Sankhu is a very old Newar city and lies 23 km from Kathmandu. It derives its name from Sankhapura, which means Conch City. It lies on the famous route to Tibet. The traders used this route from 7th to 9th centuries AD. This legendary city is worth a visit, because of its old houses, beautiful wood- carved temples and old stone water taps. The famous temple of Goddess Ugratara Bajrayogini is situated at a 45 minute walking distance from here.
The Goddess Bajrayogini is the Hindu - Buddhist parallel manifestation of Goddess Kali. The temple complex is supposed to be as old as Changunarayan (467 AD). It is mentioned in Gopal Vamsabali, a research manuscript, which states Manadev, performed penance at this place. The present three- tier structure of the temple is the contribution of King Pratap Malla.
Nagarkot is a famous place to see the mountain ranges and sunrise. It lies at an altitude of 2211m and is located 30 km north east of Kathmandu. If the weather is good, one can see great views of the Himalayas including Annapurna, Langtang, Dorje Lakpa, Gauri Shanker and Ganesh Himala. The mountain flight that goes each day to show Mt. Everest and other Himalayan mountains from Kathmandu goes via the Nagarkot route.
Many visitors go to Nagarkot to see the magnificent sunrise. Once the sun begins to rise from behind the Himalayas, it looks spectacular as the mountains change colors. However to see this view of the sunrise, visitors have to be in Nagarkot by 4 o'clock in the morning.
Changunarayan is situated at the end of a long ridge which runs well into the valley and is said to have been built in 323 AD by King Hari Datta Varma. The temple is richly decorated with sculptures and carvings. It is said to be the oldest temple in the valley.
Bhaktapur (1,401m) covers an area of four square miles. Bhaktapur or the city of devotees still retains a medieval charm and visitors to this ancient town are treated to myriad wonders of cultural and artistic achievements. The past glory of the Malla rule continues to be reflected at Durbar Square. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. Bhaktapur is famous for woodcarving and the traditional topi or cap. The places of interest include Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the National Art Gallery, Nyatapola Temple, Bhairavnath Temple, Dattatreya Temple and Dattatreya Square.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces such as the lion gate, the golden gate, the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, Dattatraya Temple etc.
A magnificent statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace. It was listed in the UNESCO world Heritage Monument List in 1979.
Palace of 55 Windows
Being built by King Yaksha Malla in 1427 A.D. and remodeled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the 17th Century, the balcony and windows are intricately carved and are a masterpiece of wood carving.
This five storied Pagoda Style temple was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1708 A.D. and is well known for its massive structure and subtle workmanship. It is the tallest pagoda structure in the Kathmandu valley.
Known as Kantipur, Kathmandu is the capital of the Kingdom of Nepal. Here you will visit the temple of the Living Goddess who acknowledges the greetings of the devotees from the balcony of her temple residence. Kashtamandap - the source of the name Kathmandu and is supposed to be made from the timber of a single tree and Durbar Square with its array of temples, overlooked by the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, the ancient place of the Nepalese Royalty.
This day you will visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and Pashupatinath. Though there are other places worthy to be visited such as Machchendranath Temple, Akash Bhairab Temple, Kumari Temple, Ashok Vinayak, Jaishi Dewal, Tundikhel, Marty'r Memorial, Bhadrakali Temple, Singha Darbar, Narayanhiti Darbar, Kaiser Library, Budhanilkantha, Balaju Water Gardens, the National Museum, Guheswari Temple, Chabahil and Chandra Vinayak.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the most popular tourist destinations and is enlisted in the World Heritage Sites. Clustered around the central Durbar Square are the old Royal Palace (Hanuman Dhoka), numerous interesting temples, the Kumari Chowk or Kumari Bahal (House of the Living Goddess) and the Kasthamandap (House of Wood) from which Kathmandu derived its present name. An inquisitive exploration in Durbar Square reveals the ancient art and architecture of Nepal which has proved to be a masterpiece to everyone accepting its genuineness.
Located approximately 4 kilometers west of Thamel, this Buddhist Stupa is said to be 2000 years old. The Stupa which forms the main structure is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painted on the four sided base of the spire are the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. This hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and Pagoda temples.
This Stupa, 8 kilometers east of Kathmandu City, is one of the biggest in the world of its kind. It stands with four pairs of eyes in the four cardinal directions keeping watch for righteous behavior and human prosperity. This Buddhist Stupa was built by King Man Deva at the advice of the Goddess Mani Jogini. It is built on an octagonal base inset with prayer wheels. The shrine is ringed by houses of Lamas or Buddhist priests.
Situated 5 kilometers east of Kathmandu City, Pashupatinath temple is one of the holiest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated amidst a lush green natural setting on the bank of the sacred Bagmati river, the temple built in pagoda style has a jilted roof and richly carved silver doors. Visitors are permitted to view the temple from the east bank of the Bagmati River, as entrance to the temple is strictly forbidden to all non Hindus. Pashupatinath is the center of the annual pilgrimage on the day of Shivaratri which falls in the month of February or March. Behind the temple are the cremation grounds.
