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PLACE TO VISIT IN NEPAL

Inside Kathmandu Valley


KATHMANDU: Kathmandu valley is situated at an elevation of 1336 meters / 4400 feet above sea level and is proud of its magnificent location. It is surrounded all around by lush green rolling hills with beautiful sights of the Himalayan panorama on the north.The city contains more architectural marvels in a square mile than any other city in the world endowed with very ancient, unique, unrivalled art and culture. The Kathmandu city and twin medieval cities Bhaktapur and Lalitpur make up the Kathmandu Valley.

Places of interest in Kathmandu: Durbar Square (World Heritage Site): Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the most important sights in the valley. It is full of Ancient historic palaces, courtyards, carvings, colourful life and many others. The nine-storied Basantapur Durbar (palace) built by the head artists of the then three separate kingdoms (Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur), Kumari Ghar - a 17th century artistic building dedicated to Kumari -the Living Goddess, Nasal Chowk - The ceremonial courtyard of the monarchs are just a few highlights here.

Swayambhu Stupa (World Heritage Site): Just about 2 kilometers to the west of the Kathmandu Durbar Square perched on top of a hill is the majestic stupa of Swayambhunath. The route meanders through the alleys of old Kathmandu to Swayambhunath - The stupa was built between 460 and 1200 AD. Its establishment is linked to the creation of the Kathmandu Valley and it is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. The views of the valley from the hilltop are great.

Bouddhanath Stupa (World Heritage Site): Bouddhanath stupa is one of the largest and oldest stupas in the world. It lies about 6 kilometers to the east of downtown and is very close to the temple of Pashupatinath - the most revered Hindu pilgrimage site in Nepal.

Pashupatinath Temple (World Heritage Site):
One of the holiest Hindu shrines in the world, the temple of Pashupatinath is 5km to the east of the city center. The fabulous pagoda houses the lingam (phallic symbol) of Lord Shiva. The complex contains many other temples as well as the holy Bagmati River, which flows through this complex and is the place where many cremations take place every day. Bhaktapur

Durbar Square (World Heritage Site):
Bhaktapur, literally meaning "city of devotees" is about 14 kilometers east of kathmandu. The Durbar Square is a living museum of ancient art and architecture. The elegant 15th century Palace of 55 windows, artistic courtyards, the Golden Gate, the five-roofed Nyatapol temple soaring gracefully into the sky from atop a five-storied base and many others fascinate the travelers. Thimi - a typical Newar village famous for pottery is another highlight and a perfect combination.

Patan Durbar square (World Heritage Site):
Patan is one of the ancient cities about five kilometers southeast of kathmandu. Also known as "the city of artists" and "the city of beauty", it is full of Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples with fine gateways, guardian deities and beautiful carvings. The Krishna Temple (an octagonal granite edifice dedicated to lord Krishna), Kumbheswar Temple (one of the premier places that celebrates Janai Poornima - the Sacred Thread Festival), the Golden Temple / Hiranya Varna Mahabihar - "Eternity Itself", the Patan Museum, Patan Industrial Estate (specializing in cottage industry hand loom and handicrafts), the Tibetan Refugee Centre and the Central Zoo (the only zoo in Nepal) allure all the travelers to Patan.

Changunarayan:
Changunarayan (World Heritage Site): The Temple of Changunarayan is one of the oldest temples in Kathmandu Valley. The richness of Changunarayan is surpassed only by the wealth of the greatest temple of Pashupatinath. The temple is sitting on the hillock called Changu- the name derived from the name of the god. Around the temple, you will see the stone image of Garuda- the half-bird half-man that is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. To visit this remarkable temple you may walk up from the Sankhu Road or bike up from Bhaktapur. However, the most interesting one would be the half-day hike along the hill ridge route from Nagarkot to Changunarayan.

Phulchowki: Phulchowki - meaning "Hill of Flowers" is located at an altitude of 2762 meters /9060 feet above sea level, 20 kilometers / 12.50 miles to the southeast of kathmandu and is the highest point / the tallest hill top surrounding the kathmandu valley. It commands a grand view of the entire kathmandu valley with a backdrop of the Himalayas to the north and the terai plains to the south. The forested slopes are full of rhododendrons, orchids and other green vegetation. Deer, Bear, leopard and more than 250 species of birds have been already recorded in Phulchowki.

 

Periphery of Kathmandu

Budhanilkantha: Eight kilometers to the north of kathmandu, at the Shivapuri foothill is the largest and the most important Bishnu shrines in the valley. The main shrine consists of a giant granite image of lord Bishnu reclining on a bed of coiled snakes in the middle of a pond. Jalasaya Narayan - popularly known as Budhanilknantha is Lord Vishnu for Vaisnavs, Lord Shiva for Shaivas, and Lord Buddha for Buddhists! Buddhists and different sects of Hindus worship this God in the names of their faith. This outstanding artwork of Licchavi sculptors dates back to 7th century and is the most beautiful among all the stone engravings within the kathmandu valley.

