Kathmandu in Brief
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal with a land of 218 square miles located above 4400 ft in a beautiful valley that is circled by a greenery mountains in an unbroken succession. Valley includes two other cities, Patan and Bhaktapur all together is called the Kathmandu Valley or just Kathmandu City. It is the largest municipality in the country. When coming by a plane, this is where you will put your first step in Nepal–get ready for a life changing experience.
Kathmandu is one the best places to see in the world before you die–highly recommended travel destination by media like National Geographic, Travel Channel, CNN, BBC and other International media. Kathmandu city is an unique blend of history, art and culture of the people perfectly made by nature to wow any traveler to region.
Country’s government services, embassy, large companies are all located in Kathmandu. In reality, Kathmandu city is the city of tourism– travel agents, tours and trekking operators, budget and class hotels are here for travelers.
Things to do in Kathmandu
For many travelers after visiting Kathmandu they call it with one word, the city of temples. There are more temples here then houses, ancient monuments and world heritage site like Bhaktapur Durbar aren’t the only tip of the tongue topics. Find below the things you should do in Nepal.
Visit the Temples
- Pashupati – One the most visited Hindus pilgrimage destinations in the world. What to expect here ? Main shrine, other temples, monkeys, shops of worshiping materials and unique gifts for tourists, mass of worshipers on busy days, holly river Bagmati with shrines in upper part also, tall and beautiful tress are here. Beautiful paintings, activities of monks and sadhus includes. Sign up for a puja and visit the main temple with a guide; be patient for waiting in line to expect. Visiting Pashupati area is Inspiring– that’s just one word and experience for many is that of difficult to write in any language. People of all religion are welcome enter the main temple, perform pujas and visit all areas in Pashupati region.
- Bouddhanath Stupa: 36 meter tall, among the largest stupas in South Asia, is a home to Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. It is situated on the ancient trade route to Tibet (6km to the east of the city). For shopping, the area is a bazaar of Tibetan jewelry, hand made carpets, masks, kukuri knives (the knives used by Gorkhas) and Tibetan paintings known as thangkas. There are many stupas in the nearby surroundings all of which deserve a through observations by visitors.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
One can see artistic monuments, learn about the Kal Bhairam temple, red monkey god, and sex related wood carvings on temples. The Kastamandap rest house located within the Durbar Square is said to have been built from a single tree, it is because of this house, Kathmandu valley got its name. There is also a museum located at the Durbar Square which offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the history.
Visit Bhaktapur and Patan
These two cities offer ancient historical arts that can be seen in temples, monuments, stupas and building structures and also in shops where Nepalese stone and wood craftsmanship are at work. Cities reveal rich and unique art of the country. What could have been an artist’s years of work to keep it for the rest of the world to see, is now at a price–it can keep you busy for an hour or two in most temples where your curiosity grows and the more you observe the more you learn about life.
As artistic designs showing ancient culture and life style can be observed in temple structures, the art’s complexity increases from design to design, from temples to temples, and from layers to layers, please be prepare to get lost, lose your sense. Have a friend to tap you once in a while so you know where you are !
Bhaktapur – A city of treasures of architectural with ancient history with more than 20 temples are here from large to small, and with temple buildings showcasing ancient culture of Nepalese people. Those who have limited time, visit the National Art Gallery, and then of course you will wish to cancel your ticket– Visit these temples and areas or you’ve not visited Kathmandu at all :
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square – The ancient Royal Palace of the country, you can also enjoy the unique atmosphere of just being there outside, reading or just sitting there.
- Changu Narayan – a temple dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu, the god of creation, covers over sixteen hundred years of Nepalese art.
- Taumadhi Square – witness it’s own unique atmosphere such as ancient artifacts.
- Bhairavnath Temple – a unique 3 storied temple with ancient history
- and other temples includes Taleju Temple, Nyatapola Temple, and 55 Window Palace.
- Pottery Making – Witness traditional pot making business of locals here at the pottery square.
- Newari Culture – For a long day tour to learn everyday Newari lifestyle, visit the Timi Newari village in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is the city to visit to learn about Newari culture, language, and even try authentic Newari meals.
Patan – A 3 miles away from the Kathmandu city brings you to city known as the handicraft city of the valley. The ancient traditions of making handicraft items such as metal works, wood works can be seen here.. Patan is also known as having historical buildings, temples and monuments which you ought to see are the Patan Durbar Square, Ashoka Stupas, and the Patan Industrial area. While you are here, you will want to buy handicrafts of wood carvings, metal, and carpets and Tibetan paintings.
Kathmandu is also the city where you can see Himalayan Mountains by hiking up a bit from the valley, following mountains can be seen in the distance from the city.
- Mt. Everest 8848m – Chobutse 6660m – Takargo 6782m
- Himal Chuli 7893m – Manaslu 8156m – Ganesh II 7150m – Ganesh V 6950m
- Langtang 246m – Gang Chhenpo 6297m – Sisa Pangma 8013m
- Gur Karpori 6874m – Dorje Lhakpa 6790m – Phurbi Chyachu 6722m
- Kharane Tippa 5674m – Choba Bhamare 5970m – Choo-yu 8153m
- Gauri Shankar 7145m – Melungtse 7181m – Lindartsubugo 6690m
Most Popular Program
Most people like to tour Kathmandu the day after their arrival or a day or two before their departure. Day 1 Morning to Pashupati temple, to Bouddha temple after lunch there and return to hotel upon evening tour to Thamel. Day 2 – Next day early at Bhaktapur Durbar square, afternoon at Kathmandu Durbar Square and walk to see Ashan Open Market and Dinner at Durbarmarg and return to hotel and shopping at Thamel for gifts.
Once you arrive to Kathmandu, please rest to get used to your body’s clock if you are traveling from a long distance such as from the United States. Start with your tour to Thamel in the evenings, and remember to take it easy and If the noise or crowds are getting to you, back off–relax and get used to the city, this is very important if you are traveling first time or with children.
Notes & Facts
- Why Kathmandu is a valley ? – The entire Kathmandu was once a lake unable for anyone to live and a ruler named Bodhisattva Manjusri made a gorge making it the valley for settlers. One can see mountains completely surrounding the valley below.
- The city has a various references as Woodmando and most notable to ears by song Kathmando as heard from a English song, where do you want to go Catmando (as pronounced). Try to pronounce the city as Kath-Man-Dew, say the word Kath as you would say to a female name like in Kathy, and the last word do as in dew.
- Total population of Kathmandu is about 2 million.
- Kathmandu land is 218 square miles / 350 square kilometers
- More than 200 travel agents are located in Kathmandu.
Map of Kathmandu
this section is being added. stay tuned.
How to get there ?
The only International Airport of the country is Located in Kathmandu–for air travelers this is their entry point. The Tribhuwan airport is about 5 miles from the city area and in less than 20 minutes you can reach to major city areas like Thamel, Lazimpat, Durbarmarg and in less than 10 minutes to nearest places like Pashupati and Teenkune region. Getting to the city from the airport need no mention–tourist buses, cabs private and hotel operated are there for effortless transpiration.