Cultural City Tour Kathmanduon Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Home to some of the cultures and religions that have shaped the philosophical outlook of the civilized world for the last thousand years, The Kingdom of Nepal is a true adventure place but beside the excellent trekking, the challenging whitewater rafting and stunning wildlife safaris, Nepal, and in particular the valley of Kathmandu, offers a wide range of interesting natural and cultural heritages to discover.
Situated at an altitude of 1370m and founded in the 8th century the valley of Kathmandu is composed of three royal cities, Kathmandu (capital city), Patan & Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon).
The valley surrounded by terraces and green hills topped off by snow capped peaks covers an area of 564 sq. kilometres. Kathmandu is a fascinating city and an ideal base for tourists and trekkers and has always been a renowned center for Buddhism and its art.
Among many interesting places you will find the Stupa of Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath and hundreds of temples depicting Buddhist and Hindu theology-complex where legend and reality live side by side.
A visit to the Kathmandu UNESCO world heritage sites is included in all trekking programs. An optional extra tour to the majestic ancient cities of Bhaktapur and Patan can be booked as an extra option. Read more
Durbar Square, Kathmandu
It is the historic seat of royalty. Durbar Square, with its old temples and palaces, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that the kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations take place.
Historic places of some interest include the Taleju Temple, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla and the Jagannath Temple.
You may also be interested to visit the Tribhuvan Museum inside the Hanumandhoka Palace building, although photography is prohibited inside this museums. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and government holidays.
This is the one of the UNESCO cultural heritage sites of Nepal.
Temple of Kumari
The temple or the residence of the living goddess, Kumari, is close to Hanumandhoka Palace. The building has ornate wooden balconies and window screens. Kumari may acknowledge the tourists from her balcony. Photography is prohibited.
Kathmandu Valley history, according to the legends, begins with Swayambhu, or “the self-existent”. Apparently Bodhisattva Manjusri alighted on a beautiful lake whilst travelling. He saw a lotus blossom that emitted brilliant light at the lake’s center, so he cut a gorge in a southern hill and drained the waters to worship the lotus. Men settled on the bed of the lake and called it the Kathmandu Valley. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri of Saraswati – the goddess of learning. Swayambhu is the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal. The stupa is amongst the most ancient in this part of the world. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the stupa. Other monasteries here have huge prayer wheels and fine Buddhist paintings.
Bouddhanath is amongst the largest stupas in South Asia, and is the focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty-six meters overhead. The stupa is built upon the ancient trade route to Tibet where Tibetan merchants have rested over many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many of them decided to live around Bouddhanath. This is still the best place in the valley to observe Tibetan lifestyle.
The temple of Pashupatinath is Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine and is a sprawling collection of temples, ashrams, ../images and inscriptions raised over the centuries along the banks of the holy Bagmati River.
The ornate pagoda, houses the sacred lingam or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva.
Chronicles suggest the temple’s existence before 400 A.D, but a shrine may have stood here nearly 1000 years before that.
The temple complex has been renovated and improved over the centuries. Entrance to the shrine is restricted to Hindus. However, one can still get a good view of the sacred temple from vantage points across the Bagmati.