The Himalaya Kingdom of Nepal is blessed with such astonishing and uniques sites that within the area if 1,47,181 sq km Nepal holds a considerably high number og places recognized by UNESCO as ” World Heritages Sites”. There are altogether ten World Heritage Sites in Nepal, seven of which are in Kathmandu itself. THe list includes both batural as well as cultural.
The cultural heritage sites of the Kathmandu Valley (1979) is illustrated by seven groups of monuments and building which display the full range of historic and artistic achievementfor which Kathmandu Valley is world famous for. The sites include the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathamandu Durbar Square), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupa of Soyambhunath and Boudhanath, and the Hindu temples of Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan. The other cultural heritage site of Lumbini (1997) is the birth place of Lord Buddha.
The two natural heritage of Chitwan National Park (1984) and Sagarmatha National Park (1979) are enlisted in the World Heritage Sites with dramatic mountains, glaciers, deep valley and undisturbed vestiges of the “Terai” region. Several rare species, such as the snow leopard, lesser panda, single-horned Asiatic rhonoceros and the Bengal tiger are found in these park.
The capital of Nepal is Kathmandu, means ‘A Wooden Mandap’ or ‘Temple’ believed to been constructed from the wood of single tree, built by King Laxmi Narsingh Malla at the beginning of the 16th century. This wooden Mandap is situated in the heart of city near Darbar Square. Kathmandu is infested with Temples, there are more than 2000 temples, big and small both. Spread across an area of 360 square kilometers, the Kathmandu Valley is the political, commercial and cultural hub of Nepal. It consists of four major cities carrying great historic, artistic and cultural interest. They include Kathmandu (Kantipur), Patan (Lalitpur), Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon) and Kirtipur. Ironically speaking, Kathmandu valley was an empire consisting of for petty kingdoms till the Seventeenth Century A.D. The four kingdoms of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur have today appeared as independent modern cities.
Sites Around Kathmandu
- Durbar Square Kathmandu
It is the historic seat of royalty. The durbar square, with its old temples and places, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that Kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Interesting things to see here are; Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D. Kal Bhairav Temple (the God of destruction), Nautalle Durbar (old Royal Palace), Coronation Nasal Chow, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Big Drum and, the Jaganath Temple.
Located near the Temple of Kumari, it is said to have been built by King Laxmi Narsingha Malla in the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is believed to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. The city of Kathmandu derives its name from this temple.
- Kumari House
This residence of Living Goddess consists of a three storied structure built round an enclosed courtyard and the main entrance is guarded by two huge stone lions. The external facade and inside facade facing the courtyards are embellished with the exquisite wood carved windows and doors. The main shrine is directly opposite to the entrance and there is a Buddhist stupa in the central of the courtyard. Kumari House is considered as the shrine of the living goddess ‘Kumari’ a Buddhist girl – chosen and worshipped as an carnation of Hindu mother deity.
- The National Museum
Located about 2 km west of Kathmandu, the National Museum has a splendid collection of weapons and artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. Its archaeological and historical displays are worth seeing. The museum is closed on Sunday & Monday and government holidays.
Located 29 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu city, the fabulous holiday spot of Kakani features attractions ranging from beautiful alpine scenery to the magnificent Himalayan panorama(subject to weather condition)particularly of the Ganesh Himal massif. Other peaks that can be closely seen from Kakani are Mt.Gauri Shanker(7,134 meters), Choba Bhamare(6109 meters), Manasalu Peak(8163 meters), Himalchuli Peak(7893 meters), Mt. Annapurna I(8091 meters), Langtang(7246 meters)and other snow-capped peaks.
Bhaktapur is also known as Bhadgaon, stood the capital of Nepal Valley once during the olden days. According to a legend late King Anand Dev who belonged to the famous Lichhbi dynasty founded this city in 889 A.D. The Bhaktapur signifies the “City of Devotees”, with the sole majority Pottery plus weaving from its traditional industries. Still Bhaktapur produces the best yogurt of the Kingdom, so it is known as ‘Juju Dhou’ or ‘King curd’. While artisans of Patan excelled in metal-works, the artisans of Bhaktapur pursued the traditional craft of stone and woodcarving. Their excellence is still alive in the form of 55-windowed palace, the Golden-gate, the famous Peacock window, the Nyata-Pol Temple, and Datta-Tray Temple built during the reign of King Bhupatendra Malla who was considered the one of best rulers of his time. Today, Bhaktpur is a treasure home of medieval arts and architectures.
