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Kathmandu: City in the High Himalayas
Capital City in the Himalayas
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is a city snuggled high in the Kathmandu Valley in the Himalaya mountains. With its ancient buildings, many with with carved wooden windows dating from hundreds of years ago, Kathmandu is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Some of the most interesting places to see in Kathmandu include the old palace of the Newar kings at Durbar Square, the Buddhist stupas Swayambhunath and Boudhanath, and the famous Hindu shrine, Pashupatinath temple.
Kathmandu's Icon: The Buddha Eyes of Swayambhu Temple
View from Swayambhu over Kathmandu
Map showing location of Kathmandu - ringed by mountains
Kathmandu, Nepal (This video has great music!)
Durbar Square, Kathmandu
The Neighbourhoods of Kathmandu: Durbar Square
The center of old Kathmandu is built around Durbar Square. There are a number of large palace buildings and some 50 temples, all built from wood and some stone.
The Square is over five acres in area and includes the Hanuman Dhoka and the Kumari Ghar.
The Hanuman Dhoka includes the palace of the Malla kings and of the more recent Shah dynasty. The oldest part of this complex dates back to the 16th century.
The Kumari Ghar "Kumari house") is the resident of the Kumari, the so-called child goddess (a young girl that believers view as the incarnation of the Nepalese goddess Taleju. You can sometime catch of glimpse of the Kumari through one of the windows of the Kumari Ghar.
Carved Wooden Windows, Durbar Square, Kathmandu
The Neighbourhoods of Kathmandu: Swayambhu
Start walking from your hotel and cross the Bagmati River and then climb a steep hill and you will arrive at the Buddhist religious edifice known as Swayambhu.
It is built as follows: a dome at its base and on top of that a square structure with the eyes of Buddha on each side. The eyes of Buddha are looking out in all four directions and "see all".
Swayambhu is perhaps the best known temple of the city and is revered not only by Buddhists but by Hindus as well.
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The Neighbourhoods of Kathmandu: Pashupatinath
The Pashupatinath Temple is a huge temple complex built on the side of the Bagmati River. It is located about 5 km from the city of Kathmandu and is the oldest Hindu temple in the capital.
The temple complex is the seat of the national god of Nepal, Lord Pashupatinath. It is one of the most important Shiva temples in the world. The complex is included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
Architecturally, the complex is a series of pagodas. The main Pashpatinath pagoda consists of two tiers and rises to a height of 23.6 meters. Features include gilt and silver decorations.
The inner sanctum includes a lingam on the sides of which are four faces of Pashupati.
The Main Entrance of the Pashupatinath Temple
The Neighbourhoods of Kathmandu: Thamel
Thamel is the area that many young tourists stay in during their stay in Kathmandu.
In one of corner of Thamel is the famed Kathmandu Guest House where some of the great mountaineers have set up digs in earlier decades before setting off to climb Himalayan peaks.
Up and down Thamel's streets are restaurants (including one selling Kathmandu's famous pies), bars, handicrafts stores and mountaineering/trekking outfitters.
One more modern Thamel "institution" was the Pilgrims Book House bookstore (a four storey bookshop with dozens of different rooms, each of which had thousands of books on different subjects to do with Nepal, the Himalayas, Tibet, India, China, and Central Asia, and related topics such as mountaineering, eastern religions, etc). I say "was" because sadly Pilgrims caught fire and burnt to the ground in a fire during 2012. Good news: Pilgrims fortunately has another branch in Nepal and have transferred their headquarters there.
Would you like to visit Kathmandu?
Pilgrims Book House, Kathmandu, burnt to the ground
Interesting Internet Resources on Kathmandu
- Top 5 Must See Tourist Places in Nepal
Planning to travel to Nepal? It is one of the most sought after travel destination in the world. There is no denying the fact that nature has been decidedly partial to Nepal as it is one of the most...
- Travel guide to Kathmandu
Kathmandu may not be as eccentric as it once was but it's still chaotically cool. Most visitors use the sprawling, crowded capital of Nepal as a jumping-off point for a trek...
- Nepal (including Kathmandu)
Historical article on Nepal and its largest city, Kathmandu, as they were in the late 19th century.
- Has air pollution made Kathmandu unliveable?
With smog nearly five times worse than what caused Paris to ban cars, the capital of the supposedly pristine mountain nation of Nepal is choking. Doctor Andrew Lodge reports in this article published in The Guardian (London).
Nepal generally evokes images of a pristine mountain nation on top of the world. The thick cloud of pollution that threatens to suffocate Nepal’s largest city, however, provides a stark contrast to this reputation.— Dr. Andrew Lodge, The Guardian
© 2009 David Paul Wagner