Ancient Kathmandu Valley
The first thing to think about, before visiting any place is the worth of cost and time spent over that place. While everyone of us have our own eye of visit, ranging from doses of cuisine to archaeological, religious or cultural taste, Kathmandu ensembles all perfectly. Kathmandu Valley bears the ancient civilization of Asia, with hundreds of remarkable monuments and several pilgrimage sites for both Hindus and Buddhists. This economic hub of Nepal accommodates seven of World Heritage Sites. History says that the Kathmandu valley may have been inhabitated as early as 300 BCE.
Must visit notable sites in Kathmandu Valley
1. Pashupatinath Temple
Enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979 as Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Property, Pashupatinath temple is a sacred Hindu temple, serving to holy adobe of lord Shiva. Withing the precincts of the temple lies collection of other from 17th century, along the bank of the Bagmati River. The temples carry archaeological, historical, cultural and religious values. “The earliest evidence of the temple’s existence dates back to 400 A.D. The current main temple of Pashupatinath complex was built in the end of the 17th century to replace the previous one, destroyed by termites.”- Nepal Tourism Board. Centuries old Hindu rituals are still practiced in their astonishing initial form here with the unique spirit of Hindu traditions of life and death. One of the major festivals celebrated annually around March at Pashupatinath temple is Maha Shivaratri which attracts thousands of nationwide devotees as well as from India.
An excellent 2–3 kms walk between Kathmandu Durbar Square and Thamel leads to a lively century old market square highlighting the local bazaar. Ason is one of the historic locations in the valley sought after its architecture and charming bazaar ambience. It is famed for fresh vegetables, spices & herbs, traditional utensils & metalwares , clothing and is basically a busy market which may often test ones bargaining skills. Annapurna temple presides over Ason; a three-storied temple from second half of 19th century, dedicated to the goddess of abundance, and the popularity of Ason was gained more when this temple was constructed during Malla era. Surrounded by several other popular temples and shrines, the place welcomes all with no entrance fee.
3. Narayanhiti Palace Museum
If historical royal grandeur wonders you, Narayanhiti Palace Museum is a must visit place in the valley.This public museum was home to the country’s monarchs; now it’s walls only hold a gruesome history. After the massacre of the then Royal family in 2001 and after the Shah monarchy ended in 2008, the gates to the palace opened to the public in 2009. The place exhibits royal throne, banquet halls, royal bedrooms and huge paintings. Other horrid royal treats likes marking of massacred location and bullet holes on walls shrouds in controversy and mystery. The 38 hectares widespread Narayanhiti Palace museum is surrounded by gardens, lawns and old trees.The museum entry fee is NRs 100 for Nepali, NRs 250 for SAARC nationals and Chinese, and NRs 500 for other foreign visitors.
One of the oldest Buddhist monuments of the valley, Swayambhu ,also called a Monkey Temple, is UNESCO World Heritage site and an iconography for both Buddhist and Hindu. The gleaming white dome soaring atop a hill is capped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of lord Buddha overlooking the Kathmandu valley in all the directions. The stupa consists of several artifacts, variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. Devotees are seen making a ritual circumnavigating of the base of the hill, spinning the prayer wheels.
Wikipedia writes “ The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline; it is one of the largest stupas in the world.” Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1979 and along with Swayambhu, it is another popular tourist sites in northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu. The stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest stupas in Nepal. The place observes visitor wandering around the street festooned with colourful prayer flags. Monks in maroon robes and other Buddhists circumnavigate clockwise around the stupa, spinning prayer wheels as a daily ritual,while repeating the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. Mornings and evenings are warmed by stocks of butter lamps and the environment fills up with aromatic incense .There are plenty cafes and restaurants serving Tibetan favourites. One can choose any to relax at the rooftop with the view of stupa. There is a strong presence of Tibetans and Sherpas. It is located on what was a major trade route between Nepal & Tibet.There are numerous Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries & Nunneries) around Boudhanath.
