Places to see in Nepal

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Pashupatinath Temple


The magnificent temple of Lord Pashupatinath lies around 5 km north-east of Kathmandu, it is situated amidst many other temples on the right bank of the river Bagmati (a tributary of the holy river Ganges). It has had a long and interesting history including being attacked and almost destroyed by Sultan Samasuddin in the 14th century.

Pashupatinath is the guardian spirit and the holiest of all Shiva shrines in Nepal. Lord Shiva is known by many different names; Pashupati is one. Pashu means living beings, Pati means master. Pashupati is the master of all living beings of the universe. The first recorded history of some form of worshipping site dates back to 753 A.D. where a stone inscription was erected by the ruler at the time Jayadev 11th. The temple was renovated by a mediaeval King Shivadeva (1099-1126 AD). Further renovation was completed by queen Gangadevi during the reign of Shiva Singh Malla (1578-1620 AD), the present temple dates from 1696. Pashupatinath stands in the middle of an open courtyard built in a square shaped pagoda style on a single platform 23.6 meters above the ground, gold gilt doors are found on all four sides of the temple. In the centre of the temple, there is a three feet high Shivalinga (fertility symbol) with four faces, all these faces have different religious names and significance. The face to the east is known as Tatpurusha, the one facing south as Aghora, the faces looking west and north are known by the names Sadhyojata and Vamadeva respectively with the upper portion of this linga known as Ishan. These faces are also defined as the symbol of four dharmas (the most famous places of pilgrimage for Hindus) and four Vedas (sacred books of Hindus). The images of Vishnu, Surya, Devi and Ganesh are also placed in the sanctum of the temple.

Hanuman Dhoka: - Kathmandu Durbar Square:

Probably the most interesting part of Kathmandu is the ancient Hanuman Dhoka Palace and temple complex in the middle of the old city which forms part of the Kathmandu Durbar square. Built during the Malla period, the area consists of a number of different monuments, the most outstanding of which are as follows:

Image of Hanuman

Standing to the left of the main entrance to the Hanuman Dhoka Palace is an image of Hanuman, the Hindu god who is always depicted in the form of a monkey. The Mallas placed this image of Hanuman at their palace gate both to protect the palace and to bring them victory in war. The image is made of stone, but each year it is coated with a layer of red pigment made by mixing oil and vermilion powder, over the years these repeated layers of colour have distorted the face almost beyond recognition. The idol is always clothed in red and is further honoured by the golden umbrella placed over its head. This particular image, and also the smaller one just beyond it, were constructed in 1672 by King Pratap Malla.

Kumari Chowk

Built in 1757 by King Jaya Prakash Malla (1746-68) Kumari Chowk is the home of the ‘Kumari’ or living goddess who is considered to be an incarnation of the goddess Taleju.The goddess is chosen from an early age and will remain the Kumari until the first signs of menstruation when she will give up her role when another young girl will be chosen to follow on. The Kumari Chowk is a three-storeyed courtyard lavishly decorated with fine woodcarving. The third storey of the building is especially attractive with its fine bay windows in which the Kumari appears from time to time in the company of her guardian priestess to watch over and be seen by her admirers.Taking photographs of her is strictly forbidden.

The Golden Door

To the right of the image of Hanuman is the golden main door of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. It is guarded by a pair of stone lions. Shiva sits on the lion to the right while Shakti sits on the lioness to the left. These custodians date from Malla times, the golden door itself is of a later period. The inscription above the door states clearly that it was erected in 1810 during the reign of King Girbana Yuddha Bikram Shah. Such an extravagance at that particular period of Nepal’s history must surely have a story to explain it, and indeed the story is found there in the inscription. Hundreds of outdated copper plate inscriptions were gathered and sold, the return from which bought the gold that was then pounded into sheets and molded to the posts and panels of the door.
Above the golden door is a well formed large window opening with three interesting images. The central piece shows Krishna Bishwarupa, his multiple arms, the skulls and the terror image, are all indicative of strong Tantric influences. To the left is a group of three figures, the central figure is clearly of Krishna, very likely the other two are meant to represent his two favorite consorts, Rukmini and Satya Bhama.On the right of the Bishwarupa, two seated figures are found. One of these figures, wearing royal robes and insignia, is playing an instrument. Seated near him in an attentive manner is a woman who is well dressed and heavily ornamented. The face of the King resembles very closely with the features found on the known images of King Pratap Malla. It can therefore be concluded that all the images date from Paratp Malla’s time (1641-74).

Basantapur Chowk

At the south-east corner of the Nasal Chowk and the Hanuman Dhoka is an exit through which one can pass through to enter Basantpur Chowk. During the time of King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1768-1846,) the Shah Kings moved from the old quarters formerly occupied by the Malla Kings into this section of the palace. While the woodcarvings in the central courtyard are an especially outstanding feature, the whole building is of equal historic value to all Nepalese.