Dakshinkali:
Dakshinkali is one of the very popular pilgrim sites for the Hindus and is quite crowded especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays when animal sacrifices are offered. It is located about 22 kilometers /14 miles to the south of kathmandu. Goddess Kali is a Tantric deity and is the symbol of power and authority. A trip to this beautiful location combined with Chovar Gorge from where all the waters of kathmandu valley drain out is quite a rewarding experience.

Namobuddha: Namo Buddha means "Greetings to the Buddha". It is the symbol of human sacrifice at the highest possible level. A legend has it that a prince while hunting in the forest saw a hungry tigress with her cubs. The compassionate prince seeing the pitiable conditions of the starving animals cut the flesh of his body and feed them. Such an extra ordinary deed of the prince led him to be a Buddha at the site where he feed his flesh to the animals. The main stupa dedicated to Namo Buddha depicts this story of self-less action of the prince. Namo Buddha has always drawn reverent pilgrims. You can drive up to Dhulikhel from Kathmandu and can chooose either to further drive on the rough road or hike up to Namobuddha.

Nagarkot:
Nagarkot at an altitude of 2175 meters / 7100 feet above the sea level is the second highest peak around the Kathmandu Valley. After an hour-long exciting and winding drive you will be able to feel the cool breeze blowing endlessly into your face, and see the widest range Of Himalayas including five of the world's ten tallest mountains with your bare eyes from here: Mount Everest (8848 meters/ 29002 feet), Lhotse (8516 meters/27940 feet), Cho Oyu (8201 meters/26900 feet), Makalu (8463meters/27760 feet) and Manaslu (8163 meters/26780 feet). It is also one of the best spots to visit for unmatched sunrise/sunset views.

Dhulikhel:
The ancient little town of Dhulikhel is just about 30 kilometers / 18 miles east of kathmandu (about one hour of easy and smooth drive). Here you can experience the rich traditional culture of the Newar community, enjoy the extraordinary sunrise and sunset views and watch the majestic Himalayan ranges all the way from Karyolung in the east to the Himalchuli in the west.

Changunarayan: Changunarayan (World Heritage Site): The Temple of Changunarayan is one of the oldest temples in Kathmandu Valley. The richness of Changunarayan is surpassed only by the wealth of the greatest temple of Pashupatinath. The temple is sitting on the hillock called Changu- the name derived from the name of the god. Around the temple, you will see the stone image of Garuda- the half-bird half-man that is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. To visit this remarkable temple you may walk up from the Sankhu Road or bike up from Bhaktapur. However, the most interesting one would be the half-day hike along the hill ridge route from Nagarkot to Changunarayan.

Phulchowki: Phulchowki - meaning "Hill of Flowers" is located at an altitude of 2762 meters /9060 feet above sea level, 20 kilometers / 12.50 miles to the southeast of kathmandu and is the highest point / the tallest hill top surrounding the kathmandu valley. It commands a grand view of the entire kathmandu valley with a backdrop of the Himalayas to the north and the terai plains to the south. The forested slopes are full of rhododendrons, orchids and other green vegetation. Deer, Bear, leopard and more than 250 species of birds have been already recorded in Phulchowki.

Shivapuri National Park:
Shivapuri - the land of Shiva is about 9 kilometers/5.60 miles to the north of kathmandu and covers an area of 144 square kilometers. There is a great view of the central Nepal Himalaya and the kathmandu valley from the hilltop at an elevation of 2732 meters /8960 Feet above sea level. The Shivapuri Hills offer great opportunity for Bird Watching, animal sightings and short trekking/hiking tours. Being a transition zone between subtropical and temperate climates, rhododendrons, Black Bear, Deer, Jungle Cat, Leopard, Woodpeckers, Eagles and other creatures of the nature can be seen here.

 

Outside Kathmandu Valley

Pokhara: The magnificent central Nepal valley of pokhara lies nestled beneath the splendid Annapurna range, home to some of the most beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks of Nepal. It is situated about 200 kilometers/125 miles west of Kathmandu and is the second most popular tourist destination in Nepal. Stretched out on one side is the serene Phewa Lake while to the north lays the splendid 140-kilometer Himalayan Panorama including the famed Machhapuchhre (the Fish Tail). A perfect blend of fascinating mountains, beautiful lakes, artistic and sacred temples, Inquisitive caves and exciting spots like Sarangkot attract people from all around the world to enjoy a relaxing holiday in this "Lake City of Nepal"..

