Takes Four days to complete all stated Highlights.
Private day tours to explore through medieval memory lane of Nepalese heritage city and sites; decorated attraction of a sublimely beautiful country, cupboard by lofty mountain crests and illustrious architectural setting. Kathmandu is a valley and a city by itself separated by the Bagmati River with Patan city and the Manohara River with Bhaktapur city. The entire valley is divided into three queen cities as World Heritage sites. These are distinctive sites of interest, rich with culture and history.
The unique syncretism among queen cities are rare findings and these monuments survives today with help from preservation projects, making their protection, repair and maintenance as “living monuments” all the more compelling. Kathmandu Valley, further boasts a concentration of monuments and country side townships almost unmatched in the world
These sites can be explored as full or a half day city tours in Nepal. However, please note internal traffic congestion is a major concern and should commence each tour early possible. Consider after breakfast 07.30 am, say about three hours for a short guided city tour and about eight for a whole day including drive time and Lunch break in between.
NOTE: Much of the UNESCO HERITAGE sites are under renovation, was hugely damaged by the Earthquake of 25th April 2015. But there’s enough to occupy interest
Kathmandu old city, Kathmandu Durbar Square or the epicenter of 60’s hippy era, is the residing place of the only officially Living Goddess in the world. The square is a groovy setting of old and new richly carved architectural features of temples, shrines, statues, palaces and courtyards with curving roofs built during 12th and 18th centuries by ancient kings of Nepal. Stone lions guard the gates to the Old Royal Palace with a number of courtyards. It features a 17th-century stone inscription written in 15 languages against its setting in the walls.
On other side of the square, Kasthamandap is an open pavilion topped by a pyramidal tower created from the wood of a single tree. It purportedly the Valley’s longest-existing building. Likewise, Kathmandu derives its description because of this historical temple.
Akash Bhairab Temple also referred to as the Blue Bhairab, it’s a three-storeyed temple in the principal market called Indra Chowk. The divine image of the Akash Bhairab is displayed outside for a week-long period during the great festival of Indra Jatra.
Temple of Kumari is the holy quadrangle with a Buddhist stupa at the center form the residential quarters of the Chaste Virgin Goddess Kumari.
Swayambhunath Stupa is a 5th century golden spire, symbols the source of Kathmandu valley’s mythical beginning. It is nestled on a hilltop with foremost sight of vivid prayer flags festooned and fluttering against the wind. These sight luxuriate the surroundings by offering extraordinary views over the valley. Its dazzling white hemispherical mound represents a road to nirvana symbolized by an umbrella on top.
The temple complex lively strewn with shrines and statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities differentiate the country’s exclusive religious synchronization. It’s particularly striking in early evening when the city is under soft glow of light.
Pashupatinath Nath Temple, home of the Lord of the animals illustrate symbol of faith. This richly ornamented monument existed back in 400 A.D. Moreover, known as temple of Living Beings has a cremation site western bank of the holy river Bagmati. This is the holiest cremation ground (burning Ghats) of Nepal and most distinctive attraction for tourists. The setting of this site dedicated to Shiva signifies supremacy of Nepali architecture and craftsmanship.
Note: Normally about an hour (besides driving time) is more than sufficient here for a guided city excursion. It can be extended over a short hike tour (1/2 an hour) through Slesmantak Jungle into Guheshwori Temple. The hike is Rejuvenating and encouraging for anyone, even seniors and kids.
Guheshwori is known a foundation of strength for all life form mainly being consort of Lord Shiva. It was then built during ruling period of King Pratap Malla in 1654 A.D. It’s gorgeously attractive with golden doors and windows framed by devotees in the latter periods. However, among many spiritual masterpiece of structural design it’s of a different kind.
Boudhanath Stupa was built during Licchavi period (King Śivadeva) is the largest spherical Stupa of Asia and centre of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Visual representation of its strong influences with the sight of Monks walking about in maroon robes and spinning prayer wheels in their hands while following the rituals of prostration by walking clockwise around the Stupa is instant.