The nine-storeyed Palace of Prithvi Narayan Shah is known as Basantapur, within the complex there are four towers Basantapur,Kirtipur, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Apart form the Basantapur tower that dominates the complex the other towers rise two storeys above the courtyard. Both Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur were in the past the two other main principalities within the valley. Kirtipur was a separate hill fortress and small town which is also situated within the valley.

There is a splendid view from the windows of the Lalitpur tower, lavish gardens were laid out directly below in the past which must have enhanced its charm. The great temple of Taleju lies directly north and can be clearly seen from the tower. The Kirtipur Tower is laid with a copper roof of a most unusual design and complexity, it represents an important piece of Nepalese architecture. There is a clear view into the courtyard of Nasal Chowk and also across the roofs to Degu Taleju temple and Jagannath temple in the Hanuman Dhoka area.

The Basantapur Tower raises a full five storeys above the general level of buildings in the whole palace and dwarfs the other three. It is a mark of pride to the Nepalese that King Prithvi Narayan Shah saw fit to build his Kathmandu Palace in the Nepalese style, thus not only showing his appreciation for the merits of the traditional architecture of the valley but also establishing a firm example that was to continue during the coming century.

The new Construction: In the 19 century a large white building built in neoclassical style was built onto the original Basantapur Palace; it now forms the newer wing of the complex.

Taleju Mandir

Built in 1564 by King Mahendra Malla, this is the most famous of the three Taleju temples built by the Malla Kings; it is situated in Trishul chowk and attached to the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The temple stands over 36.6 metres high and rests on a twelve-stage pedestal. Its three roofs soar above the rest of the Hanuman Dhoka complex, until very recent times it was considered unlucky to build a house higher than this temple. At the eighth stage of the pedestal, the steps broaden out into a spacious platform on which a wall is mounted which bars further movement into the temple.The temple is open to the public once a year during the Dashain festival.

On the platform just outside the wall there are twelve small temples, each with a double roof and built to a traditional Nepalese style, this is repeated inside the wall. Each temple has a spire, one of the symbols of the attributes of Taleju Goddess. On the south side where the main door is found there are large stone images of men and beasts depicting powerful protecting forces. There are two finely shaped bells on both sides of the main door of the temple, one erected by Pratap Malla in 1645 and one by Bhaskar Malla in 1714. They are rung only when worship is offered to Goddess Taleju.

Kasta Manda

Known locally as Maru Sattal, this huge open temple has a long history. Popular legend dictates that during King Laxmi Narsingh’s reign Kalpa Brikshav who had difficulties with the King at the time came to see the chariot festival of Machhendranath, where he was recognized by one of the priests of Machhendranath. The priest seized him and refused to release him until he promised to give a tree from that wood a rest house could be built, Kalpa Briksha made the promise and was released. Four days later a huge Sal tree was delivered , with the King’s permission, the Kastha Mandap (Kastha / wood Mandap / place for puja) was built from the wood of this single tree; Kathmandu has derived its name from Kastha Mandap.

The Great Bell

Without the great bell erected by King Rana Bahadur Shah in 1787, the palace area would somehow have been incomplete. The great bells in the Patan Durbar Square and the Bhaktapur Durbar Square were built 50 years earlier and date from 1736. The bell is rung only when worship is being offered in Degu Taleju.

The Great Drums

Located close to the great bell, two huge drums were made during the reign of Girbana Yuddha Bikram Shah (1799-1816) ; these are only played during the worship of Degu Taleju. An inscription on copper plate informs the one who plays the drums that a buffalo and a goat must be sacrificed for them twice a year.

The Image of Kala Bhairab

This huge stone image of Bhairab represents Shiva in his destructive form with its frightening expression symbolising death and destruction. It is undated and was set in its present location by Pratap Malla after it was found in a field north of the city. The image was originally a single stone, however, a portion on the upper right hand side was damaged and repaired by the addition of another stone. The sun and moon to the left and right of Bhairab and the heads of lions in the upper portion also seem to have been later additions. Such large images made of a single block of stone are very rare in Nepal.


Also known as Bhimsen Stambha (Tower) Dharahara is a 50.5 metre tower built by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832. Situated near by the General Post Office, the tower is one of Kathmandu’s best-known monuments. From the top of the tower there is a panoramic view of the whole Kathmandu valley. It was opened to the public in 2004 and has recently been renovated along with its immediate surroundings.

Keshar Library

Located near the Narayanhity Royal Palace the Keshar Library has a huge and rare collection of books and manuscripts collected during the 19th century. It also offers an opportunity to have a glimpse inside one of Nepal’s several palaces. It is open for the public during normal office hours.