Sites Around Bhaktapur
- Durbar Square Bhaktapur
The main square of the city, which used to be the capital part if old Bhadgaon kingdom, contains numerous temples and monuments of wonderful nature. The first striking city mark would be the 55 window Palace built by late King Bhupatindra Malla with which the three remaining kingdoms of Kantipur, Lalitpur and Kirtipur envied a lot. This jealousy often leads to some political strife as well. During the Malla era Bhaktapur and Lalitpur particularly appeared as tough competitors. The 55 Windows Palace is a unique type of structure, so it is the only kind in all-modern Nepal without a single imitation or duplication or replica appearing elsewhere.
- The National Art Gallery
Although closed on Tuesdays exposes a large and detailed collection of marvelous stone – crafts and scroll – paintings. Entering through the Golden Gate and behind the 55 Window Palace, we come across Taleju Bhavani Temple and the Royal Bath. Very obviously every city has a Taleju Bhavani Temple as She is believed to be the Protectors of the city by the orthodox Hindus. The Royal Bath yet looks glamorous with the image of the Serpent God in the middle of the sanatorium although the water- Spout has completely dried up. Late King Ranjit Malla was the last of the Malla dynasty to take a holy bath. The 17th century also saw the downfall of the Malla monarchy.
Adjacent to the Durbar Square is a famous market plaza called Toumadhi Square. It is here that the striking landmark of the country stands tall and majestic. The Nyata-Pol Temple facing the cardinal direction of south is a Hindu pagoda, dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Luxmi. Built by late Bhupatindra Malla it is not only the tallest temple of the city, of the district of the valley but of the entire nation. It is about 190 feet above the city’s ground level. A dreadful earthquake shook Nepal in 1934. All the surrounding houses and minor shrines collapsed while this remained intact. To the right the Bhairav Temple looks magnificent. It faces the cardinal direction of west and is a center for animal sacrifice.
- Datta- Traya Square
Further to the northeast of Toumadhi Square is another interesting locality called Datta – Traya Square. In fact this is the second important urban spot of Bhaktapur. The Datta – Traya Temple also built by late Bhupatindra Malla in the 17th century is a famous pagoda carrying an amusing history. This is a wooden temple facing west; it is believed that the timber used for its relevant construction was sawed out of a single tree. The three-storied temple is dedicated to the three-headed Deity of the orthodox Hindus. It symbolizes the divine triad, a mere combination of Brahma ( the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Maheshwor (the Destroyer).
- Peacock Window
The Pujari-Math Temple has the renowned Peacock Window in the lane side facing the cardinal direction of east. It is pure wooden structure, a masterpiece indeed. Apart from these. there exist two special museums the Metal Craft Museum and the Wood Craft Museum.
This temple is situated northeast of Bhaktapur. Listed in the World Cultural Heritage, it is also a scenic spot situated at the altitude of about 1700 meters and 4 kilometers from Bhaktapur. It is said to have been built by King Hari Dutt Burma in 323 A.D. And the most authentic inscription located in the precinct of Changu Narayan is dated 464 A.D. and is accredited to the Lichhavi King Mandeva.
Patan “the city of Fine Art” has another name “Lalitpur”. This ancient city is located on the southern bank of the holy Bagmati River and is approximately five kilometers south east of the capital. The whole city is full of Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples with the fine bronze gateways marvelous status, guardians deities and magnificent carvings including stone carving ,metal carving and woodcarving. Well noted for its gorgeous craftsmen and metal workers it is often known as the city of superb artists. The majority of the citizens follow the Buddhist faith.
Sites Around Patan
- Durbar Square Patan
This Royal Palace Complex built during the Malla period and stood as the capital part till the 17th century. Situated in the heart of the city, it constitutes the salient focus of an alien visitor’s attraction. The square is built of ancient palaces temples, shrines and statues noted for their exquisite carvings. We owe all these grandeurs to the sovereign Malla dynasty. The last of the Malla dynasty was late King Tej Narsingh Malla. There include three main courtyards, the first being the Kasha Narayan Chowk which we have gotten to enter through the Golden Gate and under the Golden Window the second being the Taleju Bhavani Chowk; and the third being the Sundari Chowk carrying the Royal Bath called Tushahity. The single stone pillar on which sits late King Yog Narendra Malla facing the Taleju Bhavani Temple to the cardinal direction of east and the Gigantic Bell to its right are also worth mentioning.
- Krishna Temple
Built in the sixteenth century by late King Siddhi Narsingh Malla, this temple is made of pure stone. It is a marvelous structure constructed completely out of stone, It is a marvelous structure constructed completely out of stone, except for the few pinnacles or the spires adjusted out of metal. The carvings on its friezes depict battle scenes from the ancient Hindu epics of South Asia, the Ramayan and the Maha-Bharat in particular. Opposite remains the single stone pillar with a Garud sitting on paying decent homage to Lord Krishna.
This Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built during the peaceful reign of late King Jayasthiti Malla. The particular deity it houses is Kumveshwor Mahadev and the five-storied pagoda temple was constructed in sheer competition with the five-storied pagoda temple of Bhaktapur. Later in 1932 a golden finial was supplemented.
- Jagat Narayan Temple
This is a tall imposing Hindu temple belonging to Lord Bishnu, constructed out of attractive red bricks. It is situated in Sankhamul Ghat, which rests on the band of the holy Bagmati River. The temple contains numerous fine images in stone and an artistic metal statue of Garud on a stone pillar in this case also.
- Karunamaya Temple
This is a Buddhist pagoda solely dedicated to Lord Avaloketeshwor. Built in 1408, it is located in a large quadrangle called Tah Bahal, Also referred to as Red Karunamaya, the idol remains housed here for 12 fortnights and is highly worshipped by Tibetan, Sikkimese, Ladakhan and Bhutanese Buddhists as well.
- The Ashokan Stupas
There exist four ancient Buddhist Stupas popularly believed to have been built in 250 B.C. by Emperor Ashok. The great Hindu emperor of north India later happened to take refuge in the Buddha and embrace the Dharma, The neat grassy Stupas expose their beauty at each of the four corners of Patan. They give evidence to the chaitya’s ancient religious ancient religious importance and proudly support the sound proof of Ashok’s unanimous visit to the Himalayan Kingdom.
- The Tibetan Refugee Center
This is a busy Tibetan settlement with a Mahayan Buddhist monastery. Running a woolen carpet industry is today a big responsible job of the Tibetan society. “Jawalakhel Handicraft Center Pvt. Ltd.” is a typical pioneer Tibetan carpet manufacturer the factory of which stands the biggest in Lalitpur district. It is an extremely interesting place where one can keenly observe the technical process of spinning, dyeing and weaving of Shangri-La rugs performed by perfect Tibetan hands.
- The National Zoo
The only public zoo of the valley lies in the premises of Jawalakhel. A wide colossal compound with a pond in the middle, it contains numerous animals. Birds and reptiles mostly representing the Himalayan alpine fauna. It sure makes an enchanting area for zoological study-men and liberal holidaymakers. On the day of Jawala- Bhoe or Voto – Jatra, it is a great picnic spot.
- Patan Museum
Located in the palace complex of Patan Durbar Square, the Patan Museum is a house to some of the unique medieval works in bronze. The earliest specimens date back Lichhavi period. Most of the exhibits are deities from the Buddhist pantheon like images of Buddhas and Lokeswore. And in the lesser number, there are icons from Hindu pantheon like Vishnu and other deities.
Situated about 8 Kilometers. from the main town of Kathmandu. This is declared to stand as the largest Buddhist shrine of South Asia. Built by a Lichchavi king named Man Dev in the fifth century A.D. It has four pairs of eyes in the four directions that keep watch for righteous behavior. Boudha Nath stands on an octagonal base and also has ancient prayer wheels. It rests on a series of three terraces and from the bird’s eye view it takes the relevant shape of a lotus flower, which indeed remains a very holy object for the devout Buddhists of the entire world. This shrine is surrounded by a circular market, which forms a part of Town like in Tibet.
Soyambhunath Stupa, this is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist Stupas. It is said to be 2000 years old. Painted on the four-sides of the spire bases are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. It is three kilometers west of Kathmandu city and is situated on a hill, above 77 meters of the Kathmandu valley. It is indeed listed a World Heritage Site of Culture to prove that it serves as the nerve center of faithful worship for all the devout Buddhists of the universe. Soyambhu Nath embraces the authentic philosophy of Bajrayan in particular and honors Lord Adi Buddha. It is dedicated to the self-originating flame God. On the hind hill is located another important Buddhist shrine; it is called Manjushree. This compassionate Chinese Buddha is the God of knowledge.
Pashupatinath, situated five kilometers east of Kathmandu on the bank of Bagmati river, the temple of Lord Shiva-Pashupatinath with two tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb architecture as well as an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. Every year, thousands of devotees visit here on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri Festival. Lord Shiva is known as the destroyer and creator of the Hindu religion and appears on many forms. Only Hindus are allowed to enter the main temple. For none Hindu, visitors can clearly seen the temple and the activities performed in the temple premises from the eastern bank of the Bagmati river.
