Tourist Attractions in Nepal

Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is indeed a unique type of valley, wearing an exotic setting. Twenty-five centuries back it stood as a large lake. It is completely surrounded by a tier of green mountain walls above which to the north tower the mighty snowcapped peaks during the winter. It consists of four major cities carrying great historic, artistic and cultural interest.

They include Kathmandu, Patan, Bhadgaon and Kirtipur. Ironically speaking, Kathmandu Valley was an empire containing four petty kingdoms till the 17th century. The four kingdoms of Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktappur and Kiritipur have today appeared as independent modern cities. The Valley with an approximate population of million and a half (i.e. counting the Tibetans and the Indians as well) covers an area of 218 square miles and is situated at an elevation of 4,423 feet above the sea-level as part of the Shangrila.

Kathmandu (Kantipur) - the Capital

Karunamaya Temple:
It is a Buddhist pagoda of considerable artistic beauty located in a holy courtyard called Jan Bahal, which is full of stupas and statues nearby Indra-Chowk. It consists of a two tiered bronze roof built by King Yakshta Malla in 1502 A.D. This authentic temple is surrounded by residential houses and busy shops. The chariot festival of White Karunamaya-the "God of Mercy" is annually celebrated in Kathmandu Valley.

Akash Bhairab Temple:
Also referred to as the Blue Bhairab sometimes, it is a three-storeyed temple in the principal market called Indra Chowk. The divine image of the Akash Bhairab is displayed outside for a week -long period during the great festival of Indra Jatra. The celebration of Indra Jatra honors Indra- the King of Heaven and the God of Rain.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Hanuman Dhoka:
This falls to be the historic seat of the past royalty, particularly belonging to the Malla dynasty. The Durbar Square, which is itself the old Royal Palace Complex dedicated to the Malla monarchs, is today classified as a World Heritage Site. The age-old temples and palaces epitomize the religious and cultural life-style of the people. The interesting things to view include Taleju Temple built by late King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D., a gigantic stone figure exposing the fearful manifestation of the Black Bhairab which the Hindus regard as the God of Destruction, the tall stone pillar on the plinth-top of which sits late King Pratap Malla his four children at the four small corners, the colossal image of the White Bhairab the lattice of which is removed for a week during the Kumari Yatra festival, the nine-storeyed Basantapur Palace (literally meaning the spring season palace), the Great Bell and the Great Drums. The main golden-gate is guarded by the Monkey-God called Hanuman. He is the king of the Monkeys and faithful servant to Lord Ram Chandra-the Hero of the Epic "Ramayan." Being guarded by a sole protector, the gate itself has come to be known as Hanuman Gate. With a
commercial umbrella suspended above his head and wrapped in a scarlet cloak, he squats on a stone plinth to be respected by hundreds of Nepalese Hindus plus Indian Hindus.

Temple of Kumari:
The temple and the holy quadrangle with a Buddhist stupa at the center form the residential quarters of the Chaste Virgin Living Goddess called KUMARI. The traditional building has profusely carved wooden balconies and widow screens. The non-Buddhist ant the non-Hindu visitors may enter the courtyard called the 'bahal' but may not proceed beyond upstairs. The KUMARI acknowledges their greetings from the middle window of the balcony particularly saved for her alone and snapshot is strictly prohibited.

Kastha Mandap:
Located nearby the Temple of Kumari, this is a unique type of wooden temple also known as Maru Satal. It was built in 1596 A.D. by King Laxmi Narsingh Malla. They say the timber used for its relevant construction was sawed out of a single tree. It is also believed that the capital of Kathmandu derived its new name from this very 'Kastha Mandap.' Today it housed the Hindu God namely Gorakh-Nath.

National Museum:
Situated two and a half kilometers west of Kathmandu City, the National Museum has a splendid collection of arms, artifacts, statues, etc. from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. Its archaeological and historical displays are real worth-seeing. Unfortunately the museum remains closed on Tuesdays.

Singha Durbar:
Literally meaning Lion Palace, it is a grand imposing palace built on the neo-classical style surrounded by a colossal compound. It was built by His Excellency Maharaja Chandra Shamsher S.J.B. Rana- the 5th Rana Prime Minister. It once stood as the private residence of the Rana Premiers till 1950 but now remains the Secretariat Building of His majesty's Government.

The Parliament (including the Upper House and the Lower House), the Radio Station, the Television Station, etc. are all located in the very premises.

Martyr's Memorial:
This is located on the way to Singha Durbar. The memorial arch contains the effigies of four political leaders who were mercilessly martyred in 1940.

