MAJOR SIGHTSEEING PLACES IN NEPAL
The Kathmandu Valley has a traditional as well as modern setting. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, the Valley consists of three cities of historic, cultural and political importance – Kantipur, Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon). Covering an area of 218 sq. kms, the Kathmandu Valley is situated at 1136m above sea level. A bird’s eye view of the Capital features the city as an oval shape with the sacred river Bagmati and its tributary Bishnumati wedding towards the south. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is named after Kasthamandap, an imposing pagoda near Hanuman Dhoka Palace. It is believed that King Gunakama Dev built the city in 723 A.D. The major tourist attractions in Nepal are:
KATHMANDU DURBAR SQUARE
It represents the historic seat of the monarchy where the kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. The interesting attractions here are:
(1) Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.
(2) Gigantic statue of Kal Bhairav, an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
(3) Basantapur Durbar or Nautalle Durbar, built by the founder of the Shah dynasty, King Prithvi Narayan Shah
(4) Nasal Chowk or the Coronation Platform
(5) Gaddi Baithak or the Hall of Public Audience
(6) the statue of King Pratap Malla,
(7) the Big Bell,
(8) the Big Drums, and
(9) the Jagannath Temple.There is also a temple of Pancha Mukhi Hanuman – the popular Hindu Monkey G8od. It is one of the only two such structures in Nepal, the other is in the renowned Pashupatinath Temple. Opposite to the entrance of Hanuman Dhoka stands the magnificent
(10) Krishna Mandir, which is one of the few temples that is octagonal shaped.
The other major attractions of Durbar Square are:
(11) The Kumari Ghar (housing the residence of Kumari, the Living Goddess of Nepal) and the
(12) Kasthamandap Temple,
(13) Narayan Temple,
(14) Shiva Temple,
(15) Lohan Chowk,
(16) Lalitpur Tower,
(17) Bhaktapur Tower,
(18) Kritipur Tower,
(19) Hanuman Dhokha,
(20) Shiva Parbati Temple, Pratap Malla Column,
(21) Mohan Chowk,
(22) Sundari Chowk,
(23) Kageshvara Mahadev Temple, and
(24) Indra Temple.
Bhaktapur, situated at an altitude of 1401 m, is a home to medieval art and architecture. The urban city covers an area of 4 square miles. Bhaktapur means the city of devotees. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. The city lies about 14 kilometres east of Kathmandu. The major sightseeing places in Bhaktapur include:
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like the Lion Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the Picture Gallery, the Golden Gate, the Palace of 55 Windows, the Batsala Temple and the Bell of Barking Dogs, the replica of Pashupatinath Temple etc.
The other major attractions are:
Bansi Narayan Nag Pokhari
Batsale Durga Temple Nyatopola Temple
Beko Chowk Palace with the flying windows
Bhairav Temple Pashupati Temple
Bhagabati Temple Sun Dhoka (Golden Gate)
Durga Temple Taleju Temple
Kumari Chowk Taleju Bell
King Malla Column Taleju Chowk
This is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist chaityas. It is around 2000 years old. The chaitya, which forms the main structure, is made of brick and clay supporting the lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painted on the four-sides of the spire bases are the eyes of Lord Buddha. It is three kilometres west of Kathmandu City, and is situated on a hillock about 77m above the level of the Valley. This hill is a mosaic of small chaityas and pagodas.
The stupa of Bouddhanath lies eight kilometres east of bouddhanath3.jpgKathmandu. This colossal and ancient stupa, one of the biggest in the world, features the eyes of Lord Buddha. The Lichchhavi king Kana Dev built it in the 5th A.D. It is built on an octagonal base inset with prayer wheels.
About eight kilometres north of Kathmandu, at the base of Shivapuri hill lies a colossal statue of Lord Vishnu, resting on Shesh Nag, in a holy pond. A masterpiece of stone sculpture of the Lichchhavi period, this site is a famous place of pilgrimage for Hindus. It is the most beautiful among all the stone engarvings within the Kathmandu Valley.
changunarayan1.jpgThe temple of Changunarayan is said to be the oldest in the Kathmandu Valley. Although it was rebuilt in 1702, its origin goes back to the 4th Century. Located on the top of a spur rising in the eastern part of the valley, it is 22 kilometres east from Kathmandu and 4 kilometres north of Bhaktapur.
This ancient town is situated 30 kilometers east of Kathmandu on the side of the Arniko Raj marga (Kathmandu-Kodari Highway) on the way to the Nepal – Tibet boarder. A lovely place famous for its scenic beauty and tradition, one can have a panoramic view of the Himalayas from Karyolung in the east to Himalchuli in the west.
gorakha1.jpgGorkha lies almost midway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. After travelling from Kathmandu towards Pokhara for 118 kilometres, the diversion to Gorkha is on the intersection at Abu Khaireni, and from there it is a short 18 kilometres drive northward to the birthplace of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the first ruler of the Shah Dev Dynasty.
Situated on a hill overlooking the snowy peaks of the Himalaya is the beautiful Gorkha Durbar, a fort, palace and temple complex. It was built during the reign of King Ram Shah (1606-1636). It was from this very palace that King Prithivi Narayan Shah began his campaign to unify the kingdom of Nepal. The temples of Gorhakhnath and Kali within the outstanding examples of Nepali architecture. Treks to Manaslu and Annapurna Circuit Treks begin from here.
lumbini1.jpgLumbini, the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha or The Buddha, is situated 250 kilometers southwest of Kathmandu. A broken pillar erected in 249 BC by the first major Buddhist ruler of India, Emperor Ashoka, proclaims in a now-extinct script that the emperor made three pilgrimages to the holy site. Lumbini recognized all over the world and its development is being undertaken by Buddhists from everywhere. In the same spirit,His Majasty’s Government of Nepal formed the Lumbini Development Trust in 1985 to oversee this development of the entire Lumbini area as a religious and pilgrimage center,
Around an hour’s drive northwest from Lumbini lies the interesting archaeological site of Tilaurakot. This has been identified as Kapilvastu, the capital of King Suddhodhana (Prince Siddhartha’s father) where the Buddha as Prince Siddhartha spent the early years o his life.
