The Kathmandu valley, the political, commercial cultural hub of Nepal is famed for its natural beauty and historic, holistic place. Once a separate kingdom in itself, it contains three fabled cities, Kathmandu, Patan & Bhaktapur. Each is an artistic exposition of graceful temples, elegant palaces, brick paved courtyards and quaint streets. As a whole, the valley is surrounded by tier upon tier of green mountain walls above which tower mighty snow capped peaks. The valley is rich in places of pilgrimage for both Hindus and Buddhists. Both of their deities well side by side by both tantric symbolism and ancient animistic beliefs.
A very old Hindu text has described Kathmandu as the land of gods surrounded by beautiful mountain around. It is said that there were as many temples as there were house and many idols as there were people. In fact Kathmandu boasts one of the largest congregations of magnificent historical monuments and shrines ever built.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Duly recognized as a world Heritage site by UNESCO this particular area best known as Kathmandu Durbar Square lies in the heart of this city. The locals know this area by its old name “Hanuman Dhoka” Palace Square an ancient seat of the Nepalese Royalty.
Hanuman Dhoka Palace complex consists of a huge Royal Square exposing a tremendous variety of temples dedicated to different Hindus gods and goddess. Most of the buildings we see here date from 15th to 18th century.
Three kilometer west of Kathmandu city complex locates the one of the worlds most glorious Buddhist Stupa, it is said to be 2000 years old. Visitors often call it “Monkey Temple”. The main structure brick and clay which supports a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. There are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha on the four sides of spire. Being situated seventy meter above the level of valley, the hill of Swayambhunath is a mosaic of small stupa and pagoda temples. Aside, in front of the temple, one of the famous goddess with the shrine of Ajima called “Harati Mata” is there. This temple of goddess believes to be famous in the way of tantric. Both the stupa of Lord Buddha and temple of a goddess are surrounded by other temples and Tibetan monasteries. Being located in the top level of valley, this place is famous for visitors for sightseeing.
Pasupatinath temple being the temple of Lord Shiva possessed its two-storied golden roof and silver doors and is famous for its superb architecture. The temple is situated 5 kilometer east of Kathmandu heart, on the banks of sacred Bagmati River. Being one of the most important Hindu temples, this is a center of annual pilgrimage. From time immortal, the Pasupatinath area has contained numerous temples, stupa, monasteries, images and inscriptions. Not only is the Pasupatinath area a pilgrimage site for the Hindus and it is also an important cultural treasury for the whole world. Only Hindus are permitted to enter from the main gate.
One of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal, Bouddhanath is an imposing structure standing some 36 meters. The Stupa stands on the massive three level Mandala style platform surrounded by colorful private family houses. The basic feature of this great stupa is very much like those of Swayambhunath stupa except its finial displaying. It is much bigger than Swayambhunath Stupa and lies on the valley floor where s former one stands on the hilltop. This stupa is said to have been built in 5th century AD.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan located on lovely little plateau across the Bagmati is only 7-k.m southeast of Kathmandu. This city roughly inhabited by some 125000 people in considered oldest of all three cities of Kathmandu valley. This city founded in 3rd century AD. By King Veera Dev has a finest Newar crafts since time immemorial. Meaning the city of fine arts has hundreds of fascinating Hindu and Buddhist monuments scattered in and around. The most important monument area of course is Patan Durbar Square. Recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The Square has been described as one of the most picturesque collection of buildings that have been set up so small a place by the piety of oriental man. Most of the monuments in this square date back to the medieval Malla period 15th to 17th century as the golden period of Nepalese art and architecture. The important things to be seen in this area include the Golden Gate and the Golden Window of the old Palace, the beautiful piece of traditional metal crafts, the famed Krishna temple with 21 golden pinnacles, the Royal bath of Sundari chowk, a perfect piece of the classic work in stone. Royal Taleju temple, Viswa Nath Temple and Char Narayan temple are the finest examples of the unique craftsmanship in wood; the temple of Bhimsen with the magnificent golden balcony overlooking the square outside plus many other shrines and sculptures scattered in and around the square.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Situated at an altitude of 1401 meter above sea level Bhaktapur only is a very unique old town. This city divided into 24 traditional locality covers an area of 5 square kilometers. Founded by King Anand Dev in 889 AD Bhakatapur is said to have been built in the shape of conch shell a sacred symbol of Lord Vishnu. The word Bhaktapur means the city of devotees. Before the unification of Nepal, Bhaktapur was an independent principality ruled by the Malla Kings, who were very much devoted to religion, culture and art. During the period many magnificent temples and mansions were built. This period is remembered as golden period in the Nepalese art and remains a unique example.
