Few cities on the earth are as accessible or unique as Kathmandu, Nepal and its greater Valley area. Over more than two decades, Kathmandu used to call “Nepal” by Nepalese people. This Valley extends to about 30 Kms. from east to west and to about 39 Kms. north to south. It is surrounded on all four sides by Green mountains namely: Shivapuri (2713m.) in the north, Phulchowki (2800m.) in the south-east, Nagarjun (1939m.) in the west, and Chandragiri (2250m.) in the south-west. The average altitude of the Valley is 1350m. from the sea level.
Regarding the origin of the Kathmandu Valley, there are several legends. According to Swayambhu Purana, this Valley was once a circular lake known as Nagavas ( abode of the serpents) full of deep water where countless number of water fowls rejoiced. It is believed that Manjushree cut off the Mountain with his mighty majical sword towards the south near Chobar and the water of the lake drained out and the Valley became habitable. There is still a gorge in Chobar which serves as the bottlenecks of all water running out of the Kathmandu Valley. Over the centuries, a refined Urban civilization emerged, built in a unique synthesis of Hinuism and Buddhism.
Historycally, the valley and adjoining areas made up a confederation known as Nepal Mandala, and is about 3000 years old. The political, commercial, economic and cultural hub of Nepal is the first steep for the majority of visitors to the country. Politically, the present day Nepal was divided into petty principalities and the earliest ruling class of Nepal were the Gopalas, Mahispalas and Kiratas dynasties who were followed by the Lichchhavi (185-750 A.D.).The Lichchhavi period is known as the classical period of Nepalese history because it was during this period that art and architecture began to take shape. Trade and crafts flourished under them, and they built magnificent temples, palaces and monuments. But it was only under the later Malla period and the early Shah period from the 14th to 18th centuries the valley`s fabulous cities with their exquisite pagoda, shikhara and stupa architecture, ornate palaces and artistic temples came to take shape in the form that we see it today. Sculptures, wood craft and stone works were the medium and the means on which the expert hand and imagination of the artists acted on with impressive originality and ingenuity. These fabulous cities were once a separate kingdom in itself during the medieval time. It contains three cities in the valley- Kathmandu, Patan (Lalitpur), and Bhaktapur(Bhadgaon). Out of Ten UNISCO World Heritage Sites, seven cultural heritage sites are in Kathmandu Valley. These are following herein: 1) Kathmandu Durbar Square. 2) Patan Durbar Square. 3) Bhaktapur Durbar Square. 4) Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple). 5) Boudhanath Stupa. 6) One of the holy place of Pashupatinath Temple. And 7) Changunarayan Temple.
Dynasties came and went. Trade and the art flourished. Its deeply religious Newar inhabitants built fabulous cities and artistic temples that attracted devout pilgrims as well as rampaging invaders. In the late 18th century, following the founding of modern Nepal within more or less the present boundaries, Kathmandu was made the capital. Kathmandu, the largest city in Nepal is about 596 sq.km. in area. Broadly speaking, the Valley is composed of two distinct part; i) The enclosed Valley floor and ii) The surrounding Mountain wall. The valley floor, however doesn`t consist of a monotonously level surface. Moreover, the valley has two distinct levels a) The higher plateau like surfaces and b) The low lying alluvial plain popularly known as Tar and Dol respectively. Except the narrow gap in the south the valley is surrounded on all sides by the Mountains which have a height of about 7000 feet on average. Dol as a rule, forms the flood plain of some river and the Tar, the flat topped divide. The most striking feature of these lands, however, is the remarkable flatness of their surface. The edge of the Tar slopes to the Dol in fairly steep gradient. But at some places the occurrences of a series of terraces before the Tar between two river plains. These Tar lands are flat and so most of the cities of the Kathmandu Valley are situated on these Tar lands. Even Kathmandu and Lalitpur are on these Tar lands. The soil, of Dols is highly fertile due to silt materials that are deposited by the rivers. So, these Dols are intensively cultivated. The Kathmandu Valley can be viewed best from the high place like Nagarjun, Kakani, Phulchoki, Changu Narayan & Nagarkot.
Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square:
This complex of palaces, courtyards and temples like Hanumandhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, used to be the seat of the ancient Malla Kings of Kathmandu. An intriguing piece here is the 17h -century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages. The Durbar Square, protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the social, religious and urban focal point of the city. Even to date, all the major state and social ceremonies, including the solemnization of coronations are performed in one of the courtyards in this complex. There are also museums inside the palace building. There is an entrance fee of Rs. 250 for foreign visitors. Your ticket to the Square entitles you to visit all the museums.
Patan durbar square:
Patan also known as lalitpur means the city of arts. It is located on lovely little plateau across the Bagmati river only 6 km. southeast of Kathmandu city. This city founded in 3rd century AD by King Veer dev has a finest Newar carfts since time immemorial and is considered oldest of all three cities of Kathmandu valley. It has hundreds of fascinating Hindu and Buddhist monuments scattered in and around. Most of the monuments in this square date back to the medieval Malla period from 15th to 18th century as the golden period of Nepalese art and architecture. The important things to be seen in this areas included the golden gate and golden window of the old palace, the beautiful piece of traditional metal crafts, the famed Krishna temple with 21 golden pinnacles, the royal bath of Sundari chock, a perfect piece of the classic work in stone, royal Taleju temple, Vishwanath temple, and the charnarayan temple are the finest examples of the unique craftsmanship in wood; the temple of Bhimsen with the magnificent golden balcony overlooking the squre outside and many other shrines and sculptures scattered in and around the square like golden temple, Kumbheshwor, mahaboudha etc.
