Overview: UNESCO has declared 7 World Heritage Sites, all inside Kathmandu Valley.
These seven World Heritage Sites are all amazing man-made wonders still standing
majestically - some of them as old as 2500 years. Although their close proximity means
you could probably travel to each sight in a single day, you'll need two to three days in
the city of Kathmandu to get the full experience of each location.
Kathmandu Valley Sightseeing
The political, commercial and cultural hub of Nepal is the first stop for the majority of
visitors to the country. Once a separate kingdom in itself, it contains three fabled cities -
Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur . Out of ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites, seven
cultural heritage sites are in Kathmandu Valley. The history of the Valley begins with the
Buddhist saint Manjushree who slashed a passage through the surrounding hills to drain
out the primordial waters and make it inhabitable. Over the centuries, a refined urban
civilization emerged, built on a unique synthesis of Hinduism and Buddhism. Dynasties
came and went. Trade and the arts flourished. Its deeply religious Newar inhabitants
built fabulous cities and artistic temples that attracted devout pilgrims as well as
rampaging invaders. In the late 18th century, following the founding of modern Nepal
within more or less the present boundaries, Kathmandu was made the capital.
Kathmandu, the largest city in Nepal is situated at an altitude of 1,350m.
KATHMANDU (population 1,096,865 - 2001 census)
Durbar Square. This complex of palaces, courtyards and temples like Hanumandhoka
Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju temple, built between the
12th and 18th centuries, used to be the seat of the ancient Malla Kings of Kathmandu.
An intriguing piece here is the 17h -century stone inscription set into the wall of the
palace with writings in 15 languages. The Durbar Square, protected as a UNESCO World
Heritage Site, is the social, religious and urban focal point of the city. Even to date, all
the major state and social ceremonies, including the solemnization of coronations are
performed in one of the courtyards in this complex. There are also museums inside the
palace building. There is an entrance fee of Rs. 250 for foreign visitors. Your ticket to the
Square entitles you to visit all the museums.
Walkabout: A colorful and enlightening walk that gives you a feel of Kathmandu
starts at Rani Pokhari, the large pond at Jamal beside the clock tower (Ghanta Ghar).
The first stretch of the diagonal street leading southwest from here is called Kamalachhi.
UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nepal
It is lined with bicycles and garment stores and brings you to the stone-paved market
square of Ason, where the Annapurna temple presides over the motley of spice, grain
and oil shops. Keep on walking and you come to Kel Tole after passing shops
overflowing with brass utensils. Further on is the junction of Indrachowk with the temple
of Akash Bhairav occupying one side. Your next stop after threading your way through
the street lined with cloth shops is the stone-paved plaza of Makhan, where the Taleju
temple towers over a row of handicraft shops. Walk on through Durbar Square to the
intersection of Maru where you are surrounded by temples of all shapes and sizes.
Heritage Walk: A walk through selected historic sites seldom visited. This revitalizing
walk starts at Teku, south of old Kathmandu, leading on to Wonder Narayan, a 17th
century temple dedicated to Lord Bishnu. Strolling through Hyumat Tole, you will arrive
at Kusah Bahi, a Buddhist courtyard built in 1754. The next stop is the Narayan Dewal,
another Bishnu temple (built in 1865) with a small Ganesh temple at the entrance. Walk
on to Tukan Baha, built in the 14th century as a replica of the Swayambhu stupa.
Admire the Ram temple at the Ramchandra Dewal before reaching Jaisi Dewal, a
huge Shiva temple built in 1688. Saunter down to Kohiti to study the Buddhist and Hindu
sculptures in this sunken water fountain. Walk through Chikan Mugal and stop by at the
Atko Narayan Dewal, an important Bishnu temple built in 1857, before visiting the
namesake of the city, the Kasthamandap pavilion. After a further five-minute walk,
reach the final destination, the Bhimsen Dewal, built in 1655 and dedicated to the main
deity of local traders.
