Kathmandu Valley, the beating heart of Nepal, is full of irresistible sights, smells and sounds. At every turn, you can see historic temples and palaces, catch glimpses of the Himalayas, or enjoy the many festivals such as Rato Macchendranath or Bhote Jatra that are celebrated on the streets. A fascinating combination of the old and the new, Kathmandu valley is home to six UNESCO world heritage sights. Apart from the major attractions, you can enjoy the valley’s Newari culture, especially its mouth-watering dishes such as chhoe-la and momos. We will visit the three durbar squares: Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, each with its unique history and architecture.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square is also where you will find the home of Kumari, the living goddess of Nepal. Hanuman Dhoka palace is where Nepal’s kings lived until Narayanhiti was built, and houses a museum that chronicles Nepal’s royal history. The square bustles with activity and you can see vegetable markets, and stalls selling Nepali artifacts.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is still the place to get wood, stone and metal carvings as it houses a large community of carvers. A quaint museum inside the square has carefully preserved Nepal’s ancient history, and the bird’s eye views into the square from the many rooftop cafes are extraordinary.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square has dramatic architecture, a gate guarded by two huge lions, and a magnificient palace with 55 windows. Walk around and marvel at the imposing Nyatapola temple, or the golden gate, the historical collection at the Art Gallery, or indulge in souvenir shopping
The Pashupatinath temple
The Pashupatinath temple is one of the most sacred sites for Hindus. Built in the pagoda style, the temple sits on the banks of the River Bagmati, and is a memorial to Lord Shiva. Here you can find sadhu babas in their colorful orange and yellow, devotees lined up to pray, colorful flowers and holy offerings, and cremation ceremonies at Arya Ghat, on the bank of the Bagmati.
Swayambhunath stupa, frequented by both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims, is an important religious center for Nepalis. The stupa sits high on a hilltop, and is a good vantage point to see all of Kathmandu. You will also be entertained by the mischievous monkeys that live around the temple.
Bouddhanath is an important pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. The stupa looks beautiful at night when lamps are lighted. Monks, nuns and devotees all come here and chant prayers, light lamps, serve up offerings, or seek guidance on their spiritual journey.
Thamel, the heart of tourist activity in Kathmandu, is ideal for shopping. You can find handmade artifacts, pashmina garments, music, and Nepali tea and coffee. A wide variety of restaurants and bars makes this an ideal place to hang out after a full day of sightseeing.