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Highlights of Sightseeing places

The old city of Kathmandu is located on a bluff at the confluence of the Bagmati and Vishnumati Rivers – an easily defended site with rich soil and a plentiful water supply.

KATHMANDU

Durbar Square
Kathmandu’s number one tourist attraction swarms with life. Though a few of the square’s 50-plus monuments date from the 12th century, most are from the time of the Malla Kings. Probably the most famous building here is the Kumari Bahal, a building richly decorated with beautiful woodcarvings, which is home to the Royal Kumari, the Living Goddess, a manifestation of the great goddess Durga. Nearby the former Royal Palace is a Malla Dynasty dwelling, once considerably more extensive than today. Within, the courtyard Nassal Chowk, originally hosted dramatic dance performances, now it is the coronation site of the Shah kings and contains some of the finest wood carvings you will see anywhere in the country.

The 14th century Jagannath Mandir is the oldest temple in the area. Its steps are carved with inscriptions in many languages. Nearby the Talaju Mandir is one of the largest and finest temples in the Valley. It is dedicated to the patron deity of the royal family, Taleju Bhawani, a wrathful form of Durga who once demanded human sacrifices.

Hanuman Dhoka
Duly recognized as a world Heritage site by UNESCO this particular area best known as Kathmandu Durbar Square lies in the heart of this city. The Durbar Square, with its old palaces and temples, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here the Kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Interesting things to see are:
- Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.
- Gigantic figure of Kal Bhairav, the God of Destruction.
- Basantapur Durbar or Nautalle Durbar
- Coronation Platform (Nasal Chok)
- The hall of Public Audience (Gaddi Baithak)
- The Big Bell
- Big Drums
- The Jagannath temple.

Kumari ( The Living Goddess):
Kumari the only living Goddess in Nepal resides in her abode at the Kumari Bahal located at the Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Kasthamandap:
It lies near the temple of Kumari. It is said to have been built by King Laxmi Narsingha Malla in the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is said to be constructed from the wood of the single tree. It houses the beautiful images of four Vinayaks (Surya Vinayak, Chandra Vinayak, Jal Vinayak and Karna Vinayak) of the Kathmandu valley.

Budhanilkantha:
Jalasaya Narayan popularly known as Budhanilkatha about 12 km north of Kathmandu, at the Shivapuri foothills is the largest Vishnu lying on a coiled five headed serpent carved in a single stone. Jalasaya Narayan is Lord Vishnu for Vaisnavas, Lord Shiva for Shivas, and Lord Buddha for Buddhists. This outstanding artwork of Lichhavi sculptures dates back to some 1500 years.

Kriripur
It is a small town, eight kilometers southwest of Kathmandu on the top of a hill. This historic town has many things to offer like old shrines and temples, old houses, the people typically dressed in old traditional costumes, people working on ancient looms, etc.

Dakshinkali
Dakshinkali is one of the very important places of pilgrimage regarding Hindu goddess, which dates back to immemorial. Pilgrims visit this temple to offer their prayers and animal sacrifices to the goddess. Apart from the religious performance this place has also been developed as a popular picnic spot.

Swayambhunath
This great temple is just on the outskirts of Kathmandu. No one actually knows who built it. Many believe that the Lichavis constructed it while others believe that emperor Asoka had already visited it in the 3rd century.  The Swayambhunath complex consists of a giant Stupa, a large ensemble of shrines and temples, and also includes a Tibetan monastery, a museum and a library. This site has two access points: a long stairway, claimed to have 365 steps, leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the southwest entrance. The first sight on reaching the top of the stairway is the Vajra.

Pashupatinath
This is Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the subcontinent’s great Shiva sites. The supreme holiness of the site stems from the Shiva linga enshrined in its main temple. It expresses the very essence of Hinduism as pilgrims, priests, devotes, temples, ashrams, images, inscriptions and cremation ghats intermingle with the rituals of daily life, all sprawled along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple’s origins are obscure. An inscription here dates from 477 AD, but the shrine may have stood there for 1000 years before that

Boudhanath
This great stupa is one of Nepal’s most distinctive monuments and one of the most important Buddhist sites in Nepal. With a diameter of over 100 meters, it is amongst the largest stupas in the world. There are a number of legends accounting for the stupa’s construction, but it is generally believed to date from the 5th century. All stupas contain holy relics and Boudha is said to contain the remains of the past Buddha Kasyapa.
Boudha is a particular focus for Kathmandu’s Tibetan community and throughout the day there is a constant stream of people circling the stupa spinning prayer wheels and reciting mantras. Surrounding the stupa are six major monasteries and a host of smaller ones as well as cafes, restaurants and shops selling Tibetan carpets and Newari silverware.