Swayambhunath Stupa: watches over the Valley from the top of a hillock on its
western side just three kilometers west of the city center. The stupa is one of the holiest
Buddhist sites in Nepal and its establishment is linked to the creation of the Kathmandu
Valley out of a primordial lake. Swayambhunath is also known as Samhengu and is
listed as a World Heritage Site. It is also one of the oldest and glorious Buddhist shrines in
the world which is said to be two thousand years. The four sides of the stupa is painted
with the eyes of Lord Buddha and the temple is also known as the watchful eyes of
Buddha. Entrance fee Rs. 50 (SAARC nationals Rs. 30).
Bouddhanath Stupa lies about 6 km east of downtown Kathmandu and is the
largest stupa in the Valley and one of the largest in the world. It looms 36 meters high
and presents one of the most fascinating specimens of stupa design with hundreds of
prayer wheels and 108 small images of Buddha all around. Just like the
Swayambhunath, the stupa here is too has four sides with the watchful eyes of Lord
Buddha. All the Buddhist throng to this stupa to take part in the sacred rituals during the
Buddhist festivals. Bouddhanath , a World Heritage Site is also known as Khasti. There are
more than 45 Buddhist monasteries in the area. Many have schools that teach young
monks like those pictured here. An information counter, run by the Bouddha Area
Preservation & Development Committee (Ph: 4471368) offers assistance to visitors.
Changu Narayan Temple is situated on a ridge overlooking the Valley, about 12 km to
the east of the city. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Bishnu - the Preserver. One of the
finest and oldest specimens of pagoda architecture, the temple is embellished with
exquisite wood and stone carvings and is said to be the oldest pagoda style temple in
Nepal built sometime back in 323 A.D. The sacred complex is a World Heritage Site and
offers a panoramic view of the surrounding at 125 meters. Chronicles indicate
Pashupatinath's existence prior to 400 AD. Devotees can be seen taking ritual dips in
the holy Bagmati river flowing beside the temple, also a World Heritage Site. The
crematorium is just outside the temple and it is a dream of almost every Hindu to be
cremated by the side of Pashupati Aryaghat after their death.
PATAN (population 162,991 - 2001 estimate)
Durbar Square, like its counterpart in Kathmandu, is an enchanting mélange of palace
buildings, artistic courtyards and graceful pagoda temples. Listed as a World Heritage
Site, the former royal palace complex is the center of Patan's religious and social life,
and houses a museum containing an array of bronze statues and religious objects.
There is an entrance fee of Rs. 200 per foreign visitor. One remarkable monument here is
a 17th century temple dedicated to the Hindu God Krishna - Krishna Mandir built
entirely of stone with rare stone carvings on its walls
depicting the epic wars from Ramayana and
Mahabharata. Iba Bahi is situated about a two-minute
walk south of Durbar Square. It is one of the oldest
Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu Valley and reflects
the sophisticated architecture of the Malla period. A
two-step platform leads to the courtyard with a hall
called Dalan. There is a shrine dedicated to
Shakyamuni right across the entrance. Kwa Bahal, also
known as the Golden Temple, is a Buddhist monastery
courtyard dating to the 12th century. It is a five-minute
walk west and north from the northern end of Durbar
Square. The monastery building is embellished with
exceptionally fine wood-carvings and repousse work. Artistic images are scattered
around the courtyard, and devotees can be seen offering worship at the many shrines
here. Entrance fee Rs. 25. Mahabouddha can be reached by walking east from the
southern end of Durbar Square and then turning right at the sunken water taps. This
Buddhist monument is an excellent example of terra cotta art form which points to the
skill of Patan's ancient craftsmen with a variety of building styles. The 14th century
monument's obelisk-like design is also unusual in a city of pagoda roofs...
Oku Bahal is situated a few steps past Mahabouddha and is one of the best known
Buddhist places of worship in Patan. The stone-paved courtyard is enclosed by a two-
story building with gilded roofs. The wood-carvings on the roof struts are especially
attractive. The place is peppered with sacred images and other small shrines.
