This post covers not to miss places in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. This is a city guide that will help you to plan the itinerary and guide you to explore this fascinating city.
The densely populated capital city of Nepal with a gorgeous Himalayan backdrop is the gateway to this Himalayan country that flaunts the Mount Everest. Nepal is beyond the high scaled mountains and Sherpas. Moreover, it is considered as a trekker’s paradise. Therefore, the tagline “Once is not enough” by Nepal Tourism makes perfect sense as you can’t absorb everything on your first visit.
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What not to miss in Kathmandu?
Whether it is the confusing narrow lanes of Thamel, rickshaws making their way through the narrow streets, the smell of street food, medieval temples, heritage Durbar squares, or the compelling views of the valleys surrounded by the rolling hills, Kathmandu offers everything that will give you a feel of this Hindu country.
In spite of the crowded alleyways, chaotic street scene of Thamel, the other side of Kathmandu has a very calming aura in itself.
Kathmandu offers numerous places to explore for discerning travelers. In addition, the capital city of Nepal has something for everyone. Whether you are a backpacker, solo traveler, luxury traveler, or a pilgrim, you will be overwhelmed by everything the city has to offer.
Thamel neighborhood is one of the top places to explore in Kathmandu. Tabitha Bahal was the earlier name of Thamel. This haphazard commercial hub is a busy and crowded place in the heart of the city. Thamel neighborhood is a not to be missed place in Kathmandu and highly recommended. Moreover, Thamel Neighbourhood is the best place to buy mountaineering gears for the trekker.
Thamel Neighbourhood is also considered as the best place to buy souvenirs, antiques, clothing, etc. The Thamel Neighbourhood flaunts some of the best bookstores, quirky cafes, restaurants, and hostels. Also, one should not miss the delicious street food on the streets of Thamel.
One of the must-visit places in Kathmandu is the famous Boudhanath Stupa. Built-in the 14th century, the Boudhanath Stupa is the largest Buddhist Stupa in Nepal. Moreover, it is considered as one of the most sacred places for Buddhists. The giant Buddha eyes on top of the Stupa and the colorful prayer flags make it a compelling frame. This place certainly should not be missed on your next visit.
The earthquake in 2015 hit the stupa, which was later restored and opened to visitors after eighteen months. Moreover, the Boudhanath Stupa is one of the iconic landmarks of Kathmandu city.
Located on a hilltop, the Swayambhunath Temple flaunts the imposing white stupa with the fascinating Buddha eyes and the shimmering golden spire. The Swayambhunath Temple is popularly known as the Monkey Temple. The holy shrine is one of the major landmarks of Kathmandu city. One of the most popular sites in the city, the Swayambhunath temple also offers spectacular views of the Kathmandu valley.
The name “Swayambhu”, means “Self-Created” and legends say that the religious site came into existence more than 2,000 years ago when the valley was created out of a primeval lake. The hanging colorful prayer flags over the stupas make for an absolutely stunning sight. The Swayambhunath Temple certainly is one of the top tourist sites in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
One of the most prominent landmarks of the capital city of Nepal is Kathmandu Durbar Square. Located in the heart of the old town, the Durbar square is a place with historical importance. It is the same place where the King was crowned and legitimated. The King’s palace is right there, from where he used to rule the country.
Also known as Hanuman Dhoka, the Kathmandu Durbar Square is a “UNESCO World Heritage Site”. The Pagoda styled temples and palace, dating back to the period from the 15th to 18th Century, were badly hit by a devastating earthquake in 2015.
In spite of the damage done by the devastating earthquake, the Kathmandu Durbar Square still attracts thousands of tourists each year. One can see The tilted temples, cracked pillars, and the debris at Kathmandu Durbar Square. Some of the ruins are kept as it is. It is a reminder of the horrific and devasting earthquake that had changed a lot of things forever.
When in Kathmandu, one shouldn’t miss visiting the sacred Pashupati Temple, located on the banks of the Bagmati River. The Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most important religious sites for Hindu pilgrims. Built-in the 5th century and later renovated by the Malla Kings, the main temple complex is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is restricted to Hindus only.
The temple complex is quite a large area filled with painted Sadhus in each corner. What I found intriguing was the open cremation area on the bank of Bagmati River. I found it quite disturbing since the last rites and the rituals of cremation ceremonies are openly performed and witnessed by tourists.
However, the aura of the Pashupati Temple complex has a strong impact on the devotees.
Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit this sacred place in Kathmandu daily. Don’t get fooled by those painted saints in the temple complex. Moreover, they demand money if you wish to click them. So, be a little cautious there.
If there is any place that swept me off my feet in Kathmandu, then it has to be Patan. Located 5 km south of the capital city, Patan is a heritage site and should not be missed. Traditionally known as Lalitpur (City Of Beauty), Patan is nothing less than an architectural treasure.
Patan is the oldest town in the valley, flaunting the finest collection of temples, palaces, and monuments.The intricate details of the Newari Architectures, the large courtyard of the palace, the wood and stone carvings in the temples are simply jaw-dropping. The Durbar Square of Patan is a place buzzing with locals and tourists all the time.
The city of Lalitpur is surrounded by four Stupas that were built by Emperor Ashoka. The locals also call Patan by its Newari name, Yala. If you are a history buff and an architecture lover, Patan should be high on your list. This is one of the top tourist attractions in Kathmandu.
Located 28 km from Kathmandu, Nagarkot is one of the top places for nature lovers. The serene beauty of the place is quite captivating. Especially, one should not miss the spectacular sunset and sunrise views of Mount Everest there. This pretty hill station around Kathmandu is one of the popular tourist places, especially for those who love to spend some time admiring the breath-taking mountain views. The best thing about Nagarkot is that one can see 8 mountain peaks from this quaint place.
The striking views of sunrise and sunset are the inviting factor for travelers to this town. The best time to get a clear sky with majestic Himalayan peaks is from October to December and March to April.
Moreover, there is no dearth of hotels and homestays in Nagarkot which makes it easy for travelers to include it on their list. As a result, Nagarkot has become one of the prominent destinations for day trips. However, most of the travelers prefer Nagarkot for their Himalayan holiday.
If you an admirer of heritage sites, love architectural treasure, and a history buff, a visit to Bhaktapur is a must. Bhaktapur takes you back to the medieval period and gives you a glimpse of the bygone era and how life must have been during that time.
The pagoda-style Temples and Durbar Square date back to the 12th century. The intricate details, minute wood carving, layered Pogoda, shouts loud about the great Malla rulers who celebrated art as no other dynasty did in Nepal. You get the feel of a living museum while strolling around the narrow alleyways which are carefree zones.
The best part of Bhaktapur is that one can see the traditional way of life here, with women wearing traditional attire, following age-old rituals, and people sitting ideally in the rest houses in the morning and evening. One can witness the traditional Newari lifestyle vividly there.
Don’t miss the festival celebration at Bhaktapur. People celebrate each festival elaborately with great zest there. One of the most popular festivals named Bisket Jatra celebrated around the Nepali New Year, is a major attraction of Bhaktapur. As a result, Bhaktapur sees a huge flow of locals and tourists during the festival.
Apart from this, don’t miss the pottery Square at Bhaktapur. One can also enjoy the traditional Newari cuisine at restaurants. Don’t forget to buy souvenirs from here. Bhaktapur is certainly one place which should not be missed in Kathmandu valley.
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