The Kathmandu Valley consists of three main cities of great historic and cultural interest Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon). Situated at an altitude of 1336 meter above the sea level, the Kathmandu Valley covers an area of 218 sq. miles. The major tourist attractions in Kathmandu include:
Machchhendranath Temple: The temple of Sweta Machchhendranath is situated at Machchhendra Bahal between Indra Chowk and Asan. It is a pagoda of considerable artistic beauty. Also called as Janmadyo or Machchhendra the deity.
Akash Bhairav Temple: A three-storey temple in the main market avenue, called Indra Chowk, the image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra – the God of Rain.
Hanumandhoka (Durbar Square) : It is the historic seat of royalty. The durbar square, with its old temples and places, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Interesting things to see here are; Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A. D. Kal Bhairav, the God of destruction, Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chok, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Big Drum and, the Jagannath Temple. On the right-hand corner, larger wooden latticescreen hides an enormous gilded face of Sweta Bhairav. The screen is removed only during the Indra Jatra festival.
There are also Numismatic Museum and Tribhuvan Museum inside the Hanuman Dhoka Palace building. Photography is prohibited inside the museums. Both the museums remain. Closed on Tuesdays and government holidays.
Temple of Kumari (Kumari Ghar): The temple or the residence of Living goddess, Kumari, is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The building has profusely carved wooden blaconies and window screens. The Kumari- the living Goddess, acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window. Photography is prohibited.
Kasthamandap : Located near the temple of Kumari, it is said to have been built by King Laxmi Narsingha Malla in the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. The city of Kathmandu derives its name from this temple.
Ashok Vinayak : The small but a very important temple of Ashok Vinayak is situated behind the Kasthamandap -also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh.
Jaishi Dewal : Five minutes from Kasthmandap the Shiva Temple of Jaishi Dewal is famous for its erotic carvings. It is still one of the main routes of the chariot festival of Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra and other festivals.
Indrachowk: Indrachowk, a square, the courtyard of Indra named after an ancient Hindu deity is within walking distance from Durbar Square. Akash Bhairab temple, a three- story temple lies at Indrachowk the main market avenue of the Kathmandu city. The image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside the temple for a week during Indrajatra, the festival of Indra or the God of Rain.
Freak Street: Locally known as Jhhonchen Tole, the once famous “Freak Street” is well known to all low budget tourists. In seventies this area was full of small hotels, lodges, restaurants, taverns as well as shops that “buy and sell anything”. But all this is now a matter of the past as the place has been dethroned by another part of the city called Thamel
Tundikhel : A huge greenfield, flanks one entire side of the old city Tundikhei. Some of the important landmarks of Kathmandu valley are located in the periphery of this area. At the south western end of Tundikhel is a 59.29m. Tower built by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832 A.D. known as Dharahara (or Bhimsen Stambha). Sundhara-fountains with golden waterspouts is situated at the foot of this great tower also belonging to the same period.
Martyr’s Memorial (Sahid) Gate : It is located between Bhimsen Stambha and Bhadrakali temple. The memorial arch contains the statue of the late King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah and the busts of four martyrs.
Asan: Asan is one of the busiest squares in Kathmandu and has six roads radiating from it. The three storey high pagoda styled Annapurna (goddess of food grains) temple is situated at Asan. Another two storey temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. All kind of household goods available in this traditional marketplace.
Dharahara: Also known as Bhimsen Stambha (Tower), Dharahara is a 50.5 meter tower built by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832. Situated near the General Post Office, the tower is one of Kathmandu’s best-known monuments. From the top of the tower, one has a panoramic view of the whole Kathmandu Valley. It is not open for the public.
Bhadrakali Temple : As the eastern edge of the Tundikhel, near Shahid Gate stands the temple of Goddess Bhadrakali. This temple is also known as Lumarhi Temple and is one of the main “Shakta” temples of Kathmandu city.
Singha Durbar : A grand imposing palace built on the neo-classical style. Singha Durbar was the private residence of Rana Prime Ministers. Now it is the Secretariat of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal.
Kaisar Libreary : Located inside the premises of Ministry of Education, Kaisar library is a great centre of rare and valuable books and manuscripts. It is open for the public except Saturdays and other government holidays.