Bhaktapur durbar square:
Bhaktapur also known as Bhadgaon means city of devotees. It is a very unique old town of Nepal compare to Kathmandu and Patan. Historically, the city was built in the 9th century (889 AD) during the reign of King Ananda Dev Malla. However, it might be older than that. The city was originally built in the shape of a sacred conch shell which is associated with lord Vishnu, the protecter god in Hinduism. This city divided into 24 traditional locality covers an area of 7 square kilometers and lying at 15 km. east of Kathmandu. Before the unification of Nepal, Bhaktapur was an independent principality ruled by the Malla King, who were very much devoted to religion, culture, and art. During that period many magnificent temples and mansions were built. This period is remembered as golden period in the Nepalese art and remains a unique example. There are also many monuments including pagodas, palaces, shikhara style monuments, courtyards and Buddists shrines and monasteries. The present structures were erected from the 12th to 18th century AD. The important things to be seen in this area include the lion gate, golden gate, stone column, 55 windows palace, vastala temple, nyatapol, Bhairavnath temple, Dattatraya temple, pottery square etc. Apart from these monumental areas, there are many more places to explore such as Dakshinkali temple, kirtipur, Chobar, Thimi, Sankhu, Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, panauti, Namobuddha etc.
Watches over the Valley from the top of a hillock on its western side just three kilometers west of the city center. The stupa is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal and its establishment is linked to the creation of the Kathmandu Valley out of a primordial lake. Swayambhu is also known as Samhengu and is listed as a World Heritage Site. It is also one of the oldest and glorious Buddhist shrines in the world which is said to be two thousand years. The four sides of the stupa is painted with the eyes of Lord Buddha and the temple is also known as the watchful eyes of Buddha.
Situated below Shivapuri hill at the northern end of the Valley. It is about 9 km from the city center. The hub of the temple complex is a pond in which lies a 5 meter (17 feet) long great stone figure of Hindu god Bishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent. The figure has been estimated to have been found buried in the ground in its original state more than thousand years ago. It is also known as Bhuijasi. Hindus throng to this sacred pilgrimage almost everyday to perform puja but a great number of worshippers can be seen in various festivals, especially on Haribodhini Ekadashi that falls between October/November, the day believed that the sleeping Lord Bishnu wakes up.
Lies about 6 km east of downtown Kathmandu and is the largest stupa in the Valley and one of the largest in the world. It looms 36 meters high and presents one of the most fascinating specimens of stupa design with hundreds of prayer wheels and 108 small images of Buddha all around. Just like the Swayambhunath, the stupa here is too has four sides with the watchful eyes of Lord Buddha. All the Buddhist throng to this stupa to take part in the sacred rituals during the Buddhist festivals.
Changu Narayan Temple:
Situated on a ridge overlooking the Valley, about 12 km to the east of the city. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Bishnu – the Preserver. One of the finest and oldest specimens of pagoda architecture, the temple is embellished with exquisite wood and stone carvings and is said to be the oldest pagoda style temple in Nepal built sometime back in 323 A.D. The sacred complex is a World Heritage Site and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding at 125 meters.
One of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world, Pashupatinath lies 5 km east from the city center. The richly-ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga, or phallic symbol, of Lord Shiva as well as the noteworthy gold plated roofs and silver coated doors. This is the abode of God Shiva and is the holiest of all the Shiva shrines. Religious pilgrims and sadhus, like the one pictured here, travel all the way from the remote areas of India to visit this sacred sight, especially during Shivaratri (the night of Shiva) that falls between February/March. Even though these devotees have denounced worldly possessions, each carries a Sadhu ID (identifications card) to freely cross over the border between India and Nepal. Chronicles indicate Pashupatinaths existence prior to 400 AD. Devotees can be seen taking ritual dips in the holy Bagmati river flowing beside the temple, also a World Heritage Site. The crematorium is just outside the temple and it is a dream of almost every Hindu to be cremated by the side of Pashupati Aryaghat after their death.
Tour Itinerary: 3 nights / 4 days
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu Tribhuwan international airport, Nepal.
I will be on standby air-condition vehicle and displaying your named template at the airport on that day to pick you up and transfer to your hotel then within one hour later, will go to orientation walk to get familiar with your surrounding or sightseeing in Kathamndu valley if possible otherwise, will be rest in your hotel.
Day 02: Full day sightseeing in Kathmandu valley by a.c. vehicle.
Boudanath stupa (one of the biggest Buddhist temple in Nepal), One of the holy place of Pashupatinath temple, Swayambhunath stupa (monkey temple) and Hanuman dhoka durbar square (Kathmandu durbar square).Transfer to your hotel.
Day 03: Full day sightseeing in Kathmandu valley by a.c vehicle.
Patan durbar square, One of the oldest Hindu temple Changunarayan, and Bhaktapur durbar square. Transfer to your hotel.
Day 04: After this
After this cultural and historical tour if you would intreste for further activities like national park tour for 2nights/3days, rafting tour, Hiking tour, Trekking etc. I organize the trip according to your desire. If you decided to leave Nepal, I transfer to Airport for your onward destination.