Nagarkot, this hill resort is situated northeast of Kathmandu valley (2175 meters) and an important starting points for short treks to Changu Narayan Temple, Sankhu, Dhulikhel and Melamche Bazar. Nagarkot is situated about 10 kilometers from Bhaktapur town and just an hour’s drive from Kathmandu. It has been a weekend spot for mountain viewers in quiet and comfort, as well as an ideal hill side spot for local picnic and nature and dating lovers. The sunrise and sunset from this hill resort present you the breathtaking view (subject to weather condition) of the Himalayan ranging from Dhaulagiri (8167 meters) in the west to the Mt. Everest (8848 meters) in the east, including Mt. Langtang (7246 meters) and Mt. Ganesh (7406 meters).
Dhulikhel as small hill town but an important gateway to eastern Nepal. This town offers a traditional atmosphere along with spectacular views. From here one can have a complete panoramic view (subject to weather condition) of the snowy ranges from Mt. Karyolung Peak in the east to Himchuli Peak in the west, including Mt. Everest (8848 meters) as well as the view of eyes-feasting greenery of beautiful surrounding villages and rural life-style of this mountainous country. Situated just past Banepa some 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu. Dhulikhel is a magnificent place to spend a night and awaken to enjoy the sun rising in panoramic wise across the northern Himalayan range. Once an important link in the ancient trade route to Tibet, Dhulikhel has a glorious past which can be witnessed in the lovely buildings and intricate woodcarvings found along the shop-lined streets and in the temples.
This mountain city is the main trek starting and ending points for Mt. Annapurna Region and situated 200 kilometers away from Kathmandu. The Pokhara valley stands one of the most picturesque sites of Nepal. Some believe it to be the Nepalese Paradise in the ecological sense. The perpetual beauty of the valley is enhanced by its three renowned lakes including Phewa, Begnas and Rupa, which own their natural resource in the glacial sector of the Annapurna Range of the Supreme Himalayas. The Annapurna Range is virtually the abode of five major peaks namely Annapurna I, Annapurna II , Annapurna III, Annapurna IV and Annapurna South. The scenic beauty of the tall deep waterfall also makes our trip more enchanting. The striking landmark is none other than Mt. Machhapuchhare (the metaphorical usage of Fish-Tail).
Sites In and Around Pokhara
The moment you step into any part of Pokhara the first thing that takes you to a spontaneous delight is the
gorgeous view of the gigantic mountains. Pokhara is, in fact, the first and foremost convenient point for mountain-oriented sightseeing. Mt. Annapurna. Literally meaning the goddess of abundant harvest, lies at a horizontal distance of 40 kilometers from the valley of Pokhara, which remains at an elevation of just 900 meters above the mean sea level. Here is clear clue for the identification of mountain peaks visible from Pokhara. At the extreme left isolated from the massif is visible the peak of Mt. Dhaulagiri (8,167).
- Phewa Tal:
The lake in the immediate vicinity of the city is the Phewa Tal with an island temple dedicated to Goddess Barahi in the middle. With its serene water reflecting the Annapurna Range and nicely reserved woods in the adjoining southern slope, this legendary second largest lake of the kingdom is indeed a source of attraction for the visiting tourist. Swimming and boating can also enjoy on this lake.
Above the Bindabasini Temple, a ridge road leads to Sarangkot along with panoramic view of northern mountains as well as Pokhra Valley. Annapurna range and overlook the valley of Pokhara to enjoy the eye fast of the east. A view tower has been built in the top of Sarangkot hill at an elevation of 1,600 meters.
- Tibetan Village:
There are two Tibetan villages in the vicinity of Pokhara. One of them called Tamshiling is in the south past Patellae Chhango. The other village by the name of Tashi Palkhel id in the north of Pokhara at the place called Hyangja in Pokhara- Baglung Highway. The Tibetan people living in these villages keep themselves bust by producing and trading in woolen carpets and other handicraft items.
- Patale Chhango:
This sightseeing spot is popularly known as Devi’s Fall in the southern flank of the Pokhara Valley, and left of the Siddhartha Highway carves another amazing course. At this point the stream overflowing Phewa lake suddenly collapses surges down the rocks into a deep gorge, leaping through several potholes before taking a final long plunge.
- Begnas and Rupa Lakes:
These twin lakes lie to the north-east of Pokhara Valley about 15 kilometers away form the airport. The road to Begnas follows Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway ( the Prithvi Highway to some) as far as Sisuwa near the police check post and branches off the road towards north. It is possible to fetch a bus-ride to the dam side of Begnas from the city. A small hill called Pachbhaiya, which separates the two lakes cab, be reached in 30 minutes on foot from the Begnas bus stop. From a convenient point on this hill one can overlook the twin lakes in either side. These two lakes provide an opportunity for angling, canoeing. Sunbathing and bird watching.