Royal Chitwan National Park: Widely acknowledged as one of the best national parks in Asia, the Royal Chitwan National Park, with an area of 932 square kilometers is the oldest national park in the kingdom. It is located about 150 kilometers /94 miles southwest of kathmandu in the subtropical lowlands of Nepal and is a World Heritage Site since 1984. A good population of the most graceful Royal Bengal Tiger, the rare Greater One-horned Rhino, Wild Cattle/ Bison, Wild boars, Leopard, Wild Elephant, different species of Deer, Crocodiles, Python, Striped Hyena, Pangolin and more than 500 species of birds make Chitwan a wildlife Paradise. Elephant Safaris, Canoe Rides, Jungle Drives, Hikes, Round-table Discussions, Slide Lectures and Tours to the Ethnic Villages add to the charm of staying in the Deluxe Wildlife Resorts amidst the tranquility of the nature.

Lumbini:
Lumbini is the symbol of peace for all humanities and is the most Holy ground for the whole Buddhist world. Queen Maya Devi gave birth to prince Siddhartha at this place in 623 BC, who later on became the Buddha. The first major Buddhist ruler of India, Emperor Ashoka erected a pillar In 249 BC to commemorate his visit to this holy place. Now it stands proudly right in front of the Mayadevi Temple as a historical monument. The Maya Devi Temple has a stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch. Excavations have turned up a stone bearing a "foot print" indicating the exact place of birth. Adjacent to the Mayadevi temple is a sacred pond called "Pushkarni Pond" where Queen Maya Devi is said to have bathed and Prince Siddhartha was given his first purification bath after his birth. Around an hour's drive northwest from Lumbini lies the interesting archeologically important site of TILAURAKOT. This has been identified as the ancient Kapilvastu, the capital of King Suddodhana, Buddha's father, and where the Buddha himself as Prince Siddhartha spent the first 29 years of his life. Lumbini Museum, Kapilvastu Museum, Lumbini Library (containing some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture) and the artistic temples/monasteries (built by different nations like China, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar and others) glorify your trip to Lumbini. Lumbini is situated in the Terai plains of Nepal at a distance of about 282 kilometers/176 miles to the southwest of Kathmandu. You can travel to Lumbini both by road via Pokhara or Chitwan or directly by air from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa followed by a short drive

Royal Bardia National Park: Royal Bardia National Park is the most undisturbed and the largest wilderness area in the terai lowlands of Nepal. It is densely covered by Sal forests, riverine forests & grassland and is a perfect habitat for endangered animals like Wild Elephant, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Black Buck, the Gangetic Dolphin, Gharial Crocodile and the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. More than 360 species of birds including the endangered Bengal Florican, Sarus Crane, Silver-eared Mesia and the Lesser Florican are found in the park. Royal Bardia National Park can be reached by a short flight (50 minutes) from Kathmandu to Nepalganj followed by a drive of about 3 hours or by surface (about 11 hours from Kathmandu, 8 hours from Chitwan and 3 hours from Mahendra Nagar - Royal Shuklaphanta National Park). A trip to Bardia National Park is best combined with rafting in the thrilling Karnali river with or without trekking and / or Shuklaphanta and Chitwan.

Royal Shuklapanta Wildlife Reserve:
The Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve - situated in the southern part of Far-western Nepal at an elevation of 90 to 270 meters above sea level, is very close to the Gaddachowki Entry Point on Nepal-India border. The phantas - plains with tall grasses and forests provide the best habitat for the Swamp Deer, which can be seen in large herds - probably the largest in the world. Other wild animals in this tiny reserve (just 305 square kilometers) include wild Boar, Wild Elephant(40 - 45), Rhinoceros, Blue Bull, Leopard, Hog Deer, Hispid Hare, over 300 species of Resident and migratory Birds and the most sought after Royal Bengal Tiger(30-35)! Tours to Shuklaphanta are best combined with the Corbett National Park, Dudhwa National Park, Nainital, Delhi or other destinations in India; or, with Bardia, Lumbini and / or Chitwan in Nepal. The best time to visit Shuklaphanta is from October to April. One can fly from Kathmandu to Mahendra Nagar or to Dhangadhi in the far west followed by a short drive to the reserve or, can reach to the same by surface. Elephant Safaris, Jeep Drives and Walks provide the best game-viewing opportunities in Shuklaphanta.

