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Kathmandu: City in the High Himalayas

Updated on April 10, 2017

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

Prayer flags flutter over Swayambhu temple. A beautiful view of Kathmandu is to be had from this high vantage point.
Prayer flags flutter over Swayambhu temple. A beautiful view of Kathmandu is to be had from this high vantage point. | Source

Map showing location of Kathmandu - ringed by mountains

Kathmandu, Nepal (This video has great music!)

Durbar Square, Kathmandu

Four temples in Durbar Square, Kathmandu.
Four temples in Durbar Square, Kathmandu. | Source

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

Source

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

A view of main entrance of the Pashupatinath Temple. You can see the back of the Nandi bull inside. Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter this temple.
A view of main entrance of the Pashupatinath Temple. You can see the back of the Nandi bull inside. Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter this temple. | Source

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.

Kathmandu poll

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Pilgrims Book House, Kathmandu, burnt to the ground

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

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    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      David I visited Kathmandu way back in 1988 but I still remember the visit to the Pashupatinath temple. Though I did not have more time as I had come to attend a meeting I managed to sneak in a visit to a Casino at night.

      I'd love to visit Kathmandu again if possible and see more.

    • David Paul Wagner profile imageAUTHOR

      David Paul Wagner 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thank you, aesta1. Even with all the changes happening to Kathmandu these days, it still remains one of the most interesting cities.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for refreshing my memory of our wonderful stay in Kathmandu. It is one of those that will forever be treasured. It is such an interesting place.

    • David Paul Wagner profile imageAUTHOR

      David Paul Wagner 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      @colorfulone Thank you for your comment. I trust that my hub has been able to give you a small "taste" of the city of Kathmandu.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      Kathmandu, must be fascinating to visit. Thank you for sharing. Those photos tell an amazing story by themselves.

    • David Paul Wagner profile imageAUTHOR

      David Paul Wagner 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      @WannaB Writer To walk to that vantage point (the Swayambhu Temple) involves a steep climb up 365 steps but it is worth it!

    • David Paul Wagner profile imageAUTHOR

      David Paul Wagner 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      @othellos Kathmandu is not the closest destination or the eastiest place to reach; but meeting the people of Nepal and experiencing yourself in their culture is something you will not forget.

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      That's a really impressive photo taken from the Buddha's Eyes. What a view!

    • othellos profile image

      Mario Psomas 

      4 years ago from Europe

      A dream trip. I wish I could make it there to see how different things are from our modern world.

    • David Paul Wagner profile imageAUTHOR

      David Paul Wagner 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for your comment. Kathmandu has seen a lot of population increase and building development over the past few years but the city is still a marvel. That is why sections of it and of the surrounding areas have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    • Violeta Quisora profile image

      Violeta Quisora 

      4 years ago

      I would love to visit Kathmandu one day and wander the streets of this historic city. The beautiful wooden temples would also be interesting to see.

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