Changu Narayan Temple
The temple of Changu Narayan situated on the hillock of Dolagiri to the north of Bhaktapur is one of the oldest temples in Nepal. Situated at an altitude of 5000ft. This temple has its distinct historical and architectural significance. The most authentic and oldest ever inscription is located in the precinct of Changu Narayan. The oldest inscription dated 464 AD is a credited to have been set up by Lichchshavi King Manadeva. The erection of Garuda Piller by Manadeva is expression of his devotion and reverence to Chang Narayan as learnt from the inscription, points that the temple of Changu Narayan was built sometime before 464 AD
It is a small town, eight kilometers southwest of Kathmandu, on the top off a hill. Tribhuwan University is located at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to see such as old shrines and temples, old houses, and people dressed in traditional costume while working on ancient looms.
It is situated nine kilometers southwest of Kathmandu. This place is famous of its gorge. All the waters of the Valley drain though it. Legends says that the god Manjushree cut the gorge to drain out Kathmandu Valley which was then a lake. There is a small but pictusque temple of Adinath on the top of a hill. From this point, one has a complete view of snow-capped mountain peaks. Just beyond the Chobhar Gorge. There is the 17th-century temple of Jal Vinayak. The main image of the temple is on a massive rock. Only a small part in front vaguely resembles an elephant’s head. The image at Jal Vinayak is different from other images of Lord Ganesh.
Shrine of Shekha Narayan is situated between Chobhar and Dakshinkali which represents one of the four Narayans of the Kathmandu Valley. The shrine stands on a hillock beneath a stalactite rock. At the base of Shekha Narayan is a pond with several verities of fish.
The temple of Dakshinkali is situated about two kilometers south of Shekha Narayan. Dakshinkali is an important place of pilgrimage, drawing over 400,000 pilgrims a year. Pilgrim visit this temple to offer prayers and animal sacrifices to the Goddess Kali. Apart from the religious aspects, the site has also been developed as a popular picnic spot.
There are various places around the edge of the Kathmandu Valley which offer great mountain views, but the resort village of Nagarkot is generally held to be the best mountain watchers make their way up to the village, stay overnight in one of Nagarkot’s lodges or hotels than rise at dawn to see the sun appear over the Himalayas.
Nagarkot is popular tourist resort of Nepal. It is situated 32 Kilometers east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2175m. above the sea level. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Nepal Himalayas including Mt. Everest can be seen from here. Himalayan peaks like Manaslu (8463m) Ganesh Himal (7111m) Langtang (7246m) Gaurishanker (7134m) can also clearly seen from Nagarkot. A motor able road links Nagarkot with Bhaktapur.
Goddess Manakamana is highly noted as a wishful filling goddess through out the country. The holy temple of goddess Manakamana lies on a beautiful ridge west of Kathmandu valley. It is said that she is the younger sister of goddess Kali. She is regarded to be a very sacred goddess. The temple is important from the historical and archeological point of view. It is a famous pilgrimage site for Hindus. Manakamana is four hours walk up hill from the highway. On the occasion of Visit Nepal Year 1998, the cable cars have been plied from Kurintar Village, Chitwan to the hill of Manakamana, which takes only 8 minutes to reach there.
Daman is situated 80 kilometers southwest of Kathmandu at an altitude of about 2,400m. Daman is located on the Tribhuvan Highway in between Kathmandu and the town of Birgunj. For the view of breathtaking grandeur of the world’s highest peaks extending in one glittering are from far-west of Dhaulagiri to far-east of Mt. Everest there is no better place than Daman. There is a view tower fitted with long range telescopes. Daman can be reached in four hours drive from Kathmandu.
Pokhara valley is situated at an altitude of 827 meters above the sea level and is 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu valley. Prithivi Raj Marga is the highway linked with by Bhairahawa by Siddhartha Raj Marga [Sunauli border] It is a combination of the long arrays of world famous snow clad peaks, emerald lakes, turbulent rivers with deep Georges and picturesque villages inhabited by Magar, Gurungs and Thakalis. Pokhara offers the magnificent views of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhare, five peaks of Annapurna Himalayas and others. Pokhara numerous lakes known as “Tal” in Nepal offer fishing, boating and swimming, which ensure the famous Phewa, Begnas and Rupa lakes of Pokhara. Pokhara is also referred as the center of adventure. It is the starting point for most of the popular trekking & rafting destination. The serenity of Phewa lake and the magnificence of Machhapuchhare [6,977m] rising behind it, creates an ambiance of peace and magic
Phewa lake is situated at an altitude of 784m above sea level with an island temple at the middle of the lake. It is second largest lake in the kingdom. Temple situated at the island is the two storied pagoda dedicated to the boar magnification of Ajima. The reflection of Mt. Machhapuchhare & Annapurna can be seen in its serene water. Thick forest lies on the adjoining southern slopes of the lake.