Palace: This is the present Palace. At the south there is the famous historic water-spout of Narayanhity from which the Palace derives its name. Special permission has to be obtained to go inside the Palace compound.
Thamel: Thamel area has recently emerged as the most popular tourist area of Kathmandu. Thamel is a 15 to 20 minute walk from the center of Kathmandu. Thamel has clean narrow streets full of mushrooming lodges, hotels for budget travellers. Restaurants, bars and other tourists oriented shops can be seen bustling with activities.
Budhanilkantha : About eight kilometers north of Kathmandu, at the base of Sivapuri hill is a remarkable colossal statue of Lord Vishnu, reclining of the bed of snakes. This is one of the masterpieces of stone sculptures of Lichchhavi period. This fifth century statue is in the middle of a small pond and seems to float in water.
Balaju Water Garden : Situated about five kilometers North-west of Kathmandu, Balaju Garden features fountains with 22 crocodile headed water spout dating from the mid eighteenth century. There is also a swimming pool inside the park.
Swayambhunath : This is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist Chaityas. It is said to be 2000 years old. Painted on the four-sides of the spire bases are the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. It is three kilometres west of Kathmandu city and is situated on a hillock about 77m. above the level of the Kathmandu Valley.
National Museum : Two and half kilometers west of Kathmandu, the National Museum has a splendid collection of weapons, artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. Its archaeological and historical displays are worth seeing. The museum is open everyday except Tuesday and government holidays.
Natural History Museum : Situated three kilometers west of Kathmandu city behind the famous Swayambhunath hillock this museum has a unique collection of butterflies, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, plants and a variety of fossils collected within the country. Photography inside the museum is prohibited
Pashupatinath Temple : Situated five kilometers east of Kathmandu, the temple of lord Shiva- Pashupatinath with two tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb architecture. Visitors can clearly seen the temple and the activities performed in the temple premises from the eastern bank of the Bagmati river.
Guheswari Temple : Near Pashupatinath is located another historic and holy temple of Guheswari. Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple courtyard.
Chabahil : The lovely Stupa of Chabahil is believed to have been built by Charumati, the daughter of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, in the third century B.C. There are ancient statues around the Stupa.
Chandra Vinayak : The temple of Chandra Vinayak is situated about 200m. north of Chabahil Stupa. This double tiered brass roofed temple houses a tiny image of Lord Ganesh, the elephant -headed god.
Bouddhnath : The Stupa of Bouddhnath lies eight kilometers east of Kathmandu. This colossal and ancient Stupa is one of the biggest in the world.
Gokarna : This lovely Royal Game Sanctuary, also known as Gokarna Safari Park, lies about ten kilometers north-east of Kathmandu. Many wild animals such as spotted deer can be viewed in the sanctuary from an elephant back. On the northern side of Gokarna, is a pagoda of Gokarneshwor Mahadev.
Sankhu : It is a typical Newari town, with many fine old buildings and temples. Beyond the village, up a long flight of stone stairs, is Bajra Jogini, a historical temple with a beautiful view of the local area.
Sundarijal : It is famous for its scenic beauty.There are magnificent waterfalls, cataracts and rock formations. It is an ideal place for picnic requiring a short walk after the motorable road.
Kirtipur : It is a small town, eight kilometers south-west of Kathmandu on the top of a hill. Tribhuvan University is located at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to offer like old shrines and temples, old houses, the people typically dressed in old traditional costumes, people working on ancient loom etc.
Chobhar : Situated nine kilometers South-west of Kathmandu, this place is famous for its gorge. All the water of the valley drain through it. There is a small but pictuesque temple of Adinath on the top of a hill. From this top one can have a panoramic view of snow capped mountain peaks.
Shekha Narayan : Situated between Chobhar and Dakshinkali the temple of Shekha Narayan represents one of the four Narayans of the Kathmandu Valley. The other three Narayans are Changu Narayan of Bhaktapur, Visankhu Narayan of Patan and Ichangu Narayan of Kathmandu.