Two were hung and two were shot. They include Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Shukra Raj Joshy, Dashrath Chand and Ganga Lal Shrestha. The fatherly statue of late King Tribhuwan Bir Bikram Shah Deb appears high in the middle. Late King Tribhuwan is solely held responsible to lead the Historical revolution of 1950- 51 for laying the foundation of today's democratic system, virtually replacing the cruel family autocracy of the Ranas.

Bhimsen Tower:
Also known as Dharahara to the local people, it is a 165 feet tall tower built by Premier Bhimsen Thapa in 1932. One fetches a panoramic view of the whole valley of Kathmandu from the top of the tower. However it is not open for the general public today as the structure is getting old and in he weakening stage.

Narayanhiti Royal Palace:
This is the current Royal Palace where the Himalayan Monarch of the Shah dynasty resides. It is built on a site of a much older one and owns a colossal compound. During the reign of late King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, the father of the present king, the main gat was facing west. Today the main gate eventually faces south. His Majesty the late king Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev coroneted in 1975 is fifty and Her Majesty the late Queen Aishwarya Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah is forty -six. They had three children two sons and one daughter. Thus the royal family contains five sovereign members in all. Special permission has to be gotten to enter the
palace premises on days of privilege.

Pashupati Nath Temple:
It is pagoda style Hindu temple with gilt roofing and richly carved silver doors dedicated to Lord Shiva and is situated at the bank of the holy Bagmati River. One of the most sacred temples in the entire Hindu world, Pashupati Nath Temple is the nerve center of pilgrimage on the day of shibaratri. The minute religious town itself which houses the great temple is known as Debpatan and is situated 5 kilometers east of the capital city. Only Hindus are permitted to enter the main courtyard of the temple. Alien tourists can view the temple from the eastern side of the Bagmati River.

Guheshwori Temple:
On a forested knoll, further behind Pashupati Temple to the eastern direction and also by the side of the bending or winding Bagmati River appears the gracious temple of Guheshwori sometimes known as Nairatma Yogini or Aksah Yogini. It is another famous spot of Hindu pilgrimage. It houses the shrine of Goddess Parbati who is lord Shiba's spouse. In this case, also, only Hindus are authorized to enter the premises.

Swoyambhu Shrine:
This is believed to be 25 centuries old and stands as one of the world's oldest Buddhist Chaityas. The Great Stupa of Swyambhu is the wonder that was Nepal, the glory that was Nepal. It is indeed listed a World Heritage for Site to prove that it serves as the nerve center of faithful worship for all the devout philosophy of Bajrayan in particular and honors Lord Adi Buddha.
It is dedicated to the self - originating flame God. The stupa, which forms the salient structure, is well composed of a solid hemisphere of terra - cotta bricks and soil supporting a cornice of copper and gilt. Painted on the four -sided based by of the spiral are the all seeing eyes of lord Buddha, keeping an eternal watch on the Valley distinguishing between vice and virtue. It is some two miles west of Kathmandu City proper across the holy Bishnumati River. Situated on the top of a hillock, it is about 500 feet above the level of the Valley. The whole hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and pagoda temples possessing great five Mahayan (Lamaism) and one Hinyan (Therbadist). On the hind hill is located another important Buddhist shrine; it is called Manjushree. This Chinese Buddha is the God of Knowledge.

Kimdol Monastery:
Situated within Ward No. 15 of Kathmandu City adjacent to Swayamvu Hill is another famous Buddhist monastery called Kimdol. It is a small town itself full of Buddhist citizens. Kimdol resumes a hillock atop which sits a Buddhist embracing the two major aspects of Buddhism including Mahayan (Lamaism) and Hinyan (Therbad). Apart form that we find numerous stupas, chaityas and chhortens scattered around. Prayer-flags with printed Tibetan characters and holy diagrams flutter many terraces and rooftops. Kimdol bahal is believed to be the location whence the Hinyan (Therbad) from of Buddhism highly developed. Today only nunnery of the saffron robe is practiced here; monk hood has eventually shifted elsewhere. The bahal restricts the consumption of liquors of any kind (strong or mild), tobacco, meat, fish, egg and even garlic for all visiting the monastery. The spectacular view of old Kathmandu, i.e. Kantipur, can be clearly fetched form Kimdol height.

Bouddha Nath Stupa:
This is declared to stand as the largest Buddhist shrine of South Asia. The ancient colossal chhorten was built in the 6th century A.D. by King Man Deb.

It rests on a series of three terraces and from the bird's eye view it takes the relevant shape or of a lotus flower which indeed remains a very holy object for all the devout Buddhists of the world. The chhorten is surrounded by a circular market, which forms a part of Tibet town. In this case, also the four pairs of the Buddha's eyes give a vivid flash to the four cardinal directions, meaning to keep a diligent watch over the people and their commitments all day all night. The chhorten embraces the authentic philosophy of Mahayan the faith of which is known as Lamaism in Sikkim, Ladakh, Bhutan and Tibet.

