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Durbar Sqaure Swayambhunath Stupa Bhaktapur Pashupatinath Temple Bodhnath Stupa Changu Narayan temple Hanuman Dhoka
Kasthamandapa Kumari Ghar Taleju Temple National Museum Tribhuvan Museum Museum of National History
Royal Chitwan National Park          

Durbar Square

 
images/darbar.jpg Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Durbar Square is the religious and social heart of Kathmandu's old city and is a complex of palaces, temples, shrines, statues and courtyards built between the 12th and 18th centuries by the ancient kings of Nepal. The square is a queer assortment of the old and the new - elaborately carved architectural features and curving roofs provide shelter for cows, beggars and weary tourists; Brahman priests and painted Sadhus perform rituals and pose for photos, while souvenir sellers and rickshaw drivers compete for attention among the crowds. Stone lions guard the gates to the Old Royal Palace that contains a number of courtyards and several museums. Set into the palace wall is a 17th-century stone inscription written in 15 languages; it is believed that milk will flow from the spout below if anyone deciphers the entire inscription. On the other side of the square, the Kasthamandap temple is an open pavilion topped by a pyramidal tower, said to be created from the wood of a single tree. It is purportedly the Valley's oldest building, and the city of Kathmandu derives its name from this ancient temple.

Swayambhunath Stupa

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images/swyam.jpg The golden spire of the 5th-century Swayambhu stupa is adorned with a colorful fluttering of prayer flags; it crowns a hill overlooking the Kathmandu Valley and offers fantastic views over the city of Kathmandu. Swayambhunath is one of the most recognizable symbols in Nepal and the painted eyes of Buddha watch all those who ascend the worn stone steps. It is a World Heritage Site and one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal, and is at the source of the Valley's mythical beginning. Legend has it that the history of the Valley began with the draining of an ancient lake by an Enlightened Being to reveal the Valley and a lotus flower was transformed into the hill and the shining light became the stupa itself. Swarms of pilgrims and red-clad monks circle the complex, spinning the prayer wheels, while the scores of monkeys that give the temple its nickname, Monkey Temple, prance about in irreverent groups. Interestingly the temple complex is scattered with shrines and statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities and the assortment of pilgrims from both faiths characterizes the country's unique religious harmony.

Royal Chitwan National Park

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images/royal-park.jpgRoyal Chitwan National ParkOf the 14 national parks and reserves in Nepal, the Royal Chitwan National Park is the oldest and the most popular safari destination for visitors. Situated in the sub-tropical Tarai lowlands, the jungle is home to endangered animals such as the one-horned rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal tiger. Other animals include leopards, wild elephants, Indian bison, sloth bears, crocodiles, pythons, monitor lizards, pangolins, and over 400 species of birds. There are different ways to explore the park, but elephant-back safaris are the most popular. Jeep safaris, guided walks, overnight jungle expeditions and canoe trips are also available. There is a wide choice of accommodation ranging from luxury camps or hotels within the park, to budget options on the outskirts.

Bhaktapur

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images/bhaktpur.jpg Bhaktapur Lying just 22 miles (35km) east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, also known as the City of Devotees, was the capital of the Kathmandu Valley during the 14th to 16th centuries, and the wealth of fabulous architectural showpieces, soaring pagodas, richly ornamented houses and medieval layout is testament to this period.
The whole town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is filled with palaces, temples, statues and squares connected by a maze of largely pedestrian-only streets. The main central square, Durbar Square, boasts many architectural attractions, including the Golden Gate, the 15th-century Palace of 55 Windows and several statues of ancient kings. The second main square of Taumadhi is presided over by the graceful Nyatpola Temple, the tallest in the Valley atop a five-story platform. Bhaktapur is also the center of traditional pottery and weaving industries in the Kathmandu Valley.

Pashupatinath Temple

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images/pashupati.jpg One of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world, Pashupatinath is one of the major temples devoted to Shiva (Pashupatinath) on the Indian subcontinent and attracts thousands of Hindi pilgrims each year. Shiva is the patron deity of Nepal. The Temple of Pashupatinath stands on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, a tributary of the Ganges, and is renowned for its beautiful architecture. It is surrounded by numerous other temples, shrines, statues and pagodas making it a temple complex, rather than just a temple.
The complex is home to Kathmandu's funeral ghats, a series of cremation platforms spread along the river where the bodies of Hindus are burnt and the ashes scattered into the holy river. The complex swarms with Sadhus (holy Hindi ascetics) and Shiva devotees daily, meditating and praying on the steps throughout the temple. A World Heritage Site, Pashupatinath is also one of the richest temples in Nepal, having received a great deal of wealth from kings and aristocrats in devotion to the god. The temple buildings are closed to non-Hindu visitors, but the site can be enjoyed by all.  