PATAN

This ancient city, once a kingdom itself, is situated across the Bagmati River to the south of Kathmandu. Approximately 80% of the inhabitants are Newars and they fiercely retain their identity which is different from that of Kathmandu. Patan’s origins are shrouded in mystery. It claims its place as capital of the Kiranti Dynasty and association with the great Indian emperor, Ashoka, who is credited with the building of the 4 grass-covered stupas surrounding the city. For many centuries, Patan’s importance was eclipsed by that of Kathmandu and by the 7th century it was one of the major Buddhist centers of Asia attracting pilgrims, scholars and monks from India, Tibet and China. Medieval Patan was the largest and most prosperous of the three Valley kingdoms. It was annexed to Kathmandu in the late 6th century and most of its magnificent architecture dates to the late Malla era (16th-18th centuries).

Patan Durbar Square
Patan’s Durbar Square offers the finest display of Newari urban architecture in Nepal. There are temples devoted to Shiva, Krishna, Ganesh and Vishnu all actively visited by residents and visitors. At the northern end of the square the ancient sunken water tap has been restored and is still in use with young girls filling huge jugs from the carved stone waterspouts. The courtyards of the Royal Palace with their ornamented windows, columned arcades, shrines and sunken royal bath are amongst the most beautiful in all of Kathmandu valley.

Back streets
Old Patan comprises a small area with individual neighborhoods dedicated to metalworking, stone carving, and woodwork as well as some old temples. One of the grandest is the Kwa Bahal or ‘Golden Temple’, a lavish, gilt-roofed shrine – the main façade covered in gilt and silver, the whole temple is surrounded by images of real and mythical beasts, and scenes from Buddha’s life.

Mahaboudha
The Buddhist temple in terracotta structure made of clay bricks in which thousands of images of Lord Buddha are engraved. 

Hiranaya Varna Mandir
This three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwor(Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century.

Tibetan Center
It is a place where one can see the spinning, dying and weaving of Tibetan carpets.

Patan Industrial Estate
Patan Industrial Estate is well known for Nepali handicrafts such as woodcarving. Metal crafts, carpets, thanka paintings, and the likes.

BHAKTAPUR

Once the capital of the Valley, Bhaktapur is the most unchanged of the three cities. Retaining something of its medieval atmosphere, Bhaktapur embodies the essence of the Newari city. Despite frequent rebuilding as the result of earthquakes, the city’s architecture and organization remain an excellent example of town planning. Neighborhoods, roughly organized by caste, are centered on a main square with a public water source, temples and a Ganesh shrine. In the 12th century, the King of Banepa moved his capital here and it ruled a unified Valley for the next 3 centuries. It was the last of the cities to fall to Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768 and since then its importance has diminished considerably.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Much of Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square was destroyed in the 1934 earthquake and appears much emptier than those of Kathmandu or Patan. Amongst its many attractions are substitute shrines for the four great Indian pilgrimage sites and the Golden Gate. This is the most famous piece of art in all Nepal, an exquisite monument of gilded metalwork constructed in 1753.

Potter’s Square
It is the neighborhood of the potter caste, where hundreds of clay vessels are set to dry in the sun before being fired in makeshift kilns. Families work in the open producing tiny oil lamps, teacups, bowls, vases and water jugs.

Taumadhi Tol
This square is more important to the locals and more intimately tied to daily life and festivals than Durbar Square. It is dominated by the 5-roofed, 30-meter high Nyatapola Temple, the tallest in Nepal.

Main Bazaar
This brick paved street and its offshoot alleys reveals the heart of Bhaktapur as life spills into the street – women do the laundry,
children play, old men squat in doorways for a chat and shopkeepers sell all the necessities of daily life.

Tachapal Tol
This is the original town center dating from 8th century. Many of the pilgrim rest houses and those that sheltered ascetics have become private dwellings and others remain full-fledged temples. The famous ‘Peacock Window’ is down an alley off the square.

Phulchwoki
Located around ten kilometers southeast of Patan, this mountain, 2759m high, is a good spot for hiking. Rhododendrons of different varieties and colors from pure white to dark red are found here. A Buddhist shrine is situated on top of the hill, which can be reached through the jeepable road.

Nyatapola Temple
This five-storey pagoda was built in 1702 A.D. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structure and the subtle workshop. This temple was built for goddess Laxmi.

Bhairavnath Temple
This temple was built as a one-storey pagoda which is dedicated to Lord Bhairav – the god of Terror.