Namche Bazaar is the gateway to the Everest region. Situated in the lap of Khumbu Himal range and 241 kilometers away from Kathmandu east from Kathmandu, getting there takes 10 days by trekking via Jiri, but only two days if one takes the flight to Lukla from the capital, Kathmandu.
Headquaters of the Khumbu District and home to the legendary Sherpas, namche Bazaar is a thriving town set upon a concave hilltop offering views of Khumbila (5,761m), Thamserku (6,608m). Namche itself lies at an altitude of 3,440 meters and most trekkers going on to higher altitudes, take a stop-over at Namche.
muktinath1.jpgMuktinath is one of the important places of pilgrimage for the Hindus. The famous temple of Lord Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang. This temple is situated on a high mountain range and is visited by devotees during the hot season, especially during Hindu festivals like Janai Poornima and Ram Navami. Muktinath, situated about 18 kilometers Northeast of Jomsom at an altitude of about 3,749 metres, is a favourite among trekkers too. There are two ways to reach Muktinath from Kathmandu. The first way is to take a direct flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and from Pokhara to Jomsom and hike for a couple of hours via Kagbeni. The next route is to trek all the way from Pokhara. Trekkers are allowed to proceed beyond Kagbeni and the high trail from Jomsom to Tilicho is by organised group only.
nagarkot1.jpgNagarkot is a popular hill resort that is situated 32 kilometres east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,175 m above the sea level. It takes an hour’s drive to get there following the same route till a kilometer before Bhaktapur City from where the road turns left towards Nagarkot. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Nepal Himalayas including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest, 8,848m), can be seen from here. The breath – taking view of Himalayan peaks like Manaslu (8,463), Ganesh Himal (7,111 m), Langtang (7,246 m), Choba Bhamre (6,016 m), Gaurishanker (7,134 m) and Numbur (6,975 m) are also clearly seen from Nagarkot.
Situated five kilometres east of Kathmandu on the bank of the sacred Bagmati river, the temple of Lord Shiva-Pashupatinath with a two-tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb architecture. It is a centre of annual pilgrimage on the day of Maha-Shivaratri. Entrance is permitted for Hindus only. However, visitors can clearly behold the holy shrine and the religious activities being performed from the eastern bank of the Bagmati River.
This ancient city of Patan is situated on the southern bank of the river Bagmati and is about five kilometers Southeast of Kathmandu. The city is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments exhibiting skilful carvings. Noted for its craftsmen and metal workers, Patan is known as the city of architecture. The major tourist attractions are:
PATAN DURBAR SQUARE
Patan Durbar Square, situated in the heart of the city, the centre constitutes the of visitor’s attraction. It is full of ancient as well as medieval palaces, temples and shrines, noted for their exquisite carvings. One can rummage for furniture, paintings, precious gems and jewellery and other memorabilia in the various shops around the square. Adorning Patan are other architectural masterpieces such as:
Bhimsen Temple Keshab Narayan Chowk
Bishwanath Temple King Malla Column
Char Narayan Temple Krishna Temple
Degutaleju Temple Mangal Hiti
Ganesh Temple Mul Chowk
Garuda Statue Sundar Chowk
Hari Shankar Temple Taleju Bell & Temple
The Pokhara Valley is one of the most picturesque places. The lakes- Phewa, Begnas, and Rupa enhance the beauty of the Valley, which have their source in the glacial region of the Annapurna Range of the Himalayas. Pokhara is situated 200 kilometres north-west of Kathmandu and is connected by air as well or by a five-hour ride from Kathmandu. Pokhara Valley is situated at an altitude of 827 metres from the see-level. For mountain viewers, Pokhara offers the magnificent views of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhre, and five peaks of Annapurna range. Pokhara is one of the few places in the world to provide such a dramatic view in a subtropical setting. Machhapuchhre also called Fish-Tail Mountain, that is situated only 28 kilometres from Phewa Lake, and not a single mountain range intervenes between the two natural enties. Pokhara’s numerous lakes, known as “Tal” in Nepali offer tourists facilities likefishing, boating and swimming.
Devi’s Fall Mahendra Cave
Seti River Gorge Bindabasini Temple
Tibetan Refugee Camp Lake Side
Trekking from Pokhara
If Pokhara is famous for its lakes and mountain views, it is equally famous as a base for treks and expeditions into the Central Nepal Himalaya. The town is the best way to end the classic three-week Annapurna Circuit, an exhilarating trek that takes one to the spectacular Trans-Himalayan domain of Manang and Mustang in the rain shadow of the Annapurna range.
The old Newari Town settlement of Sankhu lies 17 kilometres further east of Boudhanath. Two kilometres above this village on a hill is the Vajra Jogini Temple, dedicated to another powerful Tantric deity. Legend has it that Vajra Jogini resided in the site of this temple much earlier than the period of Manjushree’s pilgrimage to worship Swayambhu. It was she who persuaded Manjushree to drain the lake that was the Kathmandu Valley. Once every year late winter, there is a colorful ceremony in which Vajra Jogini is paraded around Sankhu and her temple.