Budhanilkantha:
Situated in the northern suburbs of the Valley just at the foot of Mt. Shibapur, this is an enchanting Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Bishnu Narayan. So the locality is also known as Narayanthan. He lies in a bed of serpents amidst the pious pool and seems to float on water. The surrounding pond actually represents the sea. The reclining statue was built in the 5th century A.D.The season of religious celebration here takes place right after the festival of Tihar. Although it is a renowned spot of worship, the reigning king of Nepal (may it be contemporary or any Hindu monarch) may not visit this place for reasons particularly unknown. Thus to please the king a replica of it has been built elsewhere if he wishes to visit it much.

Balaju Water Garden:
This is an interesting large compound sitting at the foot of Mount Nagarjun in the northeast corner of the Valley. Its premises include numerous worthy items. The important ones are the Twenty-Two Water Spouts, the replica image of Lord Buddhanilkantha, the Olympic size swimming pool, etc. Among all the attractions, the major one stands as the Twenty-Two Water Spouts and the whole compound uphill and downhill itself makes an enchanting picnic-spot for holiday-makers. It is here that the stone statue of Lord Bishnu Narayan, an imitation of the genuine previous one at Buddhanilkantha, exists in order for the Nepalese monarch to pay decent homage. The annual festival is celebrated on a full-moon day of the spring season. It is a merry day when many Nepalese Buddhists and Tibetan Buddhists hike up to the summit of Jamacho the starting point being Balaju or Lhuti. A jeepable road does lead to the top of Mount Nagarjun. This precise full-moon is known as 'Lhuti Punhi."

Sundarijal:
At the northeastern edge of the Valley, the cool streams the eventually join the holy Bagmati River flow over the waterfalls at Sundarijal into a hundred year -old reservoir. This titanic reservoir was built during the time of the Ranas. Sundarijal is fifteen kilometers away form Kathmandu City and is also the starting point for the popular trek to Helambu- the nearest Sherpa village. The main reservoir which supplies drinking water to the valley is roughly and hour walk uphill form here. A tinier trail forks off before the reservoir to a small rock cave, where a thirteenth century image of Mahadevi (the great Goddess) can be found. It is a pleasant bike ride along the quite roads past Gokarna. The long valley-rim walk, a minor trek that is, from Sundarijal to Nagarkot or vice-versa is suggestive to every enthusiastic trekker.

Sankhu:
This is a peaceful small town the old name of which goes Shankharpur according to classical Sanskrit. The current name as referred by the local citizens goes Sakwo as well. It is situated at the northeastern corner of the valley and served to bet the exit point to Lhasa of Tibet in the earlier days.

Dhulikhel
Dhulikhel, at 1550m, is a popular, interesting small town to view the Himalayan. There are some beautiful old buildings in this town. The main place to view the mountains is the parade ground on the ridge a little east of the center of town.

There are some good day walks in the area. Many people come here to get warmed up before doing a longer trek. The people in the village are Newars. In the main square there is the Harisiddhi Temple and Narayan Temple, both Vishnu temples.

The most popular place to watch the sunrise over the mountains is at the Kali Temple on top of the hill in the southeast. You walk to the Panorama View Lodge and keep walking another half-hour. Ridi Bazaar. Bhagwati Mandir, in the northwest part of town, is a high point in the city and from where there are good views of the mountains.

Nagarkot

Nagarkot, located 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu, is one of the most scenic spots in Bhaktapur district and is renowned for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalaya when the weather is clear. Visitors often travel to Nagarkot from Kathmandu to spend the night so that they can be there for the breathtaking sunrise. Nagarkot has become famous as one of the best spots to view Mount Everest as well as other snow-topped peaks of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal . It also offers an excellent view of the Indrawati river valley to the east. With an elevation of 2,195 meters, Nagarkot also offers a panoramic view of the Valley and is described by visitors as a place whose beauty endures year round.

Many visitors prefer to visit Nagarkot in the spring when surrounding valleys break out in a rich kaleidoscope of different coloured flowers. The flowers are beautiful against the serene backdrop of the snow-covered mountains. Ever popular among the tourists are the short treks and picnics which Nagarkot offers. Treks from Nagarkot are unique and delightful. For anyone who wants to have an adventure without exerting much efforts, a hike to Nagarkot's surrounding areas would be a good option. One can traverse short distances on trekking trails and come close to nature's wonders such as the outer of verdant forests, flower-covered meadows and unusual rock formations.

