The Kathmandu Valley is indeed a unique type of valley, wearing an exotic setting. Twenty-five centuries back it stood as a large lake. It is completely surrounded by a tier of Green Mountain walls above which to the north tower the mighty snowcapped peaks during the winter. It consists of four major cities carrying great historic, artistic and cultural interest.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly uncountable monuments in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. The house of the Living Goddess (Kumari Ghar), the ferocious Kal Bhairab, the red monkey god, and hundreds of erotic carvings are a few examples of the sights at the Square! The buildings here are the greatest achievements of the Malla dynasty, and they resulted from the great rivalry between the three palaces of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. The Valley was divided among the children of Yaksya Malla. For visitors today, and for the Nepalese, it was serendipitous that they, and later their off-springs, began an artistic warfare trying to outdo each other in splendid constructions. Kings copied everything their neighbors built in an even grander style. A visitor who wanders around the Square will see a round temple in the pagoda architectural style, the temple of Goddess Taleju (legend has it that She played dice with King Jaya Prakash Malla), and an image of Shiva and Parbati sitting together among the many monuments.
The Square teems with colorful life. Vendors sell vegetables, curios, flutes, and other crafts around the Kastamandap rest house. This rest house is said to have been built with the wood of a single tree and is the source from which the Kathmandu Valley got its name. Nearby are great drums which were beaten to announce royal decrees. All woodcarvings, statues, and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine, and Kathmandu Durbar Square is among the most important sights for travellers to see. The complex also houses the Tribhuvan Museum that carries the mementoes of different Shah Kings.
Akash Bhairab Temple
Also referred to as the Blue Bhairab sometimes, it is a three-storeyed temple in the principal market called Indra Chowk. The divine image of the Akash Bhairab is displayed outside for a week -long period during the great festival of Indra Jatra. The celebration of Indra Jatra honors Indra- the King of Heaven and the God of Rain.
This falls to be the historic seat of the past royalty, particularly belonging to the Malla dynasty. The Durbar Square, which is itself the old Royal Palace Complex dedicated to the Malla monarchs, is today classified as a World Heritage Site. The age-old temples and palaces epitomize the religious and cultural life-style of the people. The interesting things to view include Taleju Temple built by late King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D., a gigantic stone figure exposing the fearful manifestation of the Black Bhairab which the Hindus regard as the God of Destruction, the tall stone pillar on the plinth-top of which sits late King Pratap Malla his four children at the four small corners, the colossal image of the White Bhairab the lattice of which is removed for a week during the Kumari Yatra festival, the nine-storeyed Basantapur Palace (literally meaning the spring season palace), the Great Bell and the Great Drums. The main golden-gate is guarded by the Monkey-God called Hanuman. He is the king of the Monkeys and faithful servant to Lord Ram Chandra-the Hero of the Epic “Ramayan.” Being guarded by a sole protector, the gate itself has come to be known as Hanuman Gate. With a commercial umbrella suspended above his head and wrapped in a scarlet cloak, he squats on a stone plinth to be respected by hundreds of Nepalese Hindus plus Indian Hindus.
Temple of Kumari
The temple and the holy quadrangle with a Buddhist stupa at the center form the residential quarters of the Chaste Virgin Living Goddess called KUMARI. The traditional building has profusely carved wooden balconies and widow screens. The non-Buddhist ant the non-Hindu visitors may enter the courtyard called the ‘bahal’ but may not proceed beyond upstairs. The KUMARI acknowledges their greetings from the middle window of the balcony particularly saved for her alone and snapshot is strictly prohibited.
Located nearby the Temple of Kumari, this is a unique type of wooden temple also known as Maru Satal. It was built in 1596 A.D. by King Laxmi Narsingh Malla. They say the timber used for its relevant construction was sawed out of a single tree. It is also believed that the capital of Kathmandu derived its new name from this very ‘Kastha Mandap.’ Today it housed the Hindu God namely Gorakh-Nath.
Natural History Museum
Situated 3-kms west of Kathmandu City behind the famous Swayambhunath hillock. This museum has a unique collection of butterflies, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, plants and a variety of fossils collected within the country. Photography inside the museum is prohibited.
Pashupati Nath Temple
It is pagoda style Hindu temple with gilt roofing and richly carved silver doors dedicated to Lord Shiva and is situated at the bank of the holy Bagmati River. One of the most sacred temples in the entire Hindu world, Pashupati Nath Temple is the nerve center of pilgrimage on the day of shibaratri. The minute religious town itself which houses the great temple is known as Debpatan and is situated 5 kilometers east of the capital city. Only Hindus are permitted to enter the main courtyard of the temple. Alien tourists can view the temple from the eastern side of the Bagmati River.