Dakshinkali : The temple of Dakshinkali is situated about two kilometers south of Shekha Narayan. Dakshinkali is regarded as one of most important Hindu goddesses. Pilgrims visit this temple to offer their prayer and animal sacrifices to the goddess. Besides, this place has been developed as a popular picnic spot.
Lalitpur (Patan) : This ancient city of Patan also Known as Lalitpur or the city of fine arts is about five kilometers southeast of Kathmandu. The city is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments. The major tourist attractions of Patan are:
Durbar Square : Patan Durbar square, situated in the heart of the city consitutes the focus of visitor’s attraction. The square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines, noted for their exquisite carvings. The Patan Durbar square consists of three main chowks or courtyards, the central Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. The Sundari Chowk holds in its centre a masterpiece of stone architecture, the Royal bath called Tushahity.
Krishna Mandir : Built in the seventeenth century, the temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in the palace complex of Patan. It is supposed to be the first specimen of Shikhara style architecture in Nepal. It is the only temple in Nepal having 21 spires and is completely made of stone.
Mahaboudha : The temple of Mahabouddha is a masterpiece of terra-cotta. Like the Krishna Mandir, it reveals an artistic tradition which evolved outside of Nepal and shows how native Nepalese craftsmen have been able to do justice to an unfamiliar art form. This temple was built by Abhaya Raj, a priest of Patan and is sometimes referred to as the temple of a million Buddhas because every single brick bears a small image of Buddha. There is an astonishing total of nine thousand bricks. It was levelled to the ground in the great earthquake of 1933 but was rebuilt exactly to the original specifications, proving that the templecraft is still one of the living arts of Nepal.
Hiranya Verna Mahavihar : Located inside kwabadehal, this three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwor (Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century by king Bhaskar Verma. Inside the upper storey of the pagoda, are the golden image of Lord Buddha and a large prayer wheel.
The Tibetan Refugee Camp: An attraction of a different kind is the Tibetan Camp on the outskirts of Patan. The small Tibetan population living here has set up a number of shrines and stupas as well as several souvenir shops offering authentic Tibetan handicrafts such as prayer wheels of wood, ivory, silver or bronze, long temple horns made of beaten copper, belt buckles, wooden bowls and jewellery. In this area, the Tibetans can be seen weaving carpets by hand.
Kumbheshwor : This fine tiered temple of Lord Shiva was built during the reign of King Jayasthiti Malla. A fair is held here on the Janai Poornima day in August.
Jagatnarayan Temple : The Jagat Narayan temple is a tall shikhara-style temple consecrated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is built of red bricks on the bank of the Bagmati at Sankhamul and enshrines many stone images. The fine metal statue of Garuda placed on a stone monolith is quite eye-catching and is accompanied by similarly placed images of Ganesh and Hanuman
Rudra Varna Mahavihar : This unique Buddhist monastery contains fine and amazing collection of images and statues in metal, stone and wood. It is believed that the Kings in the ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by the devotees can be seen here even today.
The Ashokan Stupas : There are four ancient stupas popularly believed to have been built in 250 B.C. by Emperor Ashoka at the four corners of Patan. The four stupas are situated in Pulchowk, Lagankhel, Ebahi and in Teta (way to Sano Gaon) respectively. These stupas give evidence to the city’s ancient religious importance.
Acchheswor Mahavihar : It was established towards the beginning of the seventeenth century by one Acchheshwor by building a temple to house an idol of Lord Buddha. The Mahavihar has recently been reconstructed. Situated behind the Ashokan Stupa at Pulchowk, the Mahavihar commands a beautiful view of The Kathmandu Valley.
Temple of Machhendranath and Minnath : The pagoda of Red Machhendranath built in 1408 A.D. is situated in Tabahal. For six months the deity is taken to its other shrine in Bungmati. The temple of Minnath is situated in Tangal on the way to Tabahal.
The Zoo : Situated at Jawalakhel, the zoo has many animals,birds and reptiles in its collections mostly representing the Himalayan fauna. There is a beautiful pond built in 17th A. D.
Patan Industrial Estate : Patan Industrial Estate is situated at Lagankhel in Lalitpur (Patan) near Sat Dobato. This Industrial Estate is well known for Nepali handicrafts such as wood carvings, metal crafts, carpets and thangka paintings. For The convenience of The tourists there is a shopping arcade where all the handicraft products of the Estate are exhibited in the shopping arcade.