The stupa’s architecture personify the five elements of the universe (earth, water, fire, air and ether). The triangular shape is the abstract form for the element of fire.The gilded canopy atop the steps embodies air, and the fifth element in Buddhist philosophy is represented by the spire, “symbolic of ether .” The two circular plinths supporting the hemisphere of the stupa symbolizes water.; The base of the stupa consists of 3 large platforms, which symbolize Earth.
6. Kathmandu Durbar Square
Surrounded by intricate wood carvings, centuries old rich culture and assortments of temples, Kathmandu Durbar Square holds a spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. This was once the residence of Nepal’s Royal family and all coronation ceremonies held here.The Durbar Square links 3 courtyards, the outer Kasthamandap, Kumari Ghar, and Shiva-Parvati Temple, and the inner section of Hanuman Dhoka- the entrance to the main palace, and to the south is the open area, a former royal elephant stables- they say! Most parts of the premises are open to tourists throughout the week. The Kathmandu Durbar Square held the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings who ruled over the city. Kathmandu Durbar Square is the historic center of Nepal in terms of cultural heritage, sovereignty, economics, religion and pride. The entire square was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Kumari Ghar is visited with wonderment. This is where the living goddess resides. A girl belonging to Buddhist family is chosen through an ancient selection process to become the human incarnation of the Hindu goddess. She also makes public appearances during festivals.
7. Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Paved with red bricks and oddles of bahals (courtyards) and temples mustered around, Patan Durbar Square showcases astonishing ancient architecture and centuries old palace of Malla kings. The square boasts three main courtyards. Mul Chok- the central courtyard is the largest of three chowks. Vidya temple and Taleju temple stand around this courtyard. The other two are Sundari Chok and Keshav Narayan Chok. Besides these courtyards, the complex bears numerous religious shrines noted for their exquisite carvings depicting Newari architecture. Krishna Mandir is the major attraction of the square. It is a Hindu temple built in the Shikhara style, entirely of stones, structured like a mountain peak. This architecture was built in 1637 by King Siddhi Narasimha Malla. The first floor pillar carvings notably narrate the events of the Mahabharat, while on the second floor there are visual carvings from Ramayan.
8. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur is the smallest district of Nepal, 13 km east of Kathmandu. This city is rich in religious and cultural aspects and is also known as an open museum of architectural masterpieces and ancient sculptures. This city of gods with cluster of temples, pagodas, monuments, artistic courtyards, traditional houses, stones taps and shrines from historical eras is also famous for Newari cuisine, delicacies and Juju Dhau (sweet curd). It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex consists of four distinct squares (Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square and Pottery Square. The pottery square is famous for artistically shaped potteries made out of clay. It is lovely sight to see the earthenware made with raw clay by hand or in wheels.
Another major attraction of this place is Nyatapola Temple. Nyatapola is a five storied high pagoda built with architectural perfection, symbolizing the five basic elements of the universe. This temple of Siddhalaxmi- the manifestation of wealth, is made of clay bricks and wood. This huge temple was built by King Bhupatindra Malla during the 16th century. The structures of the temple are embellished with carvings of divine stories.
55 window palace (Pachpanna Jhyale Durbar) is an elegant palace of fifty-five windows once home to the royalty until mid-17th century, in the square. It is now a national gallery. In the entrance is the Golden Gate,which leads into Mulchok Court which is home to the Taleju Temple dedicated to goddess Taleju Bhawani. The door is beautifully surmounted by a figure of the Hindu goddess Kali and Garuda (mythical griffin) and attended by two heavenly nymphs. It is embellished with other Hindu mythical creatures.
Other notable temples in the durbar square include Erotic elephants temple, Ugrachandi and Ugrabhairab, Rameshwar Temple , Badrinath Temple, Gopi Nath Temple, Kedarnath Temple, Hanuman Statue and Vatsala Devi Temple.
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