- Mahendra Cave:
It is another interesting natural site across the Seti River past Batulechour village in the north of Pokhara Valley. It is one of the few stalagmite-stalactite caves found in Nepal. The cave has not yet been fully explored and it conceals more than the present first galleries. A flashlight is worthwhile to explore the interior.
- River Gorges
The Seti River carves a deep course through the city area of Pokhara from Bagar in the north to Sita Paila in the South. The Deep gorge can be viewed from any bridge over the Seti River K. I. Singh Bridge at Bagar, Mahendra Bridge at downtown and Prithivi Highway Bridge near the bus park. Looking down these bridges one can see the white turbulent flow of the Seti through an incredibly narrow canyon about 26 meters below.
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, in the Terai plains of Nepal is one of the greatest pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. More than 400,000 Buddhists and non Buddhists visit Lumbini every year. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture) and holds immense archeological and religious importance. Sacred Garden: It was here in the gardens of Lumbini that Prince Siddhartha Gautam, who later became the Buddha, was born in 623 BC. The nativity site is marked by a commemorative pillar erected by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka of India during his pilgrimage to the holy site in 249 BC. The inscription on the Ashoka Pillar indentifies the Sacred Garden – spread over 9 sq. km – as the spot where the Enlightened One was born. A large number of Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world visit Lumbini to pray at the Mayadevi Temple where excavations have revealed the “marker stone” showing the exact spot where Siddhartha Gautam Buddha was born. The sacred Puskarni Pond where Queen Mayadevi had taken a bath before the birth of Buddha lies to the south of the pillar. It was also in this pond that the infant Buddha was given his first bath.
To the north of the Sacred Garden are monastic zones where different countries have built temples and monasteries depicting different sects of Buddhism. The Myanmar Temple (Lokamani Cula Pagoda) is a shiny gold and white structure that resembles the Shwe-dagon Pagoda of Yangon while the International Gautami Nuns Temple is a replica of the Swayambhu Stupa of Kathmandu. The China Temple, built by the Buddhist Association of China, is a complex of pagodas, prayer rooms and meditation cells. Across the road is the Dae Sung Suk Ga Sa Korean Temple. The Japan Peace Stupa, built by Nippon Jon Kyohoji of Japan, is a 41-m tall structure with four different Buddha statues set into the stupa’s dome facing the four cardinal directions. Other beautiful monuments and temples have been built by Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, France, Germany and Sri Lanka.
Sites In and Around Lumbini
Identified by archaeologists as the capital of Kapilvastu, Tilaurakot lies 27 km west of Lumbini, where excavations are on to unearth the ancient palace of King Suddhodhan, Siddhartha Gautam’s father. The Buddha is believed to have spent the first 29 years of his princely life in Tilaurakot.
Located some 4.5 km south of Tilaurakot, Kudan is where King Suddhodhan met Lord Buddha for the first time after returning from his enlightenment. It was here that the Kasaya (yellow robe worn by monks) was presented to Lord Buddha. It was also here that the Kasaya was presented by Lord Buddha to Rahul, his son.
About 5 km from Tilaurakot, Gothihawa is where Krakuchanda Buddha, who preceded Shakyamuni Buddha, was born. Remains of a broken Ashoka Pillar and relics can be seen here.
About 8 km from Tilaurakot, Niglihawa is where Kanakmani Buddha was born. Here too one can see remains of a broken Ashokan Pillar. Devdaha: The capital of the Koliya kingdom and maternal home of Mayadevi, Devdaha is 35 km to the northeast of Lumbini. This is where Siddhartha Gautam spent his childhood.
Forest site is identified by archeologists as the “Palace of the Massacre of the Shakyas” by the invading forces. The ruins of the ancient site lie on the west and south banks of a large rectangular pond known locally as Lumbu Sagar, or long pond, in Niglihawa village. Sagarahawa is 12 km north of Taulihawa municipality in Lumbini.
Chitwan literally means “heart of the jungle”. In recent years Chitwan tops the list of things to do in Asia. It is a truly wildlife adventure of a different kind – jungle safaris on elephant backs or jeeps, birdwatching, canoe rides and jungle walks.
The Chitwan National Park is Asia’s best preserved conservation area, where wildlife thrives and their habitats remain intact. Only half-hour flight from Kathmandu, the park lies in the Inner Terai lowlands and consists of Sal forests, tall elephant grasslands, hills, ox-box lakes and flood plains of the Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers. Enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Natural) in 1984, the park spreads over an area of 932 sq. km.