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Nepal - Sightseeing Places - Kathmandu

The capital city, Kathmandu is enriched with temples more than homes and festivals exceeding the number of days in a year. The whole valley with its seven heritage sites has been enlisted in cultural World Heritage Site list. The place, which blends cultural vigor with modern facilities possible on earth is place liked by tourists been here. The place has more to offer and it is not only administrative capital of the country but to the fullest extend capital of traditional culture and physical resources. Three Durbar Squares - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath, Swoyambhunath and Changunarayan are the places most revered by the Kathmanduities and whole world.

Kathmandu is not big when one compares it to other cities in South Asia. Kathmandu is a fascinating old city today where pagodas, narrow cobbled lanes, old carved windows, and stone shrines are backdrops to the drama of life that continues unhindered. Here the experiences are amazing, views fascinating, and the climate charming.

There are living Goddesses whose smiles are a benediction. There are reincarnate Lamas who foresee the future with a roll of dice and scriptural reference. There are walks that lead the adventurous to legendary places where ogres once lived. There are hidden gardens behind palaces yet unseen and courtyards where miracles happen, and a city the Buddha visited.

Places to see in Kathmandu Valley

Hanuman Dhoka ( Durbar Square )
The square is the complex of palaces, courtyards and temples that are built between the 12th and the 18th centuries by the ancient Malla Kings of Nepal. It is the social, religious and urban focal point of the city. Taleju Temple , Kal Bhairab (God of Destruction), Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chowk, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Big Drum and the Jagnnath Temple are some of the interesting things to see in this Square.

An intriguing piece here is the 17 th century stone inscriptions that is set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages. It is believed that if anybody deciphers this entire inscription, the milk would flow from the spout, which lies just below the inscripted stonewall. Some people say that the inscription contains coded directions to a treasure King Pratap Malla has buried beneath Mohan chowk of Durbar Square .

There are several museums inside the palace building. There is an entrance feeof Rs. 250 for all the foreign visitors to visit all the museums of the palace building.

Akash Bhairav Temple
This is a three-storey temple situated in the main Market Avenue called Indra Chowk. The image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra (the God of Indra). The festival of Indra falls on monsoon season of Nepal.

Kumari Ghar (Temple of Kumari)
The temple or the residence of Living Goddess, Kumari, is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The building has beautifully carved wooden balconies and window screens. The Kumari- the living Goddess acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window. Photography is prohibited.

Kasthamandap
King Laxmi Narsingha Malla built this temple in the sixteenth century. It is said to be constructed from the wood of single tree. It is located near the temple of Kumari . Indeed the city of Kathmandu derives its name from this temple.

Behind Kasthamandap, there is a small but a very important temple of Ashok Vinayak, also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh.

Jaishi Dewal
Five minutes from Kasthmandap the Shiva Temple of Jaishi Dewal is famous for its erotic carvings. It is still one of the main tourist routes of the chariot festivals of Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra and other festivals.

Swayambhu Stupa
The most ancient and enigmatic of all the Valley's holy shrines lies 2 km west of Kathmandu city, across the Vishnumati river. The golden spire of Swayambhunath stupa crowns a wooded hillock and offers a commanding view of Kathmandu city. On clear days, one can even view a line of Himalayan peaks. The view is splendid at dusk as city lights flicker one by one, and even better when a full moon hangs in the sky.

The establishment of Swayambhunath Stupa goes back to the legendary beginning of the Kathmandu Valley.The legend says that when the bodhisattva Manjushri drained the waters of the lake to reveal the Kathmandu valley, the lotus of the lake was transformed into the hillock and the blazing light became the Swayambhu stupa. Swayambhunath stupa is a World Heritage Site.

Boudhanath Stupa
Bouddhanath is the center of Tibetan culture in Nepal. The 36-meter-high stupa of Bouddhanath is one of the largest stupas in South Asia. Bouddhanath Stupa was renovated by Licchavi rulers in the eighth century. The mandala design in Bouddhanath is a copy of the one in Gyangtse in Tibet.

The stupa is located in the area of ancient trade route to Tibet where Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Bouddhanath. Hence, a complete township has developed around Bouddhanath.

The stupa is said to entomb the remains of a Kasyap sage venerable both to Buddhists and Hindus. Smaller stupas are located at the base. Gompa monasteries, curio shops, and restaurants surround Bouddhanath.

Because of its location and size, it seems much larger than the Swayambunath Stupa, with the same hemi-spherical dome symbolizing the emptiness from which everything emanates. On top is the harmika painted on each side with the eyes of the Buddha symbolizing awareness, and above the spire with its 13 stages to the canopy. At ground level there is a brick wall with 147 niches and 108 images of the meditational buddha inset behind copper prayer wheels. Early morning and evening are the times to visit Bouddha to join the local residents in kora (walking the pilgrim's circuit, sometimes with Tibetan pilgrims on their hands and knees).

Balaju Water Garden
It is situated below Nagarjun Hill about five-kilometer northwest of Kathmandu City. The garden is known for its bank of 22 stone waterspouts (hiti) carved in the shape of sea-dragons. It also consists of religious shrines, fishponds and a replica of the statue of Budhanilkantha. . There is also a swimming pool inside the park.

Budhanilkantha
Situated below Shivapuri hill at the northern end of the valley, Buddhanilkantha temple is 9 km from Kathmandu city. The temple consists of a pond in which lies a great stone figure of the Hindu god Vishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent. The huge statue of sleeping Vishnu is carved from the single block of black stone of a type not found in the valley. It is believed that ages before the two hardworking farmers (husband and wife) discovered the statue when they were ploughing their field.

Besides Budhanilkantha temple, there are other two sets of exactly similar, but smaller statues of 'sleeping Vishnu' in the Valley. One set is in the Balaju garden and the other is hidden in the old garden of Hanuman Dhoka Palace of Kathmandu city. A prophetic dream of King Pratap Malla generated the belief that the King of Nepal should never visit Buddhanilkantha temple on threat of death. He then built the similar statue in two places.

Pashupatinath Temple
The temple of Pashupatinath is Nepal's most scared Hindu shrines and one of the subcontinent's greatest Shiva sites, a sprawling collection of temples, ashrams, images and inscriptions raised over the centuries along the banks of the sacred Bagmati river.

The richly- ornamented pagoda, houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva.
Chronicles indicate the temlple's existence prior to 400 A.D, but a shrine may have stood here nearly 1000 years before that. Legend says that Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unkown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him , and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga and overtime was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.

The temple complex has been renovated and improved over the centuries. Entrance to the shrine is only restricted to Hindus, however, one can still get the good view of the sacred temple from vantage points across Bagmati river. Across the river, one can also visit the temple of Guhyeshwori and a classic 6th century ekmukhi "one-faced" linga of Shiva.

Sightseeing Places
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