Some introductory images of Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu - Kathmandu is the perverted form of “Kastha Mandapa” meaning “Wooden Temple”. “Kastha Mandapa” was built in 16th century by king Laxmi Narshingha Malla. As the time passed by; local tongues took the easier way to speak so it became “Kathmandu” instead of “Kastha Mandapa”. In the past the word “Kathmandu” referred to a limited area, but now it refers the whole valley including Patan, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur. The rulers of these three kingdoms were jealousy on each other’s art and skill. They built the temples and displayed the woodcarving, stone carving and metal works in a competitive ways. Kathmandu is the city with simple and unique life-style and exciting cultural activities through out the year. It is an open-air museum to the world where many historical world heritage sites exist.

Kathmandu valley is an open air Museum to the world with seven UNESCO certified World Heritage Sites; Basantapur Durbar Square, Soyambhunath Stupa,
Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhnath Stupa, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Changu Narayan Temple.

*Basantapur Durbar Square
Durbar Square itself is the historical site filled with an old palace and temples. The Hanuman Dhoka, the door guarded by “Hanuman” the powerful disciple of Hindu God Rama is sitting at the entrance into the Royal palace turned into museum that keeps an account of the Royal ancestors. A nine-storied tower made of wood and brick takes to the height to some extent from where you can view over the city- all four directions. The temples of the Durbar Square display the ancient wood-works including some erotic carvings. Hindu God and Goddess (Mahadev and Parvati) keep watching through the window of the Mahadev-Parvati temple. The Taleju temple the house of the living goddess Kumari is another noted work of the medieval artists of Nepal.

*Swoyambhunath Stupa
This great Buddhist stupa with a pair of eyes on all four sides is more than 2000 year old. It is perfectly situated atop the hill in Kathmandu. The bottom hemispherical shape of the stupa is defined as the universe and two eyes mean that we have got to see the universe. And, there is a question mark below the eyes meaning that everything in the world is to be questioned to find out the truth and answers of what? How? Why? When? The top most part "Lotus" with eleven circles show the eleven different stages of meditation of Gautam Buddha before he received the enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. "Lotus" represents of Nirvana or enlightenment or the achievement of life.

The steep stone staircase with handrail and Buddha statues on both sides leads to the Soyambhu Stupa. Pigeons fly and monkeys roam around the stupa all the time. You must be careful with monkey business. Do not show any foodstuff to them or do not open your bag in their knowledge they will come and snatch away your items, no matter what it is. A pair of binocular gives you a plus point for bird watching, especially the eagles perching on the treetop. The Lamas at prayer can be attended in the afternoon in the prayer hall, is the time of meditation. Ritual rites and worship carried out by the Lamas are often seen around.

Natural History Museum
This museum near by Swoyambhu keeps the collections of unique species of butterflies, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, plants and a few varieties of fossils found within the country.

National Museum
In the national museum you will see the artifacts and weapons of medieval Nepal, locally made machine gun and leather canons and other weapons seized from Tibetans in Nepal/Tibet war that started with controversial salt trading 1792.

This is the holiest shrine for Hindus where non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple premises. Many of the ritual performances of Hindus at the western bank of Bagmati River are seen from the eastern bank of the river where everyone is allowed to walk and watch freely. You can openly see and photograph the cremation from the other side of the river.

*Bouddhanath This is one of the largest stupas and one of the centers of the Buddhism of the world. The devotees with prayer wheels in their hand keep walking and praying around the stupa. The shops around the stupa sell the food items that are suitable for Tibetans, in general. Some nice restaurants on the rooftop or on the upper floor serve varieties of dishes in choice of the tourist and the locals.

Patan, in the past known as Lalitpur meaning "the city of the art" has the collection of noted stone, metal and wood works. Krishna Temple built in 1637 is completely made of stone. The museum inside the ancient royal palace has bronze statues and religious items. The Tibetan refugee camp is a place for hand made carpets.

Bhaktapur is the destination that you should not miss while you visit Nepal. It is the historical city where modern buildings do not exist. As soon as you enter into Bhaktapur Durbar square you will see the golden gate and a 17th century palace with 55 windows built by king Ranajit Malla. A five-story pagoda built in 1702 by king Bhupatindra Malla is called as “Nyatpola" temple. It is one of the tallest pagodas of the world. On the opposite of the Nyatpola pagoda is another pagoda style Bhimsen temple. God Bhimsen is revered for its immense strength and success. It is well known for clay pottery. While your tour you will see busy potters at work and women drying finished works in the sun before they are taken to the kiln. During the harvesting season people are busy at threshing, winnowing and drying grains on straw mats right on the walkways.

*Changu Narayan Temple
- Situated in the vicinity of Bhaktapur on the Changu hill, the Changu Narayan temple is the pagoda style temple is the oldest of its kind built sometimes around 325 A.D. The temple holds the oldest Nepalese inscriptions on the stone pillar dated back to 464 A.D. Also, it holds the unique master pieces of art works on stone, metal, wood etc.