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Sightseeing Information - Nepal

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu's most impressive sight, Durbar Square is a colourful blend of temples and palaces. It is also home to Kathmandu's Kumari, or 'living goddess', a young girl believed to be a reincarnation of the goddess Durga. Most of the square’s architecture dates from the 17th and 18th century and the square was declared a Unesco World Heritage Monument in 1979. It is also a market place where you can see local traders selling their wares, see people pay homage to their gods on the way to work and a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by from your roof top restaurant.

Swayambhunath

Known as the 'monkey temple' because of its resident swarm of monkeys, this spectacular Buddhist Stupa lies on a hilltop only 2km from Kathmandu. The views down over Kathmandu and the surrounding valley are superb. This is one of Nepal’s most recognized landmarks with Buddha’s eyes looking down from the gold coloured square on top of a huge white washed dome. It was an important Buddhist centre in the 13th Century, the staircase was added in the 17th century and depicts symbols of Buddha’s life.

Bodhnath

Bodhnath is the centre of Tibetan culture in Nepal. The 36-meter-high stupa of Bodhnath is one of the largest stupas in the world. Bodhnath Stupa was renovated by Licchavi rulers in the eighth century and rebuilt sometime after the Mughal invaders in the 14th century. The mandala design in Bodhnath 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 Bodhnath and a township developed . 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, Thangka art galleries and restaurants surround Bodhnath.

Because of its location and size, it seems much larger than the Swayambunath Stupa, with the same hemi-spherical dome . On top is the square based “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 best 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).

Pashupatinath

Pashupatinath, the site of Nepal most important Hindu temple stands on the bank of the sacred Bagmati River. This Shiva Temple is famous for its two-tiered golden roof and silver doors, and draws devotees from all over Nepal and India. It is the site of funeral pyres and cremations on the river bank ghats and t emples dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surround the temple of Pashupatinath. Behind the temple is the River Bagmati. On the banks of Bagmati are raised platforms used as cremation sites for Hindus. Non-Hindus cannot enter the temple, and no one is allowed to enter the inner sanctum except the Bhattas, the main priests who come from the south of India. The temple starts swarming with devotees around 4am every morning and the top of the hill to the east of the temple is the ideal place for the non Hindu visitor to view the temple, its rich surroundings, and the Bagmati river and ghats where the dead are brought to be cremated.

Patan

Patan is the third ancient city in the Kathmandu Valley. Patan's Durbar Square complex, situated in the centre of the city, houses the residence of the former royal family of Patan. The Square and its surroundings provide very good example of ancient Newari architecture. The palace has three main courtyards the central and the oldest is Mul Chowk. To the west of the complex are a dozen free standing temples of various sizes and styles. Krishna Temple, Bhimsen Temple, the Golden Temple of Hiranya Varna Mahavira and Sundari Chowk mark the architectural excellence of its era. The Sundari Chowk with the sunken bath of Tusha Hiti, contains exquisite woodcarvings, stone, and metal sculpture. Patan Durbar Square also houses a temple of Taleju Bhawani.

Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is located in the center of Bhaktapur. This site is a World Heritage Unesco site and the city is often described by the locals as a living museum. The Square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights some of the finest medieval arts of Nepal. The main items of interest in Bhaktapur Durbar Square are the Lion Gate, the Golden Gate and the statues of kings on stone monoliths. The Golden Gate was erected by King Ranjit Malla as the entrance to the main courtyard of the Fifty-five Windowed Palace.

The Palace of Fifty-five Windows was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in A.D. 1427 and was remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeeth century. The art gallery of Bhaktapur Durbar Square contains ancient paintings belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of various periods. This gallery is open everyday except Tuesday.

Some important monuments to see in this area are:

Changu Narayan Temple

Situated on a beautiful hill 22 kms from Kathmandu and within walking distance of Bhaktapur this temple of Vishnu has origins back to the 4th century and a fifth century stone inscription in the temple proclaims it as one of the oldest shrines of the Kathmandu and the temple is believed to be sixteen hundred years old. The doors have pairs of carvings of animals such as lions, horses, griffins and elephants, with the main western door richly carved in brass, with a brass tympanum above the door. (one of the most beautiful pieces of brass work of medieval Nepal)

A sixth-century stone statue shows the cosmic form of Vishnu. Garuda, half man and half bird, is the steed of Vishnu, and his life-sized statue kneels before the temple. The roof is supported by 24 struts or brackets, which serve as decoration and to support the temple roof. They are beautifully carved and hung at a 45 degree angle. They represent the ten major incarnations of Vishnu and his various manifestations. Though a Vishnu temple the struts also depict Manjushree and Buddha. To the south some of the struts have as many as twenty arms, and carrying various attributions they represent the whole Hindu philosophy. The Buddhist community from the Kathmandu Valley also pay tribute to Changu Narayan as the Haribahana Lokeswar and Kileswar Shiva as Samantabhadra Lokeswar.

The stone inscription (dated 464 A.D.) placed in front of the Changu Narayan temple describes in detail the story of Dharmadeva a King of Nepal who died suddenly, with his young son succeeding him to the throne. The son later after a series of victories in war inscribed his victory on a stone pillar and placed it in front of the Changu Narayan temple. It is written in poetry and in an academic Sanskrit which is something like an encyclopedia of the then society, tradition and culture. It starts with an invocation to the Vishnu of Doladri proving that Changu Narayan or the Doladri Narayan is much older than the date on the in- scription of 464 A.D. The courtyard has many other temples and other figures like that of Garuda from the 5th century; Vishnu mounted on Garuda from the 7th/ 8th centuries plus other multi-headed and multi-armed Vishnu

Pokhara

If Kathmandu is the cultural hub of Nepal, then Pokhara is the hub of adventure. An enchanting city nestled in a tranquil valley, the atmosphere on the shore of Phewa Lake is one of excitement and relaxation and is also the starting point for most treks within the Annapurna regions . Tourists frequent the many bars and restaurants, stroll around the township or take a boat out on Phewa Lake.

Pokhara is a place of remarkable natural beauty. The serenity of Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the fishtailed summit of Machhapuchhre (6,977 m) rising behind it create an ambience of peace and magic. At an elevation lower than Kathmandu, it has a more tropical feel to it, a fact well appreciated by the beautiful diversity of flowers which prosper in its environs. Indeed, the valley surrounding Pokhara is home to thick forests, cascading rivers, emerald lakes, and of course, the world famous views of the Himalaya.

Nagarkot
This town, 32 Km east of Kathmandu, is situated at on altitude of 7,133 ft. Above sea level,. It is a year round holiday Resort. The panorama of the Major peaks the eastern Himalaya, including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest), can be seen from here. Best sunset and sunrise view spot.

Image Gallery

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