Once you enter Kathmandu you feel like an explorer of the bygone era. The mysterious and exotic vibe of this intoxicating capital of Nepal captures your senses.
Ornate temples, ancient squares, prayer flags swaying in the breeze and the stupendous mountains create a lasting impression. If you love history and heritage, here are five places in Kathmandu that are brimming with hidden stories.
1. Durbar Square
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Durbar Square is an important site for Buddhist and Hindu rituals. It has detailed wooden temples that date back to the 12th and 18th centuries.
Here is where you will see holy ceremonies, royal events and kingly coronations unfold. An earthquake in 2015 ravaged this spot, but today it stands right at the heart of the city where you can see locals conducting their daily prayers, a bustling market and witness some exquisite temples around the square that are an epitome of ancient architecture.
Durbar Square aptly captures the ancient cultural and heritage spirit of Nepal.
2. Swayambhunath Stupa
This is a 2,000-year-old Buddhist stupa considered holy to Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus. Also known as the Monkey Temple, there is a legend behind this name. The story goes that Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom, was in the process of raising the temple hill when the lice in his hair transformed into these monkeys. The story alone attracts hundreds of travellers to this temple complex.
What makes it special is the view from the top. Lush Kathmandu valleys and fluttering prayer flags make it an enchanting sight.
Cities like Patan are the backbone of Nepal’s culture and traditions.
Patan welcomes you inside its Durbar Square adorned with stunning Newari architecture. Dominated by the Royal palace and many other temples, this is one of the most favoured spots for historians, artists and writers. The first glance overwhelms you as you see the majestic structures with intricate carvings on it. But as you settle inside its many streets, you will enjoy turning the pages of history of the oldest city in Kathmandu valley.
When you think of Nepal, the first thing that you imagine is the Himalayas. But Nepal holds within its borders some of the most ancient cities, pulsating spirituality and some of the kindest people one will come across.
Visit the city of Bhaktapur, less than an hour away from the chaotic capital of Kathmandu. It is the third Newari city in Nepal, the other two being Kathmandu and Patan. Despite being damaged by the 2015 earthquake, it still remains one of the best preserved ones.
Bhaktapur is like a museum, with magnificent temples at every turn, rich stone and metal artwork and some alluring royal architectural gems.
5. Pashupatinath Temple
If you are looking for a spiritual experience, a visit to Pashupatinath Temple is an absolute must. Looming over the banks of the Bagmati river, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the most venerated one by Hindus.
While some come to enjoy the art, murals and architecture, Pashupatinath is also a cremation spot where people bid goodbye to their loved ones. This temple is where one sees the cycle of life and death exist peacefully and gives one a peek into Nepal’s traditional roots.
Kathmandu can seem chaotic at times, but its heritage and cultural riches are worth exploring and its energy is profoundly contagious.