Kathmandu Durbar Square | Patan Durbar Square | Bhaktapur Durbar Square | Swayambhu | Boudhanath | Pashupatinath | Changu Narayan | Lumbini | Chitwan National Park | Sagarmatha National Park.
KATHMANDU DURBAR SQUARE
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly uncountable monuments in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. The house of the Living Goddess, the ferocious Kal Bhairab, the red monkey god, and hundreds of erotic carvings are a few examples of the sights at the Square!
The buildings here are the greatest achievements of the Malla dynasty, and they resulted from the great rivalry between the three palaces of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. The Valley was divided among the children of Yaksha Malla. For visitors today and for the Nepalese, it was serendipitous that they and later their offspring’s began an artistic warfare trying to outdo each other in splendid constructions. Kings copied everything their neighbors’ built in an even grander style.
A visitor, who wanders around the square, will see around the temple in the pagoda architectural style, the temple of Goddess Taleju (who played dice with King Jaya Prakash Malla) and an image of Shiva and Parvati sitting together among the many monuments.
The square is teeming with colorful life. Vendors sell vegetables, curious, flutes and other crafts around the Kasthamandap rest house. This rest house is said to have been built with the wood of a single tree and is the source from which the Kathmandu Valley got its name. Nearby are great drums which were beaten to announce royal decrees. All woodcarvings, statues, and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine and Kathmandu Durbar Square is among the most important sights for travelers to see.
PATAN DURBAR SQUARE
The square boasts of many famous sites and unique architectures.
BHAKTAPUR DURBAR SQUARE
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place-struts, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows-all seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony. The main items of interest in Durbar Square are:
SWAYAMBHUNATH STUPA “ THE MONKEY TEMPLE”
The history of the Valley, according to the legends, begins with Swayambhu, or the “the self-existent”. In times uncharted by history, Bodhisattva Manjushri came across a beautiful lake during his travel. He saw a lotus that emitted brilliant light at the lake’s center, so he cut a gorge in a southern hill and drained the waters to worship the lotus. Men settled on the bed of the lake and called it the Kathmandu Valley. From then on, the hilltop of the “self-existent Lord” has been a holy place.
Swayambhu’s light was covered in time because few could bear its intensity. By the thirteenth century, after many layers were added to the original structure that enveloped the Lord’s power, a dome-like shape had been acquired. The stupas central mast was damaged and replaced at that time. Peripheral sources of power were discovered on the hilltop as well and stupas, temples and rest houses were built to honor them. Images of important deities, both Buddhist and Hindu, were also installed. Today, age-old statues and shrines dot the stupa complex.
Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjushri of Saraswati – the goddess of learning. Swayambhu is, perhaps, the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal. The stupa is among the most ancient in this part of the world and its worshippers are diverse from Newar nuns, Tibetan monks and Brahmin priests to lay Buddhists and Hindus. The largest image of the Shakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the stupa. Other monasteries here have huge prayer wheels, fine Buddhist paintings, and special butter lamps which may be lit after presenting monetary offerings.
Swayambhu is a major landmark of the Valley and looks like a beacon below the Nagarjun hill. It provides an excellent view of the Kathmandu Valley. Devotees have climbed the steps on the eastern side for centuries. Statues of the Buddha, mini stupas, monasteries, and monkeys make the climb to Swayambhu – which is fairly steep but worthwhile. But for someone who is physically disabled or is pressed for time, the western road allows you to get off your transport almost at the base of the stupa.
Boudhanath is among the largest stupas in South Asia and it has become the focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty-six meters overhead. The stupa is located on the ancient trade route to Tibet and Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many of them decided to live around Boudhanath.
They established many gompas and the “Little Tibet” of Nepal was born. This “Little Tibet” is still the best place in the Valley to observe Tibetan lifestyle. Monks walk about in maroon robes. Tibetans walk with prayer wheels in their hands and the rituals of prostration are presented to the Buddha as worshippers circumambulate the stupa on their hands and knees, bowing down to their lord. Many people believe that Boudhanath was constructed in the fifth century, but definite proof is lacking.
The stupa is said to entomb the remains of a Kasyap sage who is venerable both to Buddhists and Hindus. One legend has it that a woman requested a valley king for the donation of ground required to build a stupa. She said she needed land covered by one buffalo’s skin and her wish was granted by the King. She cut a buffalo skin into thin strips and circled off a fairly large clearing. The king had no choice but to give her the land.