Budhanilkantha (Sleeping Vishnu)

Situated below the Shivapuri hills, Buddhanikantha is eight kilometres north of Kathmandu.In the centre of the temple complex there is a huge statue of the Hindu God Vishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent. The huge stone figure is one of the masterpieces of stone sculptures of the Licchavi period (3rd century A.D.-8th A.D.) and is believed to have been built in the fifth century.

Swayambhu Stupa

Listed as a world heritage site, this is one of the world's most famous Buddhist sites in Nepal. The stupa is reported to be 2000 yrs old, its establishment is linked to the creation of the Kathmandu valley. Legend dictates the valley was once a huge lake, in the middle of the lake was a lotus flower which produced a brilliant flame. People would travel from miles around to worship its brightness. A Chinese disciple Manjushri wishing to study the flame more closely slashed the valley rim with his sword draining the waters to expose the most beautiful landscape below. Chobhar gorge where the valley waters still drain today represents the site of his action. Swayambhunath is reached by a steep stone flight of steps and stands on a high hillock (77mtrs) it is built where the lotus was originally located, candles have burnt here for many centuries in reverence to the original flame. Near the beginning of the stairs there is a stone footprint, which is said to be either that of the Buddha or of Manjushri.

On top of the high central stupa on a golden colored square of the all watchful eyes of the Buddha looking in all four directions. The nose represents the Nepali number one (ek) and symbolizes unity, above the two normal eyes is a third eye that symbolizes the spiritualist powers of the Buddha. The base of the stupa represents the four elements — earth, water, fire and air.

At the top of the stairs are two shikara Indian style temples with two stone lions and a huge dorje (Buddhist word for thunderbolt). The right temple is the Pratappura temple, the one on the left is the Ananthapura temple. Dorje is always depicted along with a series of bells. The thunderbolt symbolises the male force ,the bell symbolises the female wisdom.


There are several temples on top of the hill, one of these is a temple dedicated to Hariti Devi, the goddess of smallpox and fertility (The Newars know her as Ajima), she is worshiped to protect children and is portrayed sucking the inside out of a corpse. It is said that she was asked by the Buddha to stay near Buddhist temples to prevent disease if she was worshipped. The symbols of the five elements are located around the hilltop — earth, water, fire, air and either of these. Behind the Ananthapura temple there is Vasupura, the symbol of the earth and Vayupura, the symbol of air. Northwest of the platform is Agnipura, the symbol of fire and Nagpura, the symbol of water. Shantipura, the symbol of sky (either) is north of the platform. Near the north part of the platform, there is a big statue of the Buddha and an ancient stone inscription dating from 1372.


Boudhanath Stupa

Lying some 6km to the east of Kathmandu, this huge and ancient stupa is one of the biggest in the world, and the largest in the valley. A world heritage site, Boudhnath is believed to have been built by using dew to mix the mortar as Kathmandu was reeling under a severe drought during its construction. The stupa looms 36 metres high and presents one of the most fascinating specimens of stupa design. It is not known who actually started the construction although the legend goes that a poor girl Ajima gave birth to four sons by four different fathers. The sons over the years gathered a lot of wealth,with this wealth Jyajima decided she wanted to build a stupa. She approached the King for permission, the King granted her wish but insisted she build no larger than the size of a buffalo. Ajima was clever, she cut the skin into thin strips, laid them lengthwise next to each,and by doing so created a large area of land to construct on. During her life the stupa was erected upto the dumba level. After her death, her four sons had completed above the bumba level in this way the stupa was eventually erected. Boudhanath is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists a Tibetan community has built up around it. Early mornings are quite surreal with many pilgrims visiting to worship, meditation and prayer. There are one hundred and eight small niches all around the stupa accommodation, the icons of the Buddha's conjoint figures in erotic poses. Likewise at the bottom level, it is surrounded by three prayer wheels embossed with the famous mantra OM MANI PADME HUM fixed in more than hundred and forty inches.


Situated on a ridge 8-10km south-west of Kathmandu, this ancient Newar township has many places of interest from old shrines, temples, artistic old houses to people dressed in old traditional costumes. Chilamchu stupa and the temple of Bagh Bhairav are major attractions, the town is a natural hill fortress and has a proud and courageous history.


Dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali around 22km from the city centre on the southern rim of the valley, it is a popular place for worshippers. Tuesday and Saturday are the most auspicious days when the ritual of animal sacrifice is performed for the deity.


On the way to Dakshinkali about 9km southwest of Kathmandu lies Chobbar Gorge. Lord Manjushree (mentioned above) in legend sliced a portion of the hills to create Chobar where the waters of the valley drian today. The temple at Adinath at the top of the west part of the gorge is well worth visiting, it also provides some fine views of the Nepal Himalaya.



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