What to See in Nepal

By | July 18, 2022

Despite the small territory of the country, in Nepal at almost every step there is something remarkable, whether it is a snow-capped mountain peak, a stormy river, tropical or centuries-old coniferous forests, temples, pagodas or gompas. Even the way of life, the great mixture of traditions and religions, beliefs and nationalities attracts the attention of tourists. So the sights of Nepal, like any other country, can be divided into two conditional types: natural wealth and cultural heritage.

The history of Nepal has more than 2 thousand years. Many temple complexes and stupas have been rebuilt so many times that it is sometimes difficult to guess their original appearance. The valley is considered to be the historical and cultural center of the country. Kathmandu , it is in it that countless temples, palaces, narrow streets and trading shops are concentrated. Modern Kathmandu is a single metropolis that fills the Kathmandu valley from end to end, but in the Middle Ages there were three principalities with three capitals on this site: Kathmandu , Patan (Lalitpur) and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon). Each principality was ruled by its own raja from the Malla dynasty, and moreover, they were fiercely at enmity and competed among themselves in the splendor of palaces and the beauty of temples. They say it was a golden time for architects, sculptors, artists, wood and metal carvers, a time when many works of art were created.

According to Top-mba-universities, Durbar Square is considered the center of the historical part of Kathmandu. (or, in our opinion, palace, royal). Nautalle Palace overlooks the square, another name is Bazantapur, built by King Prithvi Narayan Shah. One of the main attractions is the old royal palace or Hanuman Dhoka (now there is a dynasty museum, a numismatic museum and the Tribhuvan Museum). The Golden Gate, that is, the main entrance to the palace, is guarded by a statue of the monkey god Hanuman, the faithful guardian of pagodas, public buildings and palaces. This is where the name of the palace comes from. Inside it there are several courtyards, including Nasal Chowk, used for coronations, and Mul Chowk, a place of sacrifice during the Dasain festival. The Kumari Temple (Kumari Ghar) or the residence of the living goddess Kumari, is located near the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The Kasthamandap Pagoda is located next to the Kumari Temple, it is believed that it was built from just one tree and its name gave the city its name. There are other palaces on the square: the grandiose Singha Darbar (now the secretariat of the government is located here) and the modern residence of the king Nepal – Narayanhiti Darbar Palace with the legendary source of Narayanhiti. Everywhere in every courtyard there are temples and stupas, richly decorated with wood carvings, dedicated to various gods, and Hindus have a lot of them. Nearby are small markets and shops selling all kinds of souvenirs.

On the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, there is another attraction of the capital – a large Hindu temple complex Pashupatinath. The temple complex is located on both banks of the Bagmati River, sacred to Hindus. It is dedicated to Shiva in the guise of Pashupati, the king of animals, or otherwise the lord of living beings. The main temple of Pashupatinath, considered a masterpiece of Hindu architecture, was built in the 19th century. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims come here every day. Nepal and India. The main temples and buildings of the complex are located on the western shore of Bagmati, only Hindus are allowed to enter here. However, the architecture of temples and funeral rites, especially attracting tourists, can be observed from the eastern shore, open to all comers. Many temples of Pashupatinath are located in the park, where there are special paths for tourists. Monkeys and other animals feel quite at ease in this park, being under the auspices of Pashupati. Also in the park and near the temples you can meet numerous sadhus, wandering worshipers of Shiva, practicing yoga and performing various vows. Usually they look very colorful and allow themselves to be photographed for money. Swayambhunath Buddhist temple complexlocated on the western outskirts of Kathmandu, three kilometers from the tourist district of Thamel, on top of Swayambhu hill. The center of the complex and the main attraction is a white stupa, standing on top of a hill. From below, 365 steps lead to it according to the number of days in a year. Many small pagodas and temples have been built on the slopes of the hill; Hindus, who also revere Swayambhunath, have their own sanctuary. But above all the buildings rises a stupa in the center with a high conical dome topped with a copper-plated spire. The base of the spire, as usual, on four sides is decorated with the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha with a sign denoting one in the middle. Around the hill there is a monkey grove, in which a huge number of semi-wild monkeys have taken root, fed by monks and pilgrims.