The Bouddha area is a visual feast. Colorful thangkas, Tibetan jewelry, hand-woven carpets, masks, and khukuri knives are sold in the surrounding stalls. Smaller stupas are located at the base. Gompa monasteries, curio shops, and restaurants surround Boudhanath. Conveniently situated restaurants with roof-top patios provide good food and excellent views of Bouddhanath.
PASHUPATINATH – THE HOLY TEMPLE OF LORD SHIVA
Pashupatinath is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage destination in Nepal. There are linga images of Shiva along with statues, shrines, and temples dedicated to other deities in the complex. A temple dedicated to Shiva existed at this site in AD 879. However, the present temple was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1697. A gold-plated roof, silver doors, and woodcarvings of the finest quality decorate the pagoda construction.
Narayan, or Vishnu, is the preserver of creation to Hindus. His temple near Changu village is often described as the most ancient temple in the Kathmandu Valley. A fifth century stone inscription, the oldest to be discovered in Nepal, is located in the temple compound and it tells of the victorious King Mandev.
The temple now covers sixteen hundred years of Nepalese art history. The temple, built around the third century, is decorated by some of the best samples of stone, wood and metal craft in the valley. On the struts of the two-tiered Changu Narayan Temple, are the ten incarnations in which Narayan destroyed evil-doers.
A sixth-century stone statue shows the cosmic form of Vishnu, while another statue recalls his dwarf incarnation when he crushed the evil king Bali. Vishnu as Narasingha disemboweling a demon is particularly stunning. The western bronze doors sparkle in the evening sunlight, dragons decorate the bells and handsome devas stare from the walls.
• GARUDA, half man and half bird, is the steed of Vishnu and his life-sized statue kneels before the temple.
The favorite of many tourists is the statue of Vishnu sitting astride his steed.
LUMBINI – THE BIRTHPLACE OF LORD BUDDHA
Shakyamuni Buddha was born in Lumbini, in southern Nepal, twenty-five hundred years ago. Lumbini has since been a holy ground for Buddhists all over the world. The restored garden and surroundings of Lumbini have the remains of many of the ancient stupas and monasteries. A large stone pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC bears an inscription about the birth of the Buddha.
An important part of Lumbini is the temple of Maya Devi. It has a stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch. It has been well worn by the strokes of barren women hoping for fertility. To the south of the temple is a pool where Queen Maya Devi is said to have bathed and given her son his first purification bath.
A quiet garden, shaded by the leafy Bo tree (the type of tree under which Buddha received enlightenment) and a newly planted forest nearby lend an air of tranquility which bespeaks Buddha’s teachings.
Lumbini is now being developed under the Master Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust, a non- governmental organization dedicated to the restoration of Lumbini and its development as a pilgrimage site. The plan was completed in 1978 by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange who transformed three square miles of the land into a sacred place of gardens, pools, buildings, and groves. The development included a Monastic Zone, the circular sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka Pillar and Maya Devi temple and Lumbini Village, where visitors find lodges, restaurants, a cultural center, and tourist facilities.
An important archeological site near Lumbini, Kapilvastu evokes the ancient palace where Lord Buddha spent his formative years. Scattered foundations of the palace are abundant and archeologists have by now discovered 13 successive layers of human habitation dating back to the eighth century BC.
Besides its religious and historical significance, Lumbini offers cultural insights into the village life of southern Nepal. If possible, try to coincide your visit with the weekly Monday bazaar when villagers come from miles around to buy grains, spices, pottery, jewelry, saris, and various other items. It may appear as a scene out of the Arabian Nights, with colorful merchandise spread out under the mango trees and the air perfumed with incense. It’s a chance to bargain for souvenirs while witnessing the local life in Lumbini. Wooden ox-carts loaded with hay trundle by. Villagers dry cow-dung for fuel and tea stalls serve sweet milk tea.
Today, Lumbini is beginning to receive travelers’ and archaeologists’ attention after centuries of neglect. Serious preservation work has only just been started in the latter half of this century and Lumbini as a slice of history is worth seeing and worth preserving.
