in Kathmandu’s city centre. In the heart of old Kathmandu city, Basantapur never fails to impress first-time visitors with its intricate wood carvings and rich history. Hanuman Dhoka was built during the Licchavi period (4th to 8th centuries AD), and King Pratap Malla extended the property significantly in the 17th century. With the highest concentration of old structures, the square is home to several palaces, courtyards, and temples. It is also known as the Museum of Temples" because there are over 50 temples in the square. Handicraft shops may be found in the courtyards around Gaddi Baithak, where you can see a variety of attractive purchasable handicrafts.
Among the 50 temples that lie in the vicinity, lies the temple of the titular deity, Taleju Bhawani. The Durbar is divided into two courtyards, the outer Kasthamandap, Kumari Ghar, and Shiva- Parvati Temple and the inner section consists of Hanuman Dhoka and the main palace. Some floors have been converted to museums dedicated to three generations of the Shah kings of Nepal. Most parts of the palace premises are open to tourists throughout the week.
TALEJU TEMPLE: The Taleju Temple is the tallest of all structures, built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 AD. This temple is open to the public for one day each year during the Dashain festival.
KUMARI TEMPLE: The 17th-century Kumari Temple or the temple of the Living Goddess is an example of highly developed Nepali craftsmanship. This is the official residence of Living Goddess Kumari of Kathmandu. Visitors can get a peek at the living goddess and seek blessings during special hours.
JAGANNATH TEMPLE: Built in the 16th century, the Jagannath Temple is known for the fascinating erotic figures carved on the wooden struts.
NASAL CHOWK: This lovely courtyard inside the main entrance will be your first experience of the historic royal residence. Nasal Chowk was built during the Malla dynasty, although many of the structures in the area were built during the Rana period. Nasal Chowk was utilized for coronations throughout the Rana regime, and the practice persisted until 2001.
NARSINGHA STATUE: Narsingha is thought to be Lord Vishnu in his man-lion avatar, disembowelling a demon. Pratap Malla erected the stone image in 1673, and according to the inscription on the monument, he did so out of fear of upsetting Vishnu by dancing in a Narsingha attire.
SWET BHAIRAV: Swet Bhairav is a statue of Bhairav, an avatar of Shiva. This Bhairav temple is open to the public once a year during the festival of Indra Jatra in August-September.
SHISHA BAITHAK: Shisha Baithak is an open patio with the Malla throne on display, and pictures of the Shah kings.
TRIBHUWAN MUSEUM: Along with memorials to Kings Mahendra and Birendra, the Tribhuwan Museum commemorates King Tribhuvan and his successful insurrection against their regime. The museum exhibits the king's bedroom and study, complete with real personal belongings that provide a surreal look into his existence. The king’s boxing gloves, the walking staff with a spring-loaded sword hidden inside, and his dusty, empty aquarium provide some mysterious moments. There are several spectacular thrones, numerous hunting photographs, and the typical coin collection on display.
KAL BHAIRAB: The Kal Bhairav is one of the largest 17th-century stone statues in Kathmandu, representing the terrifying aspect of Lord Shiva.
Swayamhunath Stupa: Find peace and prayers on the little hillock of Swaymbhunath northwest of Kathmandu Valley. Find peace and prayers on the little hillock of Swaymbhunath in the northwest of Kathmandu Valley. Visitors for whom the name was a tongue twister have called it Monkey Temple" from the 1970s. Swayambhu overlooks most parts of the valley giving visitors a panoramic view of the city. The stupa has stood as a hallmark of faith and harmony for centuries with Hindu temples and deities incorporated into this Buddhist site. The glory of Kathmandu Valley is said to have started from this point. Resting on a hillock 3 km west of Kathmandu, Swayambhu is one of the holiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal. It is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than 2,000 years ago. This stupa is the oldest of it’s kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises.
Swayambhu literally means self-existent. Believed to date back to 460 A.D., it was built by King Manadeva and by the 13th century, it had become an important centre of Buddhism. Legend has it that Swayambhu was born out of a lotus flower that bloomed in the middle of a lake that once spread across the Kathmandu Valley once was. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal sits on a high pedestal on the western boundary of Swayambhu beside the Ring Road. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri or Saraswati – the Goddess of learning. Chaityas, statues and shrines of Buddhist and Hindu deities fill the stupa complex. The base of the hill is almost entirely surrounded by prayer wheels and deities. Devotees can be seen circumambulating the stupa at all times.
Exceedingly steep stone steps that lead up to the shrine are quite a challenge. However, there is also a motor road going up almost to the top from where it is a short walk. A large number of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit Swayambhu throughout the day. This shrine is perhaps the best place to observe religious harmony in Nepal. The largest crowds of people are seen here on Buddha's birthday which usually falls in May each year.
Some important monuments to see in this area
The huge gold-plated Vajra ‘thunderbolt’ is set on the east side of the stupa. Buddha statue on the west side of Swayambhu.
The Sleeping Buddha.
The Dewa Dharma Monastery is noted for a bronze icon of Buddha and traditional
The temple is dedicated to Harati, the goddess of all children. It is said that she was an
ogress before Lord Buddha converted her to be the caretaker of all children.
Situated 8 km to the east of downtown Kathmandu, Boudha is one of the most imposing landmarks in Kathmandu, visible as soon as you land at the Tribhuvan International Airport. It is the largest stupa in the Kathmandu Valley and is the centre of Himalayan Buddhism.
