Kathmandu, What to Do?

Kathmandu

This historical city is the capital of Nepal. You can reach Kathmandu early morning if you take an overnight bus from the border. It’s the best place to understand the Nepali culture and history. Staying here for three or four days will be enough to visit all the important monuments here. People usually live here for weeks or months as the expense is much lower compared to India for foreigners.

The best place to live in Kathmandu is Thamel, a small place in the outskirts of Kathmandu. This place is preferred by the tourists as all kind of accommodations from backpacker hostels to luxurious hotels are available in Tamel. Also, everything you need from packed food to mountaineering goods are available in Thamel, probably just outside the hotel you choose to live in.

JIt’s better to go door to door and choose a hotel of your preference in Thamel. People who are not good at bargaining and wants things to be hustle free, can book rooms online, probably through Bookings.com.

Places to visit in Kathmandu :

1. Swayambhunath

It is the most famous and important Buddhist place of worship in Nepal. The huge stupa or white dome with a golden pole on top of it painted with eyes of Buddha on all sides, over looking the Kathmandu valley is believed to be the protector of the valley. The small hill top on which the stupa stands is accessible through a steep rock steps or a motorable road from the bottom of the hill. Prayer wheels and colourful prayer flags are placed all around the hill.

A lot of small stupas and shrines can be found around the hill. There is a small Saraswathi temple also nearby. A panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley can be seen from the top of the hill behind the stupa. The place is only 3 kms away from the Kathmandu centre and lot of share taxis and buses run from Kathmandu and Thamel to this temple.

2. Pashupatinath

The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the largest temple complex in Nepal. This temple is very important among the people of Nepal especially the people of Kathmandu and for the Nepali Royal family as Nepal being a Hindu nation formerly.

This beautiful temple is situated on the bank of Bagmathi river close to the Kathmandu city centre. The temple is only 3kms away and regular buses are available from both Kathmandu city centre and Thamel.

The ritual cremation of dead bodies on the banks of Bagmathi river can be witnessed behind the temple complex. One can walk across the river through a bridge nearby, get to the other side and watch the cremation. In the evenings one can witness the Bagmathi Aarati performed by priests, which is a ritual of offering butter lamps to the river which is believed to be holy. This attracts a lot of devotees and tourists.

3. Boudhnath

Another magnificent Buddhist stupa in Kathmandu. It is much similar to the Swyambhunath stupa, with a circular dome and golden pole with eyes painted on it. The stupa is made in the form of a mandala and people circumnavigate this stupa. There are numerous other small stupas and temples around this complex. The place is a UNESCO world heritage site.

A lot of Tibetan refugees stay here as this stupa was a resting place for the Tibetan merchants who used to trade with Nepal for centuries. The place is very beautiful during morning and evenings and attracts a lot of tourists. It is situated 10 kms away from Kathmandu city centre and buses or share taxis are available from city centre or Thamel to this temple.

4. Darbar Square

The Basantapur Darbar Square is one of the many attractions in Kathmandu. It is the palace complex of the former royal kingdom of Nepal. The complex consists of Palaces, temples and museums. The buildings here are with elaborate art and crafts. Most of the structures were damaged during the 2015 earthquake and yet to be repaired.

The compound is filled with pigeons all the time and there are heritage walks carried out inside the complex by registered guides explaining the importance and history of structures and the place. You have to get an entry ticket to visit the palace and museum although the darbar square can be accessed through the streets without any tickets.

5. Garden of Dreams

It is a small garden close to Thamel at a walkable distance if you are staying in Thamel. This was a private garden complex created by a former army chief to the Nepal kingdom. The garden was taken over by the government and restored after the owner’s demise.

There is a small cafe running inside the garden. It is good for photo shoots and to spend some time peacefully from the busy streets of Thamel.

6. Budhanilakantha Temple

The 5 meter long monolith sculpture of Lord Vishu, the largest in Nepal is worshipped in an open temple. The idol is placed in a pond and a priest stands close to the idol to offer your prayers and give Prasada. The myth regarding this idol is that, it was found by a farmer while ploughing his field, it is believed to be from the 5th century.

The place is only around 10 kms from Kathmandu. Lots of buses and shared taxis run from Thamel and central Kathmandu to this temple. The reclining Vishnu idol on top of the serpent also known as Ananthasayana placed in a water body is one of a kind in the world. It hardly takes 2 hours to visit this place and return to city. Visit this place if you finished all the other places in Kathmandu listed above.