Begnas & Rupa Lake:
Lies in the north-east of the Pokhara valley at the distance of 13kms from the main city. These lakes are locates at the foothill of Begnas, mountain and are separated by the Pachabiya hill.
Seti River Gorges carved by Seti-Gandaki is one of the natural wonder of Pokhara. K.I. Singh bridge at Bagar, Mahendrapool & Prithivi highway Bridge near bus park, provides a perfect view of the river’s dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by the turbulent flow of white water.
Davi’s fall locally known Patale Chhango in the southern flank of the Pokhara valley is where the stream flowing from Fewa lake collapses and surges down the rock into a deep gage, leaping through several potholes.
Mahendra cave lies at the north of the Pokhara valley. It is a large limestone cave which is one of the few stalagmites stalactite caves found in Nepal.
Tibetan Village Tashiling in the south and Tashii Palkhel in the north of Pokhara valley is the two Tibetan village which is inhabitant by the Tibetan people who keeps themselves busy by producing and trading woolen carpets and other handicrafts.
One museum display the life styles and history of the Gurungs, Thakalis and Tharu and other one Natural history museum and is functioned by the Annapurna Conservation area project. Butterflies, insects, birds and wild life found in the Annapurna region.
Spectacular Panorama of the Annapurna range forms the backdrop of Pokhara valley. The mountains stretching from east to west includes Annapurna I to IV. It lies at the distance of 40kms from the valley and at the elevation of 900m. Among these Annapurna. Annapurna I (8.091m high is the highest peak. Mt. Machhapuchhare with its pyramid shape dominated all the other neighboring Peaks. The other peaks are Mt. Dhaulagiri 8167m, Lamjung Himal 6983m and Manaslu 8163m and Himalchuli.
This is the most important religious monument in Pokhara. Built almost in the middle of Phewa Lake, this two-storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protectors deity representing the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturday, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity.
World Peace Pagoda a massive Buddhist Stupa, is situated on top of a hill on the southern shore of Phewa Lake. Besides being an impressive sight in itself, the shrine is a great vantage point which offers spectacular views of the Annapurna range and Pokhara city. You can get there by crossing the lake by boat and then hiking up the hill.
Bindhyabasini Temple is the center of religious activity in the old bazaar. It is dedicated to Goddess Bhagawati, yet another manifestation of Shakti. The park like grounds offer a fine picnic area, and on Saturday and Tuesday when devotees flock there to offer sacrifices, take on a festival local flavor.
Pony treks are becoming more popular by the day. With a landscape varying from the even lakeside to small hills with the most famous view in the country. Pokhara provides a magnificent opportunity for sightseeing on horseback.
Lumbini is the birth place of Lord Buddha, the apostle of peace and compassion. It is 21 km west of Bhairahawa and 285 km south-west of Kathmandu. It is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhist as well as place of reverence for peace lovers of any religious faith throughout the world. In Lumbini the central attraction is the sacred garden with Maya Devi temple depicting the birth of Lord Buddha, Ashoka Pillar pinpointing the birth place of Buddha and Shakya Tank where Maya Devi, the mother of Lord Buddha, is supposed to have taken a dip before bringing forth the baby – Lord Buddha. Around this holy site, there are remnants of Monasteries and Chaityas built over the centuries following Buddha’s birth in 632 BC.
The work is underway at Lumbini to transform three square miles of flat, empty land into an expression of Buddha’s peace and compassion creating a sculpted landscape to make the teaching of Lord Buddha accessible to all humanities. The project area designed on a north-south axis encompasses three zone each covering one square mile. The Lumbini village lies as a gateway to the outer world. The second zone, on either side of a canal and walkway will be developed into a monastic enclave where nations, institutions and organization can build places of worship that reflect varying religious ideals and styles. A meditation center will be the highlight of this zone. The third and most important zone is the sacred garden itself where the beauty of its plant life will be restored to create a reverent atmosphere in which one can experience Buddha’s universal message.
Tansen is a bright Himalayan town situated on the slopes of a hill called Shreenagar Danda. Situated at an altitude of 1343meter above sea level. Tansen is the most popular summer resort in western Nepal on account of its position and climate. It has perhaps Nepal’s most far stretching views of the country’s chief attraction the Himalayas, from Dhaulagiri in the west to Gaurishanker in the northeast. From Shreenagar Danda one can have the views of sweeping Tinau river valley below and the surrounding Mahabharat hills including Terai’s flat lands to the far south. Tansen is the headquarter of Palpa District
Kakani is located 29 km north-west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1982 m above sea level and is famous for the magnificent view over Kathmandu Valley and the north-western Himalayas ranges against the vastness of the sky. The fabulous area of Kakani features attractions ranging from beautiful alpine scenery to the magnificent Himalayan Panorama particularly the Ganesh Himal massif. A close view of the other peak of Himalayas which can be seen from here are Gaurishanker (7134 in), Choba Bhamte (6016 in), Dorje
Lakpa, Manaslu (8163 in), Himalchuli (7893 in), Annapurna (8091 m) and the other several peaks. A majestic view of the sunset can also be seen from this place. A trip to Kakani along the beautiful highway of Trishuli Road, is scenically rewarding with green forest and mountains grandeur in one direction and fertile river flats and terraces cultivation on the other. This road begins from Balaju and terminates at Kaule from where the road bifurcates.