in the east Kathmandu is another famous and also the largest stupa in Nepal – Boudhanath. Unlike the Swayambhunath stupa, it is located not on a hill, but in a residential area, but due to its size it is visible from afar and determines the life of not only the area surrounding it, but the entire area filled with Tibetan monasteries, gompas and souvenir shops. A white stupa towering above the square and decorated with traditional multi-colored flags gives the surrounding world an atmosphere of celebration, and mantras, prayer wheels and the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha – an atmosphere of mystery. The base of the Boudhanath stupa is made in the form of a three-level mandala, symbolizing the earth. Above the base rises the domed part of the stupa, symbolizing water. The spire rising above the dome symbolizes fire. An umbrella mounted on a spire symbolizes the air. Above the umbrella rises the tip, denoting the ether. All-seeing eyes of Buddha depicted on each of the four sides of the rectangular base of the spire of the stupa, look vigilantly in the direction of the four cardinal points. The spire consists of thirteen steps, representing the thirteen stages on the path to liberation from samsara. Around the stupa, several dozen monasteries were built, representing almost all the traditions and directions of Tibetan Buddhism. After all, it was the Boudhanath stupa that met the Tibetans before entering Kathmandu, who walked along the most important trade route that connected Lhasa with the capital of Nepal. Tibetan merchants stopped here to offer prayers for the successful completion of the difficult and dangerous crossing of the Himalayas.

Side by side with Kathmandu, two more cities grew in the valley: Patan (Lalitpur) and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon). Patan is located southeast of Kathmandu, but now it is quite difficult to distinguish the exact border between the cities. It is called the city of arts or beauty for the abundance of temples and rich decor. It so happened that in Patan there have always been experienced stone and wood carvers and bronze casting masters, for several centuries they managed to properly decorate their city and numerous temples and monasteries. Even now, Patan is full of souvenir shops selling carved and cast figurines. The historical center of Patan is small in area, but extremely rich in historical monuments and shrines. Previously, the city was limited by 4 stupas of King Ashoka, directed to the four cardinal points. Now they are surrounded by houses approaching from all sides. In the narrow streets and cramped courtyards of Patan, quite a few interesting places to visit are hidden, but the central place, as usual, is occupied by Darbar Square (in Patan, of course, it has its own, as in Kathmandu). Here, on a large square, there is a former royal palace and about ten temples dedicated to various deities. Palace Square is an architectural ensemble of amazing beauty and originality. Of particular interest is the Krishna Mandir temple, built of stone in the 17th century. The relief carving that adorns the temple depicts scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, many of the reliefs tell about Krishna, to whom the temple is dedicated. In addition, Hiranya Varna Pagoda Maha Vihar, or the Golden Temple of a Thousand Buddhas, is located in Patan. built in the 12th century. On the top floor of the pagoda, on a pedestal, there is a golden Buddha statue and a large prayer wheel. The walls are decorated with precious carvings and the full biography of the Buddha in the form of golden bas-reliefs. In addition to temples and pagodas, Patanhas the only zoo in Nepal, which is home to representatives of such a diverse flora and fauna of the country.

Bhaktapur , otherwise Bhadgaon (city of believers, believers), is located to the east of Kathmandu. This is the capital of the third of the principalities that existed in the Kathmandu valley . during the Malla Dynasty (Middle Ages). The old city itself is small in area, but on its territory, as well as in other cities of the valley, temples, pagodas, monasteries and palaces of extraordinary beauty are concentrated. Traditionally, pottery and weaving developed here, as well as a school for drawing Tibetan thangka (religious paintings). Compared to Kathmandu and Patan, Bhaktapur is a quieter city, there are fewer tourists here, and there is no hustle on the streets. The main attraction of the city is again Durbar Square, she is Palace. It houses the Golden and Lion Gates, a palace of 55 windows, a statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, a Botsala Devi temple and an art gallery. Both the Lion Gate and the Golden Gate are decorated with carvings of various gods, holy men, and mythical creatures. The golden gate leads to the palace of 55 windows with a carved wooden balcony, built in the 17th century under King Bhupatindra Malla. Opposite the palace stands a statue of the king himself on a high column, which is said to be the most majestic of all the numerous Nepalese statues. In the Picture Gallery you can see the paintings of the Buddhist and Hindu schools of Tantrism from different historical periods. The stone temple of Batsala Devi, also located in the palace square, is decorated with intricate carvings. On the terrace of the temple is a bronze bell.