Bajra Barahi : Situated in a small woodland park, it is about ten kilometers south of Patan near the village of Chapagaon. A visit to Tika Bhairav and Lele from here is worthwhile.
Godavari : Situated at the foothills of Phulchowki, Royal Botanical Garden has a splendid natural beauty. The road from Patan city runs to Godavari to The soutlh-east, passing through the small, old towns of Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Badegaun. It is the only in Nepal, is open daily including Saturdays and government holidays.
Phulchowki : Located around ten kilometers southeast of Patan, this mountain, 2758 m. high, is a good spot for hiking. A Buddhist shrine is situated on the top of the hill which can be reached through a jeep able road.
Situated at an altitudue of 1,401 m. Bhaktapur covers an area of 4 square miles. Shaped like a conch-shell. Bhaktapur means the city of devotees. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. The city lies about 14 kilometres East of Kathmandu and can be reached by public transport and by trolley buses. The major sightseeing places in Bhaktapur include:
Durbar Square: The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like the Lion Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the Picture Gallery, the Golden Gate, the Palace of 55 windows, the Batsala temple and the Bell of barking dogs, etc. The statue of the King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace. Of the many statues available in Nepal this is considered to be the most magnificent.
The National Art Gallery : Contains ancient and medieval paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools depicting Tantrism of various periods and descriptions.
The Golden Gate : is the entrance to the main countyard of the Palace of 55 windows. Built King Ranjit Malla, the Gate is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world. This gate is embellished with deities and monsters of marvellous intricacy.
The Palace of 55 Windows : was built in the seventeenth century by King Bhupatindra Malla. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 windows. This balcony is a masterpieace of wood carving.
The Stone Temple of Batsala Devi : which is also located in the Durbar square is full of intricate carvings. This temple also sets a beautiful example of Shikhara style of architecture in Nepal. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple which is also known as the “bell of barking dogs”. This colossal bell, placed in 1737 A.D. was used to sound curfew during that time.
Nyatapola Temple : This five-storey pagoda was built in 1702 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. It stands on a five-terraced platform. On each of the terraces squat a pair of figures; two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singini the tiger and the lion goddesses. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structureand subtle workmanship.
Dattatraya Temple : Built in 1427 A.D. this temple is said to have been built from trunk of a single tree. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows.
Surya Vinayak : Situated in a beautiful surrounding of Bhadgaon, the temple of Ganesh is placed in a Sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. It is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes.
Changu Narayan : Situated at the end of a long ridge which runs well into the Valley, it is said to have been built by King Hari Dutta in 323 A.D. and said to be the oldest temple in the Valley.
Nagarkot : Nagarkot is a popular tourist Place of Nepal for sunrise and sunset views. It is situated 32 km. east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,175 m. above the sea level. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Nepal Himalayas including Mt. Everest can be seen from here.
Siddha Pokhari: This is a big rectangular water pond located near the main city gate of Bhaktapur. It was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in the early fifteenth century and is associated with a number of myths. From this spot a wide range of snowy peaks is visible on clear days.
Batsala Temple: The stone temple of Batsala Devi has many intricate carvings. It is most famous for its bronze bell, known to local residents as ‘the bell of barking dogs’ as when it is rung, all dogs in the vicinity begin barking and howling ! The colossal bell was hung by King Ranjit Malla in A. D. 1737 and was used to sound the daily curfew. It is nowadays rung every morning when goddess Taleju is worshipped.
Bhairav Nath Temple: This is another pagoda style temple dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the dreadful aspect of Shiva. It stands a short distance away from the temple of Nyatapola and was originally constructed by King Jagat Jyoti Malla on a modest scale. It was later remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla, a zealous lover of the arts, into what is now a three-storey temple.
Thimi: Thimi lies about 10 km east of Kathmandu near Bhaktapur. It is famous for pottery, making of masks and as a vegetable growing area for Kathmandu so that this place is also known as kitchen garden of Kathmanduites. The main deity in the town is Goddess Balkumari. It attracts tourists by its enchanting culture of the farmer community.