Kirtipur situated on the top of a hillock is 6 kilometers southwest of Kathmandu. The ancient township is a natural fortress and has a proud and courageous history. It was founded by Shiva Deva between 1099 and 1126. It was part of the kingdom of Patan after the division of the Kathmandu valley in 1482. Historically, this city is famous for its resistance against the invasion of Gorkhas. The King of Gorkha, Prithivi Narayan Shah attacked there three times in attempts to conquer this city. The city is historically and artistically important. There are many small and big temples and stupas scattered around the city. The Chilamchu Stupa and the temple of Bagh Bhairav are the major sights here. Kirtipur offers quaint streets lined with artistic houses and temple squares. The people are known for their skill in building and weaving.
The temple of Dakshinkali is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali and is one of the most popular places of worship in Kathmandu. Located 22 km from the city center on the southern rim of the valley past Pharping village, the shrine is especially crowded on Tuesdays and Saturdays when animal sacrifices are offered to the deity. According to mythology, the Goddess Durga killed a demon and drank the blood of animals which is the reason blood is scarified to her. The temple was built by Pratap Malla during the 17th century, but the construction appears to be very new.
Next you stop at Chobhar gorge. Legend has it that Manjushree cut out the gorge to drain out Kathmandu valley which was then a lake. There is a small but picturesque temple of Adinath located on the top of a hill. From the top of this hill, one can have a completed view of snowcapped mountains peaks.
The ancient city of Patan, lying 5 km southeast of Kathmandu, is also known as Lalitpur, or the city of fine arts. The city is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments. The diversity of medieval culture that allowed both Hinduism and Buddhism to flourish has left a rich legacy of impressive sightseeing in this city. At Patan you explore Patan Durbar Square, Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor temple, Krishna Temple, Golden Temple and many other places. You feel as if Patan has been unveiled before you as an open museum showcasing intricately carved windows, intrinsic roof struts, statues of gods and goddesses, temples designed in pagoda style with erotic carvings, repose metalwork facades and many other exquisite facets. You will also get to see the handicraft center in Patan.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan is probably one the oldest Buddhist cities in the world. It is believed that the city was founded in the 3rd century A.D. Patan is situated on a plateau across the Bagmati River. This city is known for its fine traditional crafts and rich artistic heritage.
Patan was designed and built after Buddhist Dharma Chakra. It is surrounded by 4 stupas as the 4 corners of Patan, one at each corner of its cardinal points. These stupas are said to have been built by the famous Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. It is also said that the ancient city got its name Lalitpattan after the Lalitadhara forest which was cleared by King Biradava. It is said that King Yalamber named this city after himself. Before the Malla Dynasty ascended the throne in 1480 the Muslim Emperor Sam Suddin Iliyas destroyed the temples and monuments of Patan. When King Siddhi Nar Singh Malla ascended the throne in 1618, he started to rebuild the city and Shrinivas and Yog Narendra Malla made further contributions to it. Today, one can see the beautiful palace complex and squares built during the Malla period.
The Krishna Mandir is dedicated to lord Krishna and was built by Siddhi Narsingha Malla in 1637. Many writers have considered this temple as an ornament of Patan. This temple was built in Shikhara style, which is considered to be of Indian influence in Nepal. The temple is three storied and important scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics have been carved inside the temple. The statue of Krishna lies in the first floor where only Hindus are allowed to enter. It is one of the most visited temples in Patan. On the occasion of Krishna Janmasthanmi (Lord Krishna's Birthday), thousands of devotees come to the temple. The other importance of this temple is a statue of Garuda (the vehicle of Krishna or Vishnu) in front of the temple.
The Golden Temple or Hiranya Varna Mahavihar is the richest temple in Patan. The temple is just a two minute walk towards the north of the Durbar Square. The temple, built in the 12th Century, is popular among the Buddhists of Patan. At the main entrance, two lions are guarding the temple. The building has three roofs with copper golden facades. Inside the temple, there are images of Buddha and Boddisattvas. In the courtyard, there is a small temple with a beautifully decorated pinnacle.
Other interesting things to see here are Mulchowk, Jagat Narayan Temple, Big Bell, Pillar of Yognarendra Malla, Hari Shanker temple, Vishwanath temple, Bhimsen temple, Marga Hiti, and Mani Mandap, Café Pagoda, Kumbheswor Temple, Rato Machhendra Temple, Minnath, Rudra Varna Mahavihar and so on.
Chapagaun is a very old Newar Village in southern Patan. The main attraction of this village is the Bajra Barahi Shrine. Barahi is the name of one of the Mother Goddesses Ajima. It lies in the center of a thick grove, three hundred meters from the center of the village. The temple was built 500 years ago.
About 6 kilometers South of Patan lies the two medieval villages of Bungmati and Khokana. To reach these villages one has to follow the straight road from the Tibetan refugee Camp to Jawalakhel. About 5000 people live in Bungmati and 3000 inhabitants in Khonkana. Most of the people are Newars. From Khokana, Bungmati is a 15 minute walk. In these villages one can see typical Newari houses. Also these villages are popular for chilly and mustard oil. The best time to visit Bungmati and Khokana is in October and November because at that time the whole village looks colorful. They hang red chilly garland from the top floor to the ground floor in the whole village. Most of the farmers in these villages are either involved in spinning or the oil pressing business. The mustard oil of Khokana is still popular in the Kathmandu valley.