History reveal there was a severe drought at the time of constructing this holiest Buddhist site in Kathmandu Nepal. So dew was alternately collected to mix mortars for its construction and is also called Khasti (dew drop). Kassapa Buddha’s remains are entombed in this marvelous structure withstanding the viciousness of Nature.
The Stupa is originally centered in once main trading path between Nepal and Tibet. Since it was convenient for movement between two countries, the nineteen fifties saw dramatic influxes of Tibetan refugees around its site due to Chinese invasion of Tibet. Despite political turn around with China most of refugees stayed back and urbanized the vicinity into “Mini Tibet” modern-day perfection, why it is famous.
One of the three royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley, Patan officially called Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City has a rich cultural heritage known for its fine crafts, clear at first sight with its elaborated architecture, stone carvings, and metal statues found all over the city. A center of both Buddhist and Hindu culture, Patan is home to more than 1,200 monuments. UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979
Highlights of Patan City:
Patan Durbar has many famous sites and unique architectures. Bhimsen temple, Hiranya Varna Mahabhiharare are just a few among the temples offering you an ecstasy of paintings, wood and metal carvings. One of the most stunning is the Krishna Mandir, a single stone temple built-in the 16th century.
Patan Museum displays traditional sacred art of Nepal in an illustrious architectural setting. Its home is an old residential court of Patan Darbar, one of the royal palaces of the former Malla kings of the Kathmandu Valley.
The museum’s exhibits cover a long-span of Nepal’s cultural history and some rare objects are among its treasures. Their meaning and context within the living traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism are well explained. Most of the objects are cast bronzes and gilt copper reposes work, traditional crafts for which Patan is famous.
The Mahabaudha temple is dedicated to Buddha. It was built by Pandit Abhaya Raj, a Buddhist architect, and more interesting thing about the temple is, every single brick has Buddha engraved in it. There are nearly one thousand bricks of Buddha Pictures in the temple!
Rudra Varna Mahavihar is a Buddhist monastery containing a collection of images and statues in stone, wood and metal and also the treasures offered by king’s devotees. In ancient times, Nepal’s kings were crowned in this monastery.
Hiranya Varna Mahavihar this three storey golden pagoda is located about 650 feet from the Patan Durbar Suare. It has the images of Lord Buddha and large prayer wheels. The pagoda is also known as Kwa Bahal or Suwarna Mahavihar or Golden temple.
Kumbheshowr is a five storied temple in Patan portraying fine arts. An annual festival is held here once every year.
The Jagat Narayan temple of Lord Vishnu made of red bricks. It has fine images of stone and an artistic metal statue of Garuda on a stone pillar.
Ashoka Stupa known to have been built in 250 BC by Emperor Ashoka
Once the capital of Nepal during the great Malla dynasty until the second half of 15th century, Bhaktapur preserves power points of hidden prosperity. History source of Bhaktapur is barely traceable but it could be anywhere from the third century. Bhadgaon was the medieval name of this town lost back in time and is rich in culture, temples, wood, metal, stone artwork mainly pottery.
Bhaktapur Durbar square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the city as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. Metal carved statue of the kings poised on top of stone pillars, divine beings and protectors looking out from their refuge, the wood carvings in every place-strut, lintels, uprights, tympanum, gateways and windows all give the impression of a live recital.
The golden gate is the entrance to the main courtyard of the Palace of 55 windows, and the gate is mainly regarded as the world’s most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind.
Nyatapol Temple is 30 meters tall, and is the tallest temple in the valley. It was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1708 AD. Each of its five terraces holds a pair of figures, starting from bottom wrestlers, elephant, lion, griffins and goddesses.
The Bhairavnath Temple built as a one-story pagoda during the reign of King Jagat Jyoti Malla, later changed into a three-storey temple in 1718 A.D by King Bhupatindra Malla, this temple now stands for its artistic grandeur. The Bhairavnath temple is dedicated to Lord Bhairav – the god of Terror.