• Royal Nepal Airlines and other airlines fly regularly to Bhairahawa, near Lumbini and bus services are available from Pokhara and Kathmandu.
CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK
Nepal’s first and most famous national park is situated in the Chitwan Doon or the lowlands of the Inner Terai. Covering an area of 932 sq km. the park includes hilly areas of the Siwalik Range covered by deciduous sal forest.
A fifth of the park is made up of the floodplains of the Narayani, Rapti and the Reu Rivers and is covered by dense tall elephant grass interspersed with riverine forests of silk cotton (kapok), acacia and sisam trees.
This ecologically diverse area is the last remaining home in Nepal for more than 300 of the endangered Asian one-horned rhinoceros and harbors one of the largest populations of the elusive and rare Royal Bengal tigers. Besides rhinos and tigers, Chitwan also supports a great variety of flora and fauna.
There are four species of deer, including the spotted chital and other animals like leopards, sloth bears, wild boars, rhesus monkeys, grey langur monkeys, wild dogs, small wild cats, the white stockinged gaur (the world’s largest wild cattle) and many other smaller animals.
The swampy areas and numerous oxbow lakes of Chitwan provide a home for marsh crocodiles. In a stretch of the Narayani River, is found one of the few remaining populations of the rare and endangered fish-only eating gharial or Genetic crocodile. Here also is found one of the world’s four species of freshwater dolphins.
For the ornithologist and the amateur bird-watcher, the park offers excellent possibilities with more than 450 species recorded. Some of the resident specialties’ are several species of woodpeckers, hornbills, Bengal florican and red-headed trogons.
Winter birds such as waterfowl, Brahminy duck, pintails, and bareheaded geese, amongst many other cold weather visitors are drawn by the sanctuary of the park’s rivers. In the summer the forest is alive with nesting migrants such as the fabulous paradise flycatcher, the Indian pitta and parakeets.
SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK
Unique among natural heritage sites worldwide is the Sagarmatha National Park, which includes Mt. Everest (8,848 m) and other high peaks such as Lhotse Shar, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Kangtega, Gyachung Kang, Thamserku, and Kwangde.
Located North-east of Kathmandu, Sagarmatha National Park is 1,148 sq km. in the area and consists of the upper catchment areas of the Dudh Koshi, Bhote Koshi, and the Imja Khola rivers. Much of the park lies above 3,000m. Sagarmatha is rugged, with deep gorges, glaciers and nonnegotiable ice and rock faces.
Locally known as ‘Khumbu’, it is the home of the famous Sherpa people. The Sherpa’s make a living by farming barley and potatoes and graze their yaks in high altitude pastures. Young Sherpas have also made their name in mountaineering and the trekking industry has of late become the community’s economic mainstay.
In 1979 the park was declared a World Heritage Site. Trees such as rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000 meters above which they give way to scrub and alpine plants. In late spring and summer, the hillsides around the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Thyangboche and Thame are a riot of colors with several species of rhododendron in bloom.
Wildlife’s most likely to be seen in Sagarmatha are the Himalaya that, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel and occasionally jackals. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard.
Birds commonly seen are Impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, snow cock, snow pigeon, Red-billed, yellow-billed chough, Himalayan griffin vulture and lammergeier.
Our representative will be receiving you at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu and then you’ll be transferred to the hotel where you can rest yourself.
We will commence the UNESCO CULTURAL HERITAGE TOUR today in Kathmandu Valley which includes:
Swoyambhunath: A journey up to this monumental stupa with glittering golden spires provides the travelers with a picturesque view of the Kathmandu Valley and it is a must visit for those who wish to dive in the knowledge of Buddhism. The word Swoyambhunath means self-existent one and history dictates that it was made in the 13th century. According to legend, Swoyambhu was born from a lotus flower that bloomed in the middle of a lake that once spread across the Kathmandu Valley.
The stupa rests atop a hill and the steep stairs leading to it can be a strenuous task but fear not there is an alternative easy path too. En route, know the meaning behind its famed nickname, ‘The Monkey Temple’ as you escape the mischief of monkeys. At Swoyambhu, immerse yourself in the devotion of God by spinning the prayer wheels, with a backdrop of religious prayer ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ and the beautiful fragrance of incense.