Namo Buddha

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 priced 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 Dhullikhel or Panauti from Kathmandu then hike up to Namo Buddha.

Janakpur

Named after the legendary King Janak, Janakpur was the capital of the ancient Indian Kingdom Mithila, the native country of goddess Sita, the wife of the Hindu god Rama and the heroine of the great Hindu epic Ramayana. Today Janakpur stands as the most cleanest and interesting place among all the towns of Terai.

Janakpur has become a great piligrimage site for Hindus today. The most sacred sites are the Janaki Mandir, dedicated to goddess Sita, the Ram Sita bibaha(marriage) mandir, built over the spot where Ram and Sita were said to be married, Ram Mandir , dedicated to god Ram and the holy pond Dhanush Sagar. Hundreds of Indian devotees come here every year to pay their respect to the goddess at this temple.

Besides the religious importance, Janakpur is also the center for the revival of the ancient Mithila art and craft. As a tradition, Mithila women have always been decorating the walls of their houses with paintings depicting figures from Hindu mythology in abstract forms, sometimes resembling a mandala.

Lumbini

Lumbini is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas in modern Nepal . In the Buddha's time, Lumbini was a beautiful garden full of green and shady Sal trees (Shorea). The garden and its tranquil environs were owned by both the Shakyas and Kolias clans. King Suddhodana, father of Gautama Buddha was of the Shakya dynasty belonging to the Kshatriya or the warrior caste. Maya Devi, his mother, gave birth to the child on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha while taking rest in Lumbini under a sal tree in the month of May in the year 642 B.C. The beauty of Lumbini is described in Pali and Sanskrit literature. Maya Devi it is said was spellbound to see the natural grandeur of Lumbini. While she was standing, she felt labor pains and catching hold of a drooping branch of a Sal tree, the baby, the future Buddha, was born.

The bas relief above depicts Maya Devi with her right hand holding on to a branch of a sal tree with a newborn child standing upright on a lotus petal, shedding an oval halo, around his head, while two celestial figures pour water and lotuses from vessels of heaven as indicated by the delineation of clouds. This nativity scene was installed by Malla Kings of the Naga dynasty from about the 11th to 15th Century in the Karnali zone of Nepal .

In 249 BC, when the Emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini it was a flourishing village. Ashoka constructed four stupas and a stone pillar with a figure of a horse on top. The stone pillar bears an inscription which, in English translation, runs as follows: "King Piyadasi (Ashoka), beloved of devas, in the 20 year of the coronation, himself made a royal visit, Buddha Sakyamuni having been born here, a stone railing was built and a stone pillar erected to the Bhagavan having been born here, Lumbini village was taxed reduced and entitled to the eight part (only)".

Maya Devi Temple

Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. In 1895, Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the great pillar while wandering about the foothills of the Churia range. Further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and a sandstone sculpture within the temple itself which depicts the scenes of the Buddha's birth.

It is pointed out by scholars that the temple of Maya Devi was constructed over the foundations of more than one earlier temple or stupa, and that this temple was probably built on an Ashokan stupa itself. On the south of the Maya Devi temple there is the famous sacred bathing pool known as Puskarni. It is believed that Maha Devi took a bath in this pool before the delivery. By the side of the Ashoka pillar there is a river which flows southeast and is locally called the 'Ol' river. In 1996, an archaeological dig unearthed a "flawless stone" placed there by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC to mark the precise location of the Buddha's birth more than 2,600 years ago, if authenticated, the find will put Lumbini even more prominently on the map for millions of religious pilgrims.

Recently, several beautiful shrines have been built by devotees from Buddhist countries. A visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is not only for spiritual enlightenment but also for solace and satisfaction that one gets in such a calm and peaceful place.

Tansen (Palpa)

In the past Tansen was on the trade route between the plains and the hills. Tansen is between Pokhara (5 hr, 110km) and Sunauli/Bhairawa (2 hr, 55 km), just off the Siddhartha Highway, and is a pleasant place to stop on the way between the two places. It is the administrative center for the area. It is known for metalware and dhaka, the material made into the Nepali topis hats. Not many visitors come here. It is also known as Palpa and Tansing, the original Magar name.

There are great views of the Madi Valley from town. There are some interesting walks in the area. It is a good two hours walk to the Kali Gandaki River and the large, deserted Ranighat Palace. From the close by hill call Srinagar Danda, there are excellent views of the Himalaya Mountains.

Most of the people in Tansen are Newars who mainly migrated in the 19th century when trade opportunities opened up here. Most of the people in the surrounding area are Magars and there are also Chhetris and Bahuns.