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Kathmandu Sightseeing
Kathmandu Sightseeing Guide -TravelPuppy.com
Kathmandu Durbar Square

The Durbar Square tour will take visitors to the well-known places, having housed kings of different dynasties and temple symbolising the finest examples of Hindu and Buddhist architectures.

Kumari Temple

It is the residence of the Living Goddess and is built in traditional design with intricate woodcarvings. The virgin Goddess comes from the Newari Shakya caste, should not have any body marks, injuries and should be fearless to live alone in a dark room. She is replaced by another when she reaches puberty.

Swayambhu

One of the world’s most ancient, glorious, enigmatic and the holiest of Buddhist Chaityas, dating back more than 2,000 years. Located on a little hill, Swayambhunath, literally “the Self-Created or Existent”, is a mixture of small stupas and pagoda temples contributed over time by the succession of kings and noblemen. The major construction of the stupa is built with a solid hemisphere of brick and clay, sustaining a very high conical spire and capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painting on the 4 sides on the base are the “All Seeing Eyes” of Lord Buddha. The key features of Swayambhunath are “The Five Buddhas.”

Pashupatinath

A short stroll will take visitors to the temple of Lord Shiva-Pasupatinath with a two-tiered golden roof and silver doors. This construction is renowned for its grand Newari architecture, and is located close to the riverside of the sacred Bagmati River. Entrance to the temple area is allowed to “Hindus Only”; however, travellers can see the temple from the eastern riverfront of the Bagmati River.

Pashupati, the “Lord of the Animals” is the patron deity of Nepal and thought to have been discovered by a herder while 1 of his cattle was showering the earth with milk. Across the sacred river, above the furnished monuments, is the “Slasmantak or Mrigasthali Ban (forest)” where legend has it that Lord Siva inhabited a form of an antelope to evade the demigods.

Bouddhanath

This massive and ancient Stupa is one of Nepal’s most stunning monuments and believed to be the world's biggest. It interests Nepalese pilgrimage of Tibetan stock from as far as Dolpo and Mugu including Tibet, Ladhak in India and Bhutan. Baudhanath Stupa, with all seeing eyes of the Adi Buddha on all the 4 sides of the stupa, is said to support the remains of Kasyapa - the Buddha of the former time. The monument is 100 metres in diameter and was constructed on an octangular base.

At the base are prayer wheels created by the Lichchivi King Mana Deva in the 5th century. The stupa is 36 metres high above the base including the spire. The “all seeing eyes” and the pinnacle reflects the stages of enlightenment, symbol of royalty, compassion, knowing and nirvana. Many myths exist about the origins of the stupa.

Bhaktapur

Also known as Bhadgaon, at an altitude of 1,401 metres, is home to medieval art and architecture and was the site for Burtoluchhi’s Little Buddha. The urban city covers an area of 4 square miles. Shaped like a conch-shell, Bhaktapur, meaning city of Devotees, produces pottery and weaving as its traditional industries. Bhaktapur is in essence the Newari City and is 14 kilometres east of Kathmandu, one of Nepal’s greatest treasures. Further is the Patan (The City of Finest Arts).

Patan

Also called “Lalitpur” literally the city of fine arts, is perhaps a living museum as it retains a medieval air of the ancient times. Almost half the residents are craftsmen in their own right. Patan was one of the major Buddhist cities in Asia by the 7th century as scholars, pilgrims, monks from India, Tibet and China visited the city.

Legends say that at one stage the entire population of Patan City was comprised of monks and craftsmen only. The city is filled with Hindu temples, Buddhist monuments and structures with bronze gateways, guardian deities and intricate metal and woodcarvings. In ancient times the ancestors of present day craftsmen were invited to Tibet and as far as Peking to built pagodas, monasteries, and images of Buddha and other revered deities.

Key Attractions in Kathmandu

Durbar Square

Durbar Square is the heart of old Kathmandu and a group of temples and shrines, with elaborately carved roofs, doors and windows. A number of ancient buildings existed despite the huge earthquake of 1933; others were entirely reconstructed, not normally in their original form.

An ideal place to start travelling is the unprepossessing Kasthamandap, claimed to be the oldest building in the valley. Though its history is imprecise, it is said to have been constructed around the 12th century. It was first a community centre, then a temple to the god Gorakhnath, and more currently, a gathering place for porters in search of customers. Close by is the Maju Deval, a Shiva temple with steps that are great for watching peddlers, rickshaw wallahs and souvenir vendors providing all kinds of services to tourists.

Some other notable places include: the Great Bell, when rung, is believed to ward off evil spirits; the Jaganath Temple, famous for its blush-inducing array of erotic carvings; the fearsome stone image of the 6-armed Kala Bhairab; and the Taleju Temple, probably the most marvellous of the square's many temples. Regretfully, it is not open to the public; even the Nepalese are not allowed to enter and can only visit during the yearly Dasain festival.

Freak Street

Kathmandu's most renowned street from the hippy days of the 1960s and 70s runs south from Basantapur Square. Its real name is Jochne but since the early 1970s it has been known as Freak Street. In its heyday, the street's squalor and beauty was irresistible: the smell of sweet incense, children fluttering prayer wheels, cheap hotels, restaurants, and shops selling enlightenment, epiphany - anything. Not surprisingly, it made an instant attraction with the dusty-haired 'freaks' who gave the street its name. Freak Street's history and plum position in the heart of old Kathmandu still make it a popular destination.

Hanuman Dhoka (Old Royal Palace)

This palace was originally established during the Licchavi period, even though King Pratap Malla constructed most of it in the 17th century. Marking the entrance is Hanuman's statue, which is as memorial to the monkey god's brave help Rama during the events of the Ramayana. Protected under an umbrella, the statue's face is smeared with red splodges, a paste applied by faithful followers. There are stone lions on each side of the palace gate, one ridden by Shiva, the other by his wife Parvati. Instantly above is a brightly painted niche illustrated with a ferocious Tantric figurine.

There are many chowks or courtyards inside the palace as well as Nasal Chowk. During the Rana dynasty, this courtyard was used for coronations - a practice which continues today. Mul Chowk is the place of sacrifices made to Taleju Bhawani, the royal goddess of the Mullas, that takes place during the Dasain festival.

Offering views of Durbar Square, the western sector of the palace houses an attractive museum that celebrates King Tribhuvan's successful putsch against the Ranas. Inside you get a weird insight into King Tribhuvan's life: lots of personal effects, comprehensive photos, newspaper clippings and luxurious furniture and knickknacks.