Boudhanath: The Boudhanath Stupa takes its place among the largest stupas in South Asia. The gigantic white mound spreads 36 meters, and on top of it, there\'s a square tower consisting of the holy Buddha eyes facing all four directions. Prayer flags tied to the stupa flutter in the wind carrying the hopes of people to heaven. There are many legends as to the origin of the stupa, most famous one being that it was constructed on the 14th century while other accounts tell that it was built as a tomb for a Kasyap Sage.
As Tibetans inhabited the area in the 1950s, you can see the remains of Tibetan culture to this day too and enquire with them to get in-depth knowledge about their culture. Turn the prayer wheels and circle the stupa as you say your prayers amidst the crowd and pleasant yet strong fragrance of incense. This exciting tour shows you Thangkas and souvenirs for your friends.
Pashupatinath: One of the most revered Hindu pilgrimages in the world is ‘Pashupatinath.’ A small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built here in 879 AD, but the temple stood in its current format 1697 AD when King BhupatindraMalla made it. This temple is an example of architectural magnificence as the gold-plated roof, silver roofs and woodcarvings of the highest caliber soothe and simultaneously amaze you. The temple comprises of Linga images of Lord Shiva along with numerous statues and shrines. A walk in this temple shows you the true meaning of life as in the yards you’ll see young boys doing ‘Bratabandha’ which starts their journey to adulthood and on the other hand you’ll witness the deceased being cremated in the banks of the holy river Bagmati, indicating that life is short. Talk with the sages residing there and expand your knowledge on Hinduism.
Patan City: Patan houses the famous Patan Durbar Square which was once the abode of the kings of Patan. The Square is a perfect example of Newari architecture at its prime and shows that the Mallarulers were the masters of the art. The square is home to Krishna Mandir, Bhimsen Temple, and the Golden Temple.
Further tour the SundariChowk to learn about the fascinating samples of woodcarvings, stones. There you’ll see a massive stone platform, made for the extremely religious king who was said to endure great hardships to attend true peace. Enjoy the traditional Newari dishes in the restaurants there and watch as the urban life passes.
You have the option of ending your trip or extending it. If you wish to conclude, our representative will drop you off at the Tribhuwan International Airport.
Rajan helped us organize an awesome tour and trek in Kathmandu valley! During our city tour, our guide Assok was extremely knowledgeable about all of the different World Heritage Sites that we visited that included the Monkey Temple, Pashupatinah, Boudhanath and Patan Durbar Square. Our trek guide Anjur was equally wonderful and we had a great trek through Kathmandu Valley. Trekking through the country side we enjoyed good conversation, beautiful views and a glimpse into the lives of people who lived and worked around us. The Kathmandu Valley Rim Trek was a nice route, even during monsoon season. It was a great mix of moderate terrain (might be challenging for smaller children), great views, and countryside exploration. Earthbound Expeditions made our all of our activities happen so easily, and the communication was excellent as we made our plans. Rajan was so flexible with adjusting our experience around our schedule in Nepal. We could not have asked for a better experience with Earthbound Expeditions and highly recommend using this organization for any of your travel!
Thamel Eco Resort is an eco-friendly boutique hotel with a beautiful quiet courtyard garden away from the noise and traffic of Kathmandu. We are an authentically styled Nepalese hotel delivering international standards. We maintain 43 rooms including suites, family rooms, deluxe and standards rooms to meet the needs of any traveler. Our multi-cuisine restaurant, bar, and Yoga hall are on site to make your stay complete.
Renown for our friendliness and hospitality, we offer affordable prices in a convenient location in the heart of the tourist district of Thamel. You are walking distance to countless restaurants, shops, and the entertainment of Thamel. Just a short walk from Kathmandu Durbar Square, King’s Palace Museum, and Swayambhunath – the most revered Buddhist stupa in Nepal, we provide easy access to the sights of the City.
Enjoy complimentary wireless internet access, safe drinking water (we maintain eco-friendly re-fill stations), and tea/coffee. Thamel Eco Resort makes for an excellent to stay in Kathmandu.
We are only 8 km from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and don’t miss the panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding hills. We are here to make your stay in Nepal excellent.http://www.thamelecoresort.com/ +977 1 4257505
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Important Notes : Cost based on simple lodge per person basis. Luxury lodge/resort can be upgraded at extra cost. There is every day departure for this trip all year around.