Walkabout. Besides these much frequented tourist attractions, there are other ancient
parts of Patan worth sight-seeing. Nakabahi, Nyakha Chuka, Nagbaha, Swotha Square,
Tumbaha, Walkhu Tole, Chyasa, Kapinche, Chapat, Subaha, Bhinchhebaha, Dupat
and Nugah make up a nice half-day walk around the squares, temples and
monuments of inner Patan. The Central Zoo in Jawalakhel is a pleasant diversion after a
tour of the cultural sights. The only zoo in Nepal, wasfirst established in 1932 by a Rana
Prime Minister as a private zoo and later opened to public in 1956. It houses about 106
species of birds and over 665 different animals and has 14 of the 38 endangered
animals of Nepal. There is also a pond where you can go boating. The zoo is open daily
except Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm. Entrance for foreign visitors costs Rs. 60 (Rs. 25 for
children under 10). Elephant ride costs Rs. 100 (Tel: 5528324). Tibetan Refugee Camp
was set up in 1960 under the initiative of International Red Cross and the Swiss
Development Corporation (SDC), known as Swiss Association for Technical Assistance
(SATA) then, in cooperation with His Majesty's Government of Nepal. Its main objective
is to enable the Tibetan refugees to do something productive and support themselves.
The carpet industry of Nepal is almost run by the Tibetan refugee families and the
carpet factories have been a great source of employment for them to become self
reliant economically. Apart from the carpet industry, Tibetan refugees are also
engaged into handicrafts and there are many handicraft centers providing work
opportunities to the families of the refugees with its profits going for the education,
sanitation, healthcare of the Tibetans in the Refugee Camps including the physically
handicapped and senior Tibetans.
BHAKTAPUR (population 74,200 - 2002 estimation)
Durbar Square. As you walk in, you cannot but be overcome by a feeling of inner
harmony. Such is the art and architecture and the special layout here. The Palace of 55
Windows built during the period of King Bhupatindra Malla in 1754 situated to the left as
you enter through the city gate, inspires admiration. The National Art Gallery is also
housed inside. The palace entrance, the Golden Gate known as Sunko Dhoka in Nepali
is a masterpiece in repousse art. In front of the palace building is a medley of temples
of various designs. Amongst the three Durbar Squares in the Valley, the Durbar Square in
Bhaktapur is the best preserved one. There is an entrance fee of Rs. 30 for SAARC
nationals and Rs. 500 for other foreign visitors. Taumadhi Square lies to the east of
Durbar Square reached by a narrow brick-paved lane. The towering five-roofed
Nyatapol temple presides over the square. The monument gracefully soars into the sky
atop a five-story plinth. The stairway leading up to the temple is flanked by stone figures
of deities and mythical beasts, each 10 times more powerful than the one immediately
below. Dattatreya Square takes its name from the Dattatreya temple dedicated to a
three-headed combination of the Hindu deities Brahma, Bishnu and Shiva. If you want
to experience the feel of the traditional urban layout of Bhaktapur, Dattatreya Square is
it. Set in a maze of streets lined with richly ornamented houses, the square is famed for
its many ornate Hindu monasteries known as Math. The National Woodworking Museum
is also housed here and the Brass and Bronze Museum is across the street. The oldest
structure in Bhaktapur was raised during the reign of the last Malla King, Yaksha Malla
who ruled the Valley before it was divided into three Kingdoms amongst his three heirs.
Potter's Square. A two-minute walk south of
Durbar Square brings you to Bolachhen, also
known as Potter's Square because of the
many potters seen here moulding wet clay
into different kinds of earthen ware. It has a
display of fresh pottery left out to dry in the
open square. This place can be
approached from Taumadhi Square. The
elephant-headed Lord Ganesh is the patron
of potters, thus the Jeth Ganesh temple in
Siddha Pukhu, a pond dating back to the
Lichhavi period, is better known as Ta-Pukhu, meaning big pond. Though situated right
at the bus stop, it provides a serene atmosphere with its sashaying fish and the stone
images of different Hindu and Buddhist Gods.
Surya Binayak is one of Kathmandu's most popular pilgrimage spots, 12 kilometers east
of the center. It has been positioned in such a way to catch the first rays of the sun in
the morning. Situated in a thick forest to the south of Bhaktapur, it is a 20-minute walk
from the trolley bus terminal. The temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesh (the
Elephant headed God) is crowded with devotees especially on Tuesdays and
Saturdays. It is also one of the favorite picnic spots offering elegant views of Bhaktapur
and other attractive landscapes.
