The city of Kathmandu, popularly known as the City of Temples, is named after a Pagoda located in Durbar called Kaasthamandapa (in Sanskrit kāṣṭh (काष्ठ)” wood” and maṇḍapa (मण्डप)” covered shelter. This unique temple, also known as Maru Satal, was built in the Malla period in which the entire structure is made entirely from wood. The legend tells that the timber used in this two-story pagoda was obtained from a single tree. The history of Kathmandu dates back to as early as 300 BC, but the town was probably founded by King Gunakamadeva around the 10th century.
Kathmandu, also popularly known as Kantipur, is the capital city of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The city is part of a big valley surrounded by small mountains and hills. Kathmandu along with her sister cities Patan (Lalitpur, the city of beauty in Sanskrit) and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon – the city of rice in Nepali) is rich in ancient architecture, arts, cultures, and tradition.
These are the must-visit attractions in town:
- Pashupatinath is the most important Hindu Temple in Nepal and is set on the banks of the sacred river Bagmati. It is not only a religious destination, but a mix of art, culture, peace, and devotion. Hundreds of rituals are performed every day on its premises which are considered an open, living museum. In the age of mythology, Lord Shiva and his consort lived here by this tributary of the holy Ganges.
- Swayambhunath Stupa overlooks most parts of the Kathmandu valley, offering the visitors a panoramic view of the city, particularly enchanting at sunset. According to the legend, the hill on top of which the stupa rises, originated when the valley was created out of a primordial lake It is said that the great Emperor Ashoka visited this site more than 2,000 years ago.
- Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest stupas in the world and is the religious and cultural center of the broad community of Tibetan Refugees in Nepal. It is a holy place rich in Buddhist symbolism.
- Kathmandu Durbar Square is a historic place of royals where kings were crowned in the past. This durbar square is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites and reflects the royal history, religion, and culture. You can see the Taleju Bhawani, the tallest temple of Kathmandu Valley on the side of the palace built by King Ratna Malla. Inside Kathmandu Durbar you get to see the Kumari living goddess house, Hanuman Dhoka, and Jagannath Temple with erotic carvings. You will also get the chance to walk along the famous Freak Street, where during the 60s and 70s the hippies used to stay.
Top things to do in Kathmandu
- Mountain flight – Few other experiences come close to matching the feeling of going on a mountain flight to encounter the tallest mountains on this earth. Travelers take off from Kathmandu in the early morning for an hour’s worth of spectacular mountain scenery and everyone gets a window seat!
- Taste the street food – Skip the restaurants offering Westernized dishes and eat in the spots frequented by locals. Try delicious food like samosa, momos & lassi.
- Visit the Kingdoms of Patan & Bhaktapur –
- Patan - It was one of the independent kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, Patan is also the oldest existing Buddhist city in the Valley. Despite its proximity to the capital Kathmandu, its ‘preserved’ ancestral culture distinguishes Patan as a unique place to experience. Patan is also known as Lalitpur, the “City of Beauty”, and its unique Durbar Square is surrounded on all four sides by awe-inspiring temples and shrines.
- Bhaktapur is probably the most visited of the three historic cities of the Valley. It is a medieval town locked in centuries-old beliefs and traditions. The city is famous for its glorious architecture, sky-high temples, like the awesome Nyatapola Temple, Nepal’s tallest ancient structure, fine clay pottery, and royal courtyards where devotees, still today celebrate their pre-historic festivals.
- Nagarkot Sunrise View – The village of Nagarkot is the ideal place to have a breathtaking view of the peaks of the Himalayas. Nagarkot, about thirty kilometers from Kathmandu, situated at 2,175 meters above sea level, offers great mountain scenery and the most impressive views of sunrise and sunset.
- Shopping in Thamel – Immerse yourself in color and chaos.
- Rickshaw Tour through winding backstreets & bustling markets.