Surya Vinayak
It is a shrine of Ganesh; the elephant headed God, situated in a beautiful surrounding of Bhadgaon, placed in a sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. 

Changu Narayan
It is said to have been built in 323 A.D by King Hari Dutta Varma. It is said to be the oldest temple in the Valley.

Outside the Valley

BANDIPUR
Bandipur is a charming hill town midway between Kathmandu and Pokhara.It is an ancient trading post inhabited by Magars (the original inhabitants of the area) and Newars. Nestled in the hills Bandipur offers excellent opportunities for day hikes or relaxation enjoying the panoramic mountain vistas. Untouched by modernization and laced with an abundance of ancient houses, temples of great significance, and historical architecture, this medieval-era town boasts of festivals all year around. Neighboring Magar, Gurung, Bahun, Chhetri, Damai and Sarki villages all contribute to the cultural diversity of the region. The hilltop town not only overlooks the incredible expanse of the Marsyanngdi river valley, but also offers a breathtaking sweep of the Himalayan range from Langtang in the east to Dhaulagiri in the west. From nearby hilltops, one can see as far as Manakamana and Gorkha to the east to the great Chitwan plains to the south.

DAMAN
The tiny ridge-top village of Daman offers some of the best Himalayan views in Nepal – a panorama from Dhaulagiri to Kanchenjunga, including all five Annapurna peaks. Lying 75 kilometers southwest of Kathmandu, it is reached by a rugged mountain road, which is lauded by many mountain bikers as one of the best rides in Nepal.

DHULIKHEL
Once an important stop on the trade route between Kathmandu and Tibet, the wealth amassed through trade is depicted in the handsome buildings with intricate woodcarvings. Sadly many of these fine structures have been neglected, but this is an excellent place if you are interested in collecting fine pieces. The population of Dhilikhel is a mixture of Newar, Tamang and Brahman-Chhetri. The main square includes a Narayan shrine and a rare temple to the deity Harasiddhi. The best mountain views are from a small Kali shrine on a ridge above the town – sunrise here is one of the most spectacular that you can observe.

GORKHA
This typical hill town is the ancestral home of Shah kings of Nepal. It was from Gorkha’s hilltop fortress that King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723-1775) launched his attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal. Gorkha's centerpiece is the Gorkha Durbar with a fort, a palace and a temple with excellent views of the surrounding valleys, and the Mansalu range.

Gorkha Bazaar is primarily a cobbled street marketplace where people from neighboring hill dwellings come to trade. There are a few temples nearby and it is worth a visit as it provides a very good vista and a quiet charm.

Gorkha Durbar, an hour of steep walk up a hill from the bazaar area, is the main attraction of Gorkha. It used to be the dwelling of King Prithvi Narayan and his ancestors. The Durbar itself is humble, yet quite impressive complex of a temple, fort, and a palace built in the Newar style of Kathmandu. The view of the Himalayan range and the deep valleys from up there is quite breathtaking.

Gorakhnath Cave, ten meters below the palace's southern side, is the sacred cave temple of Gorkhanath. The cave is carved out of the solid rock and is among the most important religious sites for mainstream Brahmins and Chhetris of Nepal.

LUMBINI
Situated in the Terai of southern Nepal, Lumbini is the place where Siddhartha Gautam, Buddha of this era, was born in 623 BC. This sacred place is marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC. It is listed as a World Heritage Site and is being developed as a place of pilgrimage and symbol of world peace. Many countries have built shrines and monasteries here reflecting the architectural traditions of their respective cultures. Near the Ashoka pillar is the Mayadevi Temple which houses a bas relief depicting the birth of Buddha. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a "foot imprint", indicating the exact place of birth. The Puskarni pond, where Queen Mayadevi, the Buddha's mother, had taken a bath before giving birth to him lies to the south of the pillar.

The Lumbini Museum, located in the Cultural Zone, contains Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terra-cotta fragments, and stone and metal sculptures. It also possesses an extensive collection of stamps from various countries depicting Lumbini and the Buddha.

Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI), located opposite the Lumbini Museum, provides research facilities for the study of Buddhism and religion in general. Run jointly by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Reiyukai of Japan, LIRI contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture. Kapilvastu Museum is situated 27 km west of Lumbini in the village of Tilaurakot. The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the seventh century BC and fourth century AD. The museum also has good collection of jewelry and other ornaments of that period.