This temple situated on the banks of the holy River Bagmati is the most revered Hindu temple in Nepal. The main temple complex is open only to the Hindus; non-Hindus must satisfy themselves by observing from the terraces just across the Bagmati River to the east. As a mark of reverence and tradition, leather items that include shoes, belts and cameras are forbidden within the temple complex and must be left outside. Photography is strictly prohibited.
The most important festival observed here is Shivaratri, or ‘the Night of Lord Shiva’ – the night Lord Shiva self-originated – when devotees and pilgrims from far and wide across Nepal and India, including sadhus (barely attired holy men with long locks of hair and smeared in ashes) and ascetics, throng the temple to have a darshan (glimpse) of the sacred Shiva lingam. The other holy occasion when devotees descend to the temple in large numbers is Teej (a festival solely observed by Hindu women) in mid-September. The whole temple complex and the adjoining areas turn into a sea of red as women draped in their bridal red sarees and wearing yellow or green bead necklaces offer prayers for the well-being, prosperity, and longevity of their husbands. The temple is just as crowded with devotees every fortnight on the 11th day of the lunar month of Ekadashi. Among the Ekadashis, the most prominent and holiest two are the Harishayani Ekadashi in Ashadh (June/July) and four months later, Haribodhini. Ekadashi in Kartik (October/November.
The Slesh Mantak forest encircles the holy site where monkeys abound, and deer are reared in captivity to revere the animal form that Lord Shiva took as per the Swasthani Brata Katha.
It is one of the famous Shakti Peeths in Nepal and is located on the banks of the Bagmati River near the Pashupatinath Temple. Here too, non-Hindus are denied entry. The goddess is replicated here in the form of a silver-plated waterhole which is kept covered by a silver kalash (auspicious water jar). The Swasthani Brata Katha chronicles the origin of the temple. Following the death by self-immolation in a fire by his beloved consort Sati Devi, a grief-stricken Shiva wandered aimlessly across the earth carrying her dead body on his shoulders. In the course of his directionless wandering, the corpse began to rot, and parts of the body fell in different places. Wherever those body parts fell, a Shakti Peeth originated, and the Mother Goddess in her manifestation as the consort of Lord Shiva came to stay there. Gods, sages and celestial beings came to the Shakti Peeths to do penance or offer worship to the goddess (Ishwari), and thus these spots became holy places. It was at this spot that the Guhya (anal portion) of the corpse fell, and hence this place came to be known as Guhyeshwari.
Access: The temple lies 5 km to the east of the city centre. Besides taxis, microbuses or three-wheelers called tempos will drop you at Gaushala from where it is a short walk to the temple.
As the tourist district of Kathmandu, Thamel bustles with activity late into the night. It is a mere 10-minute walk from the centre of Kathmandu, yet completely different from the rest of the city. Thamel caters entirely to tourists with its scores of hotels, rows of restaurants and bars, book shops, inviting souvenir shops, cyber cafes and travel agencies. All that a tourist needs can be found here, even friends and travelling companions. Thamel is also great for shopping for trekking and mountaineering gear, travel accessories as well as souvenirs.
Once the centre of old Kathmandu, the Asan market square is located about midway on the only diagonal thoroughfare in Kathmandu that links Durbar Square with Durbar Marg. At Asan, there are six roads radiating in all directions. The three-storied pagoda-style Annapurna Temple of Annapurna, the Goddess of Grains, presides over the ever-lively bazaar. Asan is still an important shopping centre and one of the busiest markets places with shops selling anything from local and imported spices to kitchenware, grocery, fresh vegetables, Chinese goods, hardware and clothes.
Visit Kirtipur for an authentic experience of the Newari culture of Kathmandu Valley. Located about 30 minutes from Kathmandu on a ridge 8 kilometres southwest of the city. Kirtipur, an ancient Newar town, is a little hill town with paved streets lined by typical red-brick houses and tiled roofs, as well as temple squares. An experience in itself, its age-old traditional Newari buildings blending with the new is a sight you wouldn’t want to miss. Apart from its architecture, Kirtipur is a lively town that hosts a variety of traditional events known as Jatras in Nepali, which visitors can attend. The most well-known Jatras are Indrayani Jatra in November and December, and Bagh Bhairab Jatra in August.
The Chilamchu Stupa and the Bagh Bhairab Temple are the main lures here. Bagh Bhairab is without a doubt the most well-known temple with Gurkha weapons on display. Other popular temples in the area include Aadinath Temple and Lohan Dega. Aside from the temples, you can also walk around Manjushree Park, hike to Chobhar Gorge, or go birdwatching at Taudaha Lake, which is located south of Kirtipur. Nepal’s oldest university, Tribhuvan University, is in the foothills of Kirtipur. After a long day of sightseeing, you can relax with your friends at one of the Newari eateries and spend the rest of the day munching on delectable Newari cuisine.
Garden of Dreams
At the entrance of Thamel, the Garden of Dreams is a quiet oasis for city dwellers in the heart of Kathmandu. The garden, a part of the Kaiser Mahal complex which was earlier in dire need of maintenance was renovated and restored to its former glory. Major attractions in this 24-acre garden include neo-classical pavilions, fountains, decorative garden furniture, Chinese Moon Gate and European-inspired features such as pergolas, balustrades, urns and birdhouses. Today it is open to the public with a restaurant and bar.
Lying 18 km south of Kathmandu on the valley rim, Pharping is perched on a hilltop with a Buddhist monastery. Pharping’s main attraction is an elaborate 17-century temple which houses a glided image of Goddess Bajra Jogini. Other fascinating sights here include a cave and a hand imprint of the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava on the rock face over its entrance.