Boudhanath Stupa

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images/bhudanath.jpg Boudhanath Stupa is the largest stupa in the Kathmandu Valley at about 131ft (40m) high, and one of the largest and most important Buddhist stupas in the world. The all-seeing red, white and blue eyes of Buddha are painted on all four sides of the stupa, similar to Swayambhunath, and surrounded by hundreds of fluttering prayer flags, prayer wheels and small images of Buddha. It is central to the Tibetan culture in Nepal and is said to date back 500 years. Buddhist festivals are a hive of activity when thousands of Buddhists join together to join in the sacred rituals, such as the Tibetan New Year, or Lhosar, in February every year.

Changu Narayan Temple

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images/changu.jpgDedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, Changu Narayan Temple is situated on a ridge overlooking the Kathmandu Valley, and is one of the oldest and most impressive examples of pagoda architecture in Nepal. The temple is believed to be 1,600 years old. The complex is a World Heritage Site, and is known for its incredible woodcarvings, metal inscriptions and stone statues, which adorn the courtyard, all dating between the 5th and 13th centuries.

Hanuman Dhoka

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images/hanuman-dhoka.jpg Hanuman Dhoka (Hanuman Gate), with several complexes spread over an area of about five acres, is the social, religious and urban focal point of Kathmandu. The square is the complex of palaces, courtyards and temples that were built between the 12th and the 18th centuries by the ancient Malla Kings of Nepal.

Kasthamandapa

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images/kasth.jpgKasthamandapa or house of wood is the building which gave Kathmandu its name. Legend narrates that the whole building is constructed from a Single Sal tree. At first it was a community hall where local people gathered for important ceremonies but later it was converted to a Temple of Gorakhnath. The image of Gorakhnath glitters at the center of the building.

Kumari Ghar

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images/kumari-ghar.jpg The house of the Living Goddess, the Kumari Ghar looks like the monastery that was constructed in 1757 by Jaya Prakash Malla. Inside it lives the young girl who is selected to be the town's living goddess, until she reaches her first puberty and reverts to being a normal mortal.

Taleju Temple

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images/taleju.jpg The temple is a famous Hindu and Jain religious site. The three-tiered temple is the first to be erected with more than two roofs and raised on a tall stepped platform. It is said that the Mandir was built in the shape of a yantra on the advice of the Taleju Goddess herself and that she appeared to the King at the dedication ceremony disguised as a bee.

The National Museum

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rmgThe National Museum located on the way to Swayambhunath Hill is most popular among the Kathmandu people. It holds not only ancient artifacts, but also interesting mementos of recent kings and recently used firearms. A visitor to the museum will understand much about the way wars were fought in this part of the world and the type of firearms that were used to conquer Nepal and later to protect it from the British Raj. Other artifacts include ancient statues, paintings, and murals. You may be interested in the doll collection as well as the stuffed animals there. The collection of coins in the complex includes coins going back to the second century BC as well as excellent samples from dynasties that ruled Nepal after the birth of Christ.

The Tribhuvan Museum

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images/tribuvan.jpgIt is located in the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. This palace was the main seat of the Shah kings for many years. Here is an exhibit that highlights the life of King Tribhuvan. King Tribhuvan is best remembered for his valiant efforts in liberating the nation from the rule of the Rana prime min isters. You may also wish to look out over Kathmandu from the Basantapur Tower in the complex. It is said that a benevolent king used to keep watch over his people from this window to make sure that food was being cooked in every home (the smoke coming from the roof-tops told him whether or not a cooking fire was on in every house). You may also wish to see the section that carries the mementos of King Mahendra and observe the Malla architecture and carvings.

The Museum of Natural History

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images/natural-history.jpgThis museum is nearby the Swayambhunath Hill and has a fine display of Himalayan butterflies, snakes and plants. Though it is among the least frequented museums in the Valley, a visit to the museum will show you many rare birds and insect species.