Dattatraya Temple built-in 1427 AD, the temple is believed to be built from a single tree. A Monastery having exquisitely carved peacock windows is near the temple.
Changu Narayan is the biggest name among the Narayans deity. Perched on the end of a ridge extending from Nagarkot, it’s striking and scenically beautiful setting adds extra appeal to this important shrine. The temple is actually believed being constructed in the 4th century and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A stone slab discovered in the temple area dates back to the 5th century, and is the oldest such stone inscription discovered in Nepal.
The temple was constantly destroyed by fire and earthquake but was on each occasion rebuilt larger and more richly decorated than before (it will probably have more striking exposure after latest renovation), classically proportioned pagoda, dating from 1702, is a masterpiece. It is one of seven structures cited by UNESCO as demonstrating the historic and artistic achievements that make the Kathmandu Valley a museum World Heritage Site.
Other Must See Places inside Kathmandu Valley:
Khokana and Bungamati
Khokana and Bungamati are unique village model of medieval settlement at the lap of Chandragiri Hills beside the holy Bagmati River. They are small Newari village where tradition still plays significant part in the life of its inhabitants. The village has its own history and has retained its tradition and culture despite the onslaught of development in its vicinity.
It is a living museum that reminds of medieval times. The township appears to have stuck in a time warp still vibrantly displaying medieval culture that once thrived in the valley. Since the village is largely inhabited by continuing lineage of same indigenous groups, culture and tradition has basically remained intact. The ambiance provides stunning traditional perfection.
Dakshinkali temple is about an hour’s drive from the bustles of Kathmandu directly toward the south of the valley deriving its name (Dakshin) in Nepali South and Kali the (fearsome Goddess). The site where it stands is an interesting area when one can term it as a miniature valley barely about a hundred square meters.
This temple of wishes has been a big tourist attraction mainly for the sacrifices of male birds and animals that takes place every Tuesday and Saturday. A road trip to Dakshinkali is rewarding in every step of the journey, one gets to see the Chovar gorge the only water outlet of the valley with a historical perception, Manjushree representing wisdom” and who carries a flaming sword in his right hand cut through this hill with a single strike of his sword to let water out from Kathmandu valley.
Pharping village a center for spiritual practice dates back to Licchavi period of second century. Asura Cave in Pharping is one of the most sacred “power places” in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Here you can visit the Padmasambhava Monastery where the 8th century Tantric sage, achieved enlightenment
Shesh Narayan Phannathingu temple
On the way towards Pharping lies another spiritual historically motivated shrine, it is called the Shesh Narayan Phannathingu temple. According to early belief this deity of Narayan established sometime during the 5th century is one among the four Narayan temples that marks the four corners of the Kathmandu valley. The shrine of Vishnu perplexed with the cosmic serpent, SeshNag or Ananta is clearly seen resting perched over two pools of fresh water. The other three Narayan within the valley are Ichangu, Bishangkhu and Changu Narayan.
The other point of interest before we arrive back to the hotel is the medieval town of Kirtipur center of Newar culture. The history of the city dates from 1099 AD
Namo Buddha Monastry
Namo Buddha the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site, referred as one of the holiest in the world. The site is far on a hilltop about one and a half to two hour’s drive from Kathmandu. It is known as the place where the Buddha in an earlier life as a prince, out of great compassion for the starving tigress and her cubs, selflessly offered his body to them as their food. There is a cave with statues of the prince, the tigress and the cubs on this site. Namo Buddha is otherwise known by the Tibetans as ‘Takmo Lu Jin’, meaning ‘Tigress Body Generosity’.
Panauti a historical religious village subsisting in culture and primeval tradition thirty two kilometers from Kathmandu city. One of the main feature reflecting primeval traditions is Makar Mela once in twelve year fair that lasts a month. Panauti Jatra is the local festival held every year with traditional glittering of carnival lasting three days.
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