Janakpur:
Janakpur was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Mithila, which existed around 700 BC. It stands out as the cleanest and the most attractive towns of the terai and is named after the legendary king Janak. The most sacred sites are the Janaki Temple dedicated to Sita; the Ram Sita Bibaha Mandir built over the spot where Ram and Sita were married, Ram Mandir dedicated to Lord Ram and the holy pond Dhanush Sagar. Janakpur is thronged by thousands of pilgrims and other visitors throughout the year and especially during the festival of Bibaha Panchami (The annual festival to Celebrate the marriage of Sita and Ram when the whole city is enlivened by the wedding festivities for a whole week). Janakpur is also the center of the Mithila arts and crafts in Nepal. A number of good hotels in this sacred city will make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. You can best combine Janakpur with Safari tours in the Royal Chitwan National Park or in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve:
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is situated in the embankments of the Sapta Koshi river system in eastern Nepal. It covers an area of 175 square kilometers and is the only place for the last surviving population of Wild Water Buffaloes in Nepal. Spotted and Hog Deer, Wild Boar, Blue Bull, the endangered Gharial Crocodile, Gangetic Dolphin and more than 439 species of Birds have been recorded here. Koshi Tappu is proud to be the habitat for many species of birds not seen elsewhere in Nepal. Some 20 species of Ducks, 2 species of Ibises, many Storks, Egrets, Herons and the Endangered Swamp Partridges & Bengal Florican quench the thirst of the bird watchers at Koshi Tappu.

Daman: Daman is a hilltop popular for the view of the world's highest peak - Mount Everest. It is only 80 km away from Kathmandu but you will need to drive for about four hours because of the mountain highway. However, the drive through the scenic landscape and villages is quite enjoyable. You can have luxurious accommodation and cuisine of international standard at Daman. Your visit to this tranquil place far away from the effects of mass tourism can be best combined with Wildlife Safari Tours in Chitwan or Koshi Tappu.

Nuwakot:
Nuwakot is interesting to the lovers of Nepalese history and to the trekkers too. You can see a wonderful palace of Great King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founding father of Modern Nepal. The hilltop of Nuwakot is one of the best spots for watching the terrific Himalayan panorama. You can trek from here to Langtang National Park area and beyond.

Muktinath/ Jomsom: Muktinath is situated at an altitude of 3800 meters /12500 feet above sea level in Mustang district on the northern arc of the Annapurna circuit trekking trail. It is held sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. Set around the main temple of Lord Vishnu is 108 waterspouts. The Jwala Mai temple nearby contains a spring and an eternal flame fed by natural gas spewing out of the ground. Jomsom (2713 meters/8900 feet) is another popular tourist destination in the area just about 18 kilometers/ 11 miles southwest of Muktinath. You may fly to Jomsom directly from Kathmandu, Pokhara, or trek to the area. Pony Rides are the alternatives between Muktinath and Jomsom or vice-versa.

Gorkha:
Gorkha is a scenic and historical hill town lying almost midway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. King Prithvi Narayan Shah the Great, the founding father of Modern Nepal was born here. It was from this very place that the King began his campaign to unify all the then small kingdoms formulating the present kingdom of Nepal. Situated on a hill overlooking the snowy Himalayan peaks is the beautiful Gorkha Durbar, a fort and an artistic temple complex built in the 16th century. Treks to the Manasalu Region start from Gorkha and treks to the Annapurna Circuit can be started from here too. Gorkha is also best combined with wildlife safari tours in the Royal Chitwan National Park.

Tansen : Tansen (1371 meters/4500 feet) is a very picturesque town ((123 kilometers/77 Miles south of Pokhara) Located on the Siwalik Mountains - the youngest mountains in this region, it offers an ultra-wide Himalayan panorama ranging from Dhaulagiri in the west to Gauri Shankar in the east! Looking downhill, one has a sweeping view of the Tinau River valley, the Churia range and the Terai flat lands. The breathtaking views are accompanied by the ancient culture, friendly and welcoming smiles of the local people and the peaceful atmosphere- all perfectly blended. You can combine your trip to this pristine destination with Pokhara, Lumbini- the Birthplace of Lord Buddha, With Gorkha and/or with the wildlife safaris in the national parks down in the lowlands.

Goisaikunda: Gosaikunda means a cluster of high altitude lakes. Here, high mountains shelter a number of picturesque lakes. They are at an altitude of 4360 meters/14300 feet. It is one of the most visited religious places of pilgrimage in Nepal and is a Trekkers' Paradise. Several modern comfortable lodges and resting places have come up on the way to Gosaikunda. The pilgrims visit this area in July-August during a religious fair. People believe that Lord Shiva after taking the poison skimmed from the ocean came to this place to get cool his burning throat. Since then, he has been in the reflections on the lakes. The views of the Himalayan panorama are great from the Gosainkunda region.

Namche Bazzar:
The name of Namche Bazaar, home to the legendary Sherpas is exciting to many mountain climbers and lovers of the high mountains. It is close to the base camp at the world's highest peak -Mount Everest. The Khumbu Himal Range shelters this small Sherpa settlement and a very important station for the mountaineers. Namche Bazaar (3,440 meters/11200 feet) is also the gateway to the Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park. A trip to this exotic location of worldwide fame is quite rewarding.