This is believed to be 25 centuries old and stands as one of the world’s oldest Buddhist Chaityas. The Great Stupa of Swyambhu is the wonder that was Nepal, the glory that was Nepal. It is indeed listed a World Heritage for Site to prove that it serves as the nerve center of faithful worship for all the devout philosophy of Bajrayan in particular and honors Lord Adi Buddha. It is dedicated to the self – originating flame God. The stupa, which forms the salient structure, is well composed of a solid hemisphere of terra – cotta bricks and soil supporting a cornice of copper and gilt. Painted on the four -sided based by of the spiral are the all seeing eyes of lord Buddha, keeping an eternal watch on the Valley distinguishing between vice and virtue. It is some two miles west of Kathmandu City proper across the holy Bishnumati River. Situated on the top of a hillock, it is about 500 feet above the level of the Valley. The whole hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and pagoda temples possessing great five Mahayan (Lamaism) and one Hinyan (Therbadist). On the hind hill is located another important Buddhist shrine; it is called Manjushree. This Chinese Buddha is the God of Knowledge.
Situated within Ward No. 15 of Kathmandu City adjacent to Swayamvu Hill is another famous Buddhist monastery called Kimdol. It is a small town itself full of Buddhist citizens. Kimdol resumes a hillock atop which sits a Buddhist embracing the two major aspects of Buddhism including Mahayan (Lamaism) and Hinyan (Therbad). Apart form that we find numerous stupas, chaityas and chhortens scattered around. Prayer-flags with printed Tibetan characters and holy diagrams flutter many terraces and rooftops. Kimdol bahal is believed to be the location whence the Hinyan (Therbad) from of Buddhism highly developed. Today only nunnery of the saffron robe is practiced here; monk hood has eventually shifted elsewhere. The bahal restricts the consumption of liquors of any kind (strong or mild), tobacco, meat, fish, egg and even garlic for all visiting the monastery. The spectacular view of old Kathmandu, i.e. Kantipur, can be clearly fetched form Kimdol height.
This is declared to stand as the largest Buddhist shrine of South Asia. The ancient colossal chhorten was built in the 6th century A.D. by King Man Deb.It rests on a series of three terraces and from the bird’s eye view it takes the relevant shape or of a lotus flower which indeed remains a very holy object for all the devout Buddhists of the world. The chhorten is surrounded by a circular market, which forms a part of Tibet town. In this case, also the four pairs of the Buddha’s eyes give a vivid flash to the four cardinal directions, meaning to keep a diligent watch over the people and their commitments all day all night. The chhorten embraces the authentic philosophy of Mahayan the faith of which is known as Lamaism in Sikkim, Ladakh, Bhutan and Tibet.
Situated in the northern suburbs of the Valley just at the foot of Mt. Shibapur, this is an enchanting Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Bishnu Narayan. So the locality is also known as Narayanthan. He lies in a bed of serpents amidst the pious pool and seems to float on water. The surrounding pond actually represents the sea. The reclining statue was built in the 5th century A.D.The season of religious celebration here takes place right after the festival of Tihar. Although it is a renowned spot of worship, the reigning king of Nepal (may it be contemporary or any Hindu monarch) may not visit this place for reasons particularly unknown. Thus to please the king a replica of it has been built elsewhere if he wishes to visit it much.
Balaju Water Garden
This is an interesting large compound sitting at the foot of Mount Nagarjun in the northeast corner of the Valley. Its premises include numerous worthy items. The important ones are the Twenty-Two Water Spouts, the replica image of Lord Buddhanilkantha, the Olympic size swimming pool, etc. Among all the attractions, the major one stands as the Twenty-Two Water Spouts and the whole compound uphill and downhill itself makes an enchanting picnic-spot for holiday-makers. It is here that the stone statue of Lord Bishnu Narayan, an imitation of the genuine previous one at Buddhanilkantha, exists in order for the Nepalese monarch to pay decent homage. The annual festival is celebrated on a full-moon day of the spring season. It is a merry day when many Nepalese Buddhists and Tibetan Buddhists hike up to the summit of Jamacho the starting point being Balaju or Lhuti. A jeepable road does lead to the top of Mount Nagarjun. This precise full-moon is known as ‘Lhuti Punhi.”
At the northeastern edge of the Valley, the cool streams the eventually join the holy Bagmati River flow over the waterfalls at Sundarijal into a hundred year -old reservoir. This titanic reservoir was built during the time of the Ranas. Sundarijal is fifteen kilometers away form Kathmandu City and is also the starting point for the popular trek to Helambu- the nearest Sherpa village. The main reservoir which supplies drinking water to the valley is roughly and hour walk uphill form here. A tinier trail forks off before the reservoir to a small rock cave, where a thirteenth century image of Mahadevi (the great Goddess) can be found. It is a pleasant bike ride along the quite roads past Gokarna. The long valley-rim walk, a minor trek that is, from Sundarijal to Nagarkot or vice-versa is suggestive to every enthusiastic trekker.
This is a peaceful small town the old name of which goes Shankharpur according to classical Sanskrit. The current name as referred by the local citizens goes Sakwo as well. It is situated at the northeastern corner of the valley and served to bet the exit point to Lhasa of Tibet in the earlier days
The above itinerary should be taken only as a guide line; since we will be trekking on some of the most remote terrain on earth, it could change due to weather, availability of clean water and campsite, trail or any other unforeseen conditions. In the event of this happening, your senior guide will make the final decision after consulting with the group.