Dhulikhel is an ancient town located at 30 km east of Kathmandu along the Kathmandu – Kodari or Arniko Highway (way to Tibet) is famous for its scenic beauty and tradition – a lovely place. From this place, one can have a complete panoramic view of the snowy ranges of Annapurna range, Langtang, Choba Bhamre, Gaurishanker, Number Karyolung etc. From here one has a good view of the sunrise.
This Namo Buddha is situated on a hill above Panauti and requires either drive or good hike, walk is recommended to visit this place. There is an amazing story concerning Buddha being commemorated by an ancient stone slab and a stupa with the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. It is an ideal place for in meditation. Monsoon i.e. May, June & July are not recommended. About two and a half hours north of Dhulikhel on foot, the stupa rest on a red-earth ledge near the tops of jungle ridge. During February-March pilgrimage season, Tibetans and Bhotias arrive by the vanload to circumambulate it. Among the houses surrounding the stupa is a dinky Tamang ‘Gompa’ when you can enter.
A trial leads up to a bigger Tibetan gompa on top of the prayer flag festooned ridge behind and in one of the out buildings is preserved a famous stone relief sculpture depicting the legend of Namo Buddha. According to the fable Buddha, in on of his previous lives as a hunter, encountered a starving tigress and her cubs here, and moved by compassion, offered his own flesh to her, a sacrifice that helped pave the way for his eventual rebirth as the historical Buddha. The stupa is supposed to contain the hunter’s bones and hair.
Palanchowk Bhagwati is situated over the hill overlooking the valley of Panchkhal and 40 km north-east of the Kathmandu city. This temple of Palanchowk Bhagwati is said to have been constructed during the reign of King Man Dev. The temple houses a 3 feet long beautiful artistic idol of Goddess Bhagwati carved in a black stone.
Panauti is wedged between the Punyamata and Roshi streams. Panauti forms the shape of a triangle with a serpent (Naga) idol standing at each of its three corners to protect from floods. Pride of this place goes to the massive, three-tired Indreshwor Mahadev. Some authorities believe this to be the original structure that was raised here in 1294 AD, which would make it the oldest surviving Nepal. The shrine area at the sacred confluence called the Khware’, is one of those tranquil spots that can way lay a dreamer for hours. The large ‘battal’, a favorite hang out for the local pensioners, the collective range of fresco depicting scenes from Hindu and some Buddhist mythology. Vishnu in cosmic deep, Rama killing the ten-headed demon-king Ravana and even Krishna being chased up a tree by a pack of naked Gopis (milkmaids). On the opposite back stands the recently restored 17th century Brahmayani Mandir.
Janakpur is the great religious place, famous as the birth place of Sita – the consort of Lord Rama and the heroine of great Hindu epic, the RAMAYANA. There is an artistic marble temple of Sita (known as Janaki) which is popularly known as Naulakha Mandir (Means temple built at the cost of NRs 900,000). Religious festivals, pilgrimages trade fairs and other festivities are held here on Bivaha Panchami and Ram Navami. One can visit Janakpur by surface as well as by air, but, except, for small lodges standard accommodations are not available here. It is at least an overnight trip
Barahachetra is a few kilometers away from the main city of Dharan, on the bank of the River Koshi. Barahachhetra the holy place of Hindu Pilgrimage lies at the confluence of two rivers the Sapta Koshi and Kokaha. It is the temple of Lord Baraha, the boar incarnation of the Lord Vishnu. Historians have traced the existence of this image from the 12th century. This place is accessible by surface and by air via Biratnagar. It will be two overnight trip. Standard hotels are available in Biratnagar, but not deluxe.
Antu Danda is located at an altitude of 1677 m in the 11am district and is famous for its unique views of Everest and Kanchenjunga. From here the hills of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mink can bee seen. It is the best place for viewing the sunrise and the sunset. A memorable graveled road is only up to Chhipitar and from here it requires 4 to 5 hours of walk to reach Antu Danda. To reach this place, one can go by surface or can fly up to Biratnagar and then drive to this place. Minimum 2 to 3 nights require to visit this place with camping equipment.