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Tourist Places To Visit In Kathmandu
The national and cultural capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is a historical city that dates back to over 2000 years ago, and its fascinating architecture narrates tales from ancient eras gone by. Also known as the ‘City of Temples’, its captivating sights and sounds are destined to transport you to a world you have yet to discover. The city that has inspired musicians to write songs about it over so many decades still manages to remain a muse to artists worldwide. With people that are as colorful as its heritage, Kathmandu is a city that sees a perfect blend of Hindu and Buddhist religions where all live and co-exist in flawless harmony with each other.
The Newars are the indigenous inhabitants of this city, and are the originators of civilization in the valley. They are also the creators of the different styles of architecture that is native to the temples of Kathmandu like the Pagoda style, the Shikhar style and the stupas. There is so much to know and discover about this multifaceted city that visiting it once will never be enough. Read on to know some of the best places to visit when you do stop by in Kathmandu.
One of the largest stupas in Asia and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Boudhanath is one of the top architectural landmarks in Kathmandu, along with being an important site for Buddhist worship. The structure has been designed in such a manner that the circular, symbolic construction depicts the three-dimensional nature of Buddha’s path towards enlightenment, and the all-seeing eyes of Buddha painted on the base of the stupa tower seem to follow visitors in whichever direction they move. Locally also known as Jharong Khashor, the Boudhanath has certainly become a favorite over the years in the hearts and minds of devotees and non-devotees alike.
Fondly called the ‘Monkey Temple’ by tourists due to the vast hordes of monkeys that flock here, you will find marked similarities between this stupa and Boudhanath; with its enthralling Buddha eyes, round structural design and a golden spire. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its name ‘Swayambhu’ literally means ‘the self-existent one’, and has been derived from the belief that this structure evolved spontaneously when the valley arose from a lake more than 2000 years ago.
The local custom is to walk around the temple in a clockwise manner of circumambulation, also known as ‘kora’; and the best time to do so is early during the day when the crowds aren’t so concentrated.
A gilded majestic structure located on the banks of Bagmati River, it is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the country, and also one of the largest. The main temple is unfortunately only accessible to Hindus, but a simple walk in the grounds of this temple complex will stir your senses as you take in the spectacles of numerous shrines, inscriptions and images in the compound. Inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since the 1970s, it is an imposing edifice that serves as the seat of Lord Pashupatinath, the lord of all beings; living and non-living.
A word of caution to those a little faint of heart; the banks of Bagmati also serve as cremation grounds for the deceased, so if these are scenes you are not accustomed to, beware of sights that might make you uncomfortable.
The oldest part of the city, and also a favorite among tourists; here you will find all varieties of shops, restaurants and hotels that you can fathom. This commercial hotspot is one of the best markets to buy souvenirs, munch on street food, hunt for your favorite books, or simply walk around in the mass of uncoordinated streets and shops to marvel at the colorful sights and sounds. One of the best shops to visit here is Paper Park, where you will find a wide range of objects like photo frames, photo albums, lamps, etc - all made from paper. Also keep in mind to check out Thamel Marg, which is the main street in the area, and Mandala Marg.
Asan Tole is a bustling focal shopping point for all things local and fresh, like fruits and vegetables. It is a popular area among growers and sellers especially where trade of indigenous, native produce can be witnessed daily. You will also find an array of exotic spices on sale here, along with yak merchandise like tails and skin. The Annapurna Temple located in this area is dedicated to the Goddess of Abundance; a fitting homage, keeping the vicinity in mind. Other prominent attractions include the Krishna Temple, the Ganesh Shrine and the Narayan Shrine. This is usually a stuffy and crowded marketplace, so make your way down here only if you are adept at battling out throngs.
Durbar, which means ‘courtyard’, is one of three main Durbar Squares of the Kathmandu Valley. It is essentially a part of the Royal Palace, and used to be the position of the king’s coronation proceedings and the workings of his administration. Today, it is the heart of the old town, a popular tourist destination, and one of Kathmandu’s most remarkable legacies with a number of notable structures to visit like the Jagannath Temple, Seto Bhairab, Taleju Temple, and Indrapur Temple, among others.
The earthquake of 2015 ended up causing considerable damage to the Square’s architecture, especially the famous Hanuman Dhoka Temple; nonetheless, it still remains a fascinating place to visit.
Garden of Dreams
Also known as Swapn Bagaicha, the garden was built in the 1920s by field marshal Kaiser Shamsher, and later restored by an Austrain-financed team in 2007. It provides a much-needed relief from the chaos and hustle and bustle of the main city area, and features fascinating details like the marble inscription from Omar Khaiyam’s Rubaiyat, ponds, fountains, and a peculiar ‘hidden garden’ in the south. Famous among tourists is the Kaiser Café located here, so do pay a visit to check out the cultural events and exhibitions featured.
Langtang National Park
The Langtang National Park lies around 30 km north of Kathmandu Valley, and while it’s the dwelling of animals like Himalayan black bear, snow leopards, red panda and wild dogs, it also houses a wide variety of indigenous vegetation and ecosystems. Nature lovers will find this haven a particularly refreshing respite from the pandemonium that is common in the city area. It also consists of trekking trails around the Gosaikuna Lake, Helambu and Langdang valley. Additionally, you can also choose to explore nearby villages and monasteries, alongwith brilliant views of nearby glaciers and mountains.