NAGARKOT
Situated at 2300 meters, on the valley’s eastern rim, Nagarkot offers an excellent view of the Himalayas including Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Makalu and Manaslu mountains. It also has sweeping panoramic view of the terraced hillsides typical of Nepal. It is a popular place for sunrise and sunset viewing.

PANAUTI
This ancient Newar town is built at the confluence of two streams, with a third river visible only to sages. The confluence is a famous bathing and pilgrimage site where a festival is held on the first day of the month of Magh and a month-long Mela once every 12 years. The centerpiece of this charming, unspoiled village is the Indresvar Mahadev temple. Dating back to 1294 this is the oldest existing example of Newari Temple. Along the river there is a collection of more recent shrines and ghats, including an old Krishna temple, a suspension bridge leading to a recently renovated 17th century Brahmayani Mandir dedicated to the patron goddess of Panauti, and a rest house popular with old men. Add ducks, laundry and drying grain and you have a truly authentic corner of old Nepal.

POKHARA
Pokhara is a place of remarkable natural beauty. The enchanting city has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of Himalayan peaks. The serenity of the lakes and the magnificence of the Himalaya rising behind them create the ambience that has made Pokhara such a popular place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. Tourism focuses on the districts of Dam-side and Lakeside (or Pardi and Baidam, in Nepali, respectively). These two areas, packed with hotels and restaurants, are a few kilometers southwest of the main Pokhara bazaar.

Pokhara lies on a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurial skill.
The climate of Pokhara is slightly warmer than Kathmandu with daytime temperature hovering around 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 35 degrees in summer. The monsoon season which lasts from mid-June to mid-September is very wet; in fact Pokhara records the highest rainfall in the country. Best time to visit is between October and April.

Fewa Lake
It is situated at an altitude of 784m above the sea level with an island temple at the middle of the lake. The reflection of Mt. Machhapuchhre and Annapurna can be seen in its serene water.

Begnas and Rupa Lake- Begnas & Rupa lies in the northeast of Pokhara valley at the distances of 13 km from the main city. These lake are locates at the foothill of Begnas, mountain and are separated by the Pachabiya hill.

Seti River Gorge
It carved by Seti – Gandaki is one of the natural wonders of Pokhara. KI Singh Bridge at the Bagar, Mahendra Pool & Prithivi Highway Bridge near Bus Park provides a perfect view of the river’s dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by the turbulent flow of white water like milk.

David’s Fall
David’s waterfall locally known Patale Chhango in the southern bank of the Pokhara valley is where the stream flowing from Fewa Lake collapses and surges down the rock into a deep gage, leaping through several potholes.

Mahendra Cave
Mahendra Cave lies north of the Pokhara valley. It is a large limestone cave, which is one of the few stalagmite stalactite caves found in Nepal.

Tibetan Village
Tibetan Village Tashiling in the south and Tashil Palkhel in the north of Pokhara Valley is the two Tibetan village, which is inhabitant by the Tibetan people who keeps themselves busy by producing and trading woolen carpets and other handicrafts.

Barahi Temple
This is the most important religious monument in Pokhara, Built almost in the middle of Fewa Lake, this two –stories pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protector’s deity representing the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen especially on Saturday.

International Mountain Museum
Land Area : 100 Ropanies (5.10 Hectares, 12.58 Acres)
Land purchase by NMA on : 4th Aug 1985, costs Nrs.12000.00 per Ropani
Foundation Stone : Laid on 1st Nov. 1995 by the Honb’l Minister for
Tourism Mr. Chakra Prasad Bastola
Soft Opening : On 29th May 2002 by the famous climbers Ms. Junko Tabei and Mr. Appa Sherpa, graced by Honb’l Minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation Mr. Bal Bahadur K.C.
Grand Opening : 05th Feb 2004 by the Rt. Honb’l Prime Minister Mr. Surya Bahadur Thapa
Plinth area of Building : 3110 Sq. Mt.
Total Display and facility area : 4250 Sq Mt

TANSEN
Tansen,  an ancient hill town, with architecture strongly influenced by Newari migrants from the Kathmandu valley is waiting to be discovered. Situated at the southern slope of the Mahabharat range, the town offers an opportunity to experience genuine Nepalese culture, away from westernized places like Thamel in Kathmandu or Lakeside in Pokhara. Though the Newar community forms one of the major communities in this place now, the place originally belonged to the Magar community, one of the most delightful ethnic groups of Nepal. Old artistic Newari houses and cobbled streets shape the townscape. The town's hill, Shreenagar, allows breathtaking views of the Himalayan range from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east. Tansen is the administration headquarter of Palpa district, and is itself often referred to as Palpa, and its people as Palpalis.