Nepal, a powerful cultural influenced country and a home for the world heritage sites that are one of the oldest with a fusion of artistic and architectural elements, has a lot more to offer for your first visit in Kathmandu Valley.
For first timers who’re sightseeing on a short vacation these places are best recommended:
Pashupati Nath Temple: The country’s main and largest temple (264 hectares of land) for the Hindu people situated on the eastern part of the valley on the banks of River Bagmati, is a religious wonder with a collections of temples (518 temples & monuments), ashrams, images and inscriptions all over making it on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979. The main temple is built in the Pagoda style of Nepalese architecture usually with cubic construction structure, carved wooden rafters and roofs of copper with gold coverings. With the belief that those who die in Pashupati Nath are reborn as humans regardless of any misconduct, hundreds of bodies are cremated everyday on the banks of Bagmati, which meets the holy river Ganga later on.
Boudha Nath Temple: The largest Asian stupa and a symbolism for the Buddhists and the Tibetan culture, it is another of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Believed to be found by the Nepalese Licchavi king Sivadeva between 590- 604 CE (common era) however other Nepalese chronicles date it to the reign of King Manadeva (464-505 CE). Despite the bad damage done during the 2015 earthquake, the stupa has made its comeback with renovations holding ritual placement for ‘life tree’ at the top of the dome. An ancient trade route from Tibet entering the Kathmandu Valley, the stupa offered refugee to Tibetan merchants and the tomb for the remains of Kassapa Buddha.
Narayanhiti Palace: The residence to the Nepalese monarch throughout generations is now an open museum to the public after the downfall of the last King, Gyanendra Shah; you can now enter and observe the royal house’s regal lifestyle incorporated in an vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings rebuilt by King Mahendra in 1963. The highlight of the palace is where Prince Dipendra allegedly massacred his family in 2001 with bullet holes still visible on some of the walls nevertheless a stunning site to visit.
Swayambhu Nath Temple: Standing atop a conical wooded hill, western Kathmandu, Swayanbhu Nath stands an ancient religious architecture and probably the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites. A variety of shrines and temples dates back to the Licchavi period with a Tibetan monastery, museum and library being recent additions. The stupa has Buddha’s eyes painted on it, and the number ‘1’ (in Devanagari script) as a nose. The temple has two access points: A long staircase leading directly to the maintemple and a road around the hill from the south leading to the southwest entrance.
Kathmandu Durbar Square: Surrounded with spectacular architectural skills of the Newari artists/craftsmen, the three Durbar Square is another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Kathmandu Durbar Square served as a home to Malla and Shah kings until the 19th century. Along with these palaces, the quadrangle space also reveals courtyards and temples decorated with elaborated carved wooden windows, panels and houses the King Tribhuwan memorial museum and the Mahendra museum. Only a few parts of the palace are open for visitors and at the southern end of the square is the Kumari Chok where the Raj Kumari lives.
Patan Durbar Square: Another one of the three Durbar Square, Patan’s Durbar Square is at central Lalitpur and a home to the ancient Malla Kings of Lalitpur. The square floors are tiled with red bricks and the main temples are aligned opposite of the western face of the palace. There is also a bell beside the main temple; this palace is the center of both Hinduism and Buddhism with 136 courtyards and 55 major temples. Within the square, the must visit temples are the Krishna Mandir (Temple), Bhimsen Mandir, Vishwanath Mandir and the Taleju Bhawani Mandir. There is plenty to see in the Patan Durbar Square.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square: Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the plaza in fornt of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom and the current town of Bhadgaon. The complex consists of at least four distinct squares making the entire square. Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is the most highly visited out of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley. The major attractions in these squares are the famous 55-window palace built by King Bhupatindra Malla, Vatsal Temple where several carvings were made on the stone temple of Goddess Vatsala Devi, Nyatapola Temple (meaning 5 story in Newari language) and the list continues to more fascinating temples and monuments.
The beginning is the first step to discovering the wonders of Nepal. Within each place there is a story behind it and the cultural impact of the many communities in Nepal. We all learn something through the story and the art of a country. Make your first trip to Kathmandu a worthwhile!