Lumbini (Birth Place of Lord Buddha)
Lumbini associated with the birth of Lord
Buddha is of extreme archeological i
mportance and also a UNESCO Cultural
Heritage Site. It is said that Prince Siddhartha
Gautam, who later became Buddha the
Englightened One, was born in the gardens
of Nepal's Lumbini in 623 B.C. The main
shrines of Lumbini are the newly restored
Mayadevi Temple, the Ashokan Pillar behind
the temple and the Lake Shakya Puskarini
where Mayadevi is said to have bathed
before delivering the little Buddha into the
world. Several other places near Lumbini are
linked with stories connected to Buddha and Buddhism. Lumbini is about 300 kilometers
southwest of Kathmandu. Bus and flights to Bhairawa which is about 22 kilometers from
Lumbini, are available from major cities. From Bhairawa transport services to Lumbini are
easily available. Food and accommodation facilities are available in Lumbini and
Chitwan National Park
The Chitwan National Park, Nepal's first ever
national park lies at the foot of the Himalaya
in the Inner Terai lowlands of Chitwan.
Covering an area of 932 sq. kilometers the
park extends over decidous forest foothills
and river floodplains. The park is rich in its
variety of vegetation and wildlife. The park
provides one of the last habitats for
endangered species like the Asiatic one-
horned rhinoceros and the Bengal tiger.
Chitwan National Park was officially
established in 1973 and included as Natural Heritage Site in 1984.
Sagarmatha National Park
Area: 1148 sq. km.
Sagarmatha National Park is located to the north-east of Kathmandu in the Kumbu
region of Nepal. The park includes the highest peak in the world, Mt. Sagarmatha
(Everest), and several other well-known peaks such as Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyu, Pumori,
Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kwangde, Kangtaiga and Gyachung Kang. The park was
added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
The mountains of Sagarmatha National Park are
geologically young and broken up by deep gorges
and glacial valleys. Vegetation includes pine and
hemlock forests at lower altitudes , fir, juniper, birch
and rhododendron woods, scrub and alpine plant
communities, and bare rock and snow. The famed
bloom of rhododendrons occurs during spring (April
and May) although other flora is most colorful
during the monsoon season (June to August).
Wild animals most likely to seen in the park are the Himalayan tahr, goral, serow and
musk deer. The snow leopard and Himalayan black bear are present but rarely sighted.
Other mammals rarely seen are the weasel, maren, Himalayan mouse hare (pika), and
jackal and languor , monkey. The park is populated by approximately 3,000 of the
famed Sherpa people whose lives are interwoven with the teachings of Buddhism. The
main settlements are Namche Bazar, Khumjung, Khunde, Thame, Thyangboche,
Pangboche and Phortse. The economy of the Khumbu Sherpa community has
traditionally been heavily based on trade and livestock herding. But with the arrival of
international mountaineering expeditions since 1950 and the influx of foreign trekkers,
today the Sherpa economy is becoming increasingly dependent of tourism.
Suggested Half-Day Itineraries
Sight-seeing can be done on foot in the city core areas; for outlying spots, hire a car or
take the bus. Travel agencies in Kathmandu offer a variety of half-day and full-day
guided tours. The following combinations of tourist sites make for a pleasant half-day of
1. Kathmandu Valley Sightseeing
2. Kathmandu Durbar Square
3. Patan Durbar Squares
4. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
5. Pashupatinath Temple
6. Bouddhanath Stupa
7. Changu Narayan Temple
8. Lumbini (Birth Place of Buddha)
9. Chitwan National Park
10. Sagarmatha National Park
Samrat Tours & Travels Pvt. Ltd.
GPO Box: 20961, Gairidhara, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel: +977-1-4004700 / 4004701/ 4004702
Cell: +977-9851030564 (CN Pandey)
Cell: +977-9851032867 (Rajaram Tiwari)
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