The Changu Narayan temple complex, which is considered the oldest in the Kathmandu Valley, deserves a separate visit . It is located to the east of Kathmandu and to the north of Bhatapur there is a road leading to it, so visits to these two remarkable places are often combined in one day. Canggu Narayan is located on the edge of a ridge that juts out into the Kathmandu valley from the east and is above the main level of the valley, so it offers breathtaking views. The temple complex was built in the 4th century during the reign of the Licchavi dynasty, but after a fire in 1702, the main temple was rebuilt. The main temple is dedicated to the god Vishnu, around the temple you can find many stone images with fine carvings from the Licchavi period.

In the south of Nepal the place is located Lumbini , known mainly for the fact that it was there, according to scientists, that Siddhartha Gautama was born in the 6th century BC, who later became Buddha, enlightened. His life gave impetus to the emergence of a new religion – Buddhism, which for some time occupied a strong position in Nepal. However, Hindus also revere him as one of the incarnations of Vishnu, so Lumbini is a holy place for them, as well as for Buddhists. Lumbinimeans “beloved” in Sanskrit. The central part of the Lumbini complex is occupied by the Maya Devi temple., dedicated to the mother of the Buddha, with an ancient memorial stone depicting the birth of the Buddha. Next to the temple is a column of King Ashoka, erected in 250 and confirming that this is the birthplace of the Buddha. Around the temple there is an area of archaeological excavations, where you can see the remains of structures from the time of early Buddhism.

Pokhara , the second largest city in Nepal after Kathmandu, is a popular destination located in a mountainous area on the shores of the large Phewa Lake. The surroundings of Pokhara are very picturesque, behind the hills and hills covered with forests, the Annapurna mountain range rises. From the surrounding hills there is a beautiful view of the eight-thousander Annapurna (8090 m), and on a pointed peak with a hard-to-pronounce name Machhapuchkhre (6993 m). But despite its picturesque location, or maybe because of it, Pokhara serves primarily as a starting point for further travels inland. One of the most popular types of recreation in the vicinity of Pokhara is trekking, or hiking. The main routes lead to the base camp under the top of Annapurna, around the entire massif, or simply from one village to another, such as the Ghorepani – Gandrung route.

The small mountain town of Jomsom is also popular among trekkers, from here they often descend back to Pokhara.. Not far from Jomsom is the village of Muktinath, where the Hindu temple of Vishnu and the Tibetan monastery are located. Jomsom is located in an area called lower Mustang, besides it there is also upper Mustang, located to the north and higher in the mountains on the border with Tibet. Getting into the upper Mustang is more difficult, due to its remoteness from the main transport hubs, and also because of the status of a state-protected area. It is believed that the traditional Tibetan way of life has been preserved in Upper Mustang.

Other attractions in Pokhara there is a natural history museum that has a huge collection of butterflies from all over the world. On the opposite shore of Lake Phewa from the city, a White Stupa was recently built. The four Buddhas in it, looking at the four cardinal directions, were specially brought from four Buddhist countries: Japan, China, Vietnam and Nepal. From the White Stupa there is a beautiful view of the Annapurna and Machhapuchhre peaks. Walking along the lake, you can get to a small island. The locals call it the “Island of the Dragon”, there is a small Shaivist temple of Varaha on it, and from time to time fire and smoke begin to come out of the ground. Legend has it that this dragon spews flames from its mouth. An interesting attraction in Pokhara is considered the Davis Falls, which forms the Seti River, flowing out of Lake Phewa. In addition to trekking, Pokhara is the starting point for rafting on several famous Nepalese rivers.

Despite the obvious advantages of Pokhara as a starting point for hiking, Nepal ‘s trekking areas do not end there. The second most popular area is the Sagarmatha National Park., on the territory of which the Nepalese part of Everest, the highest peak in the world, is located. Naturally, this fact alone attracts a lot of tourists there, both trained professionals and ordinary people. You can see Everest by traveling along routes of varying difficulty, but all of them, as a rule, start from Lukla, which can be reached by air. On the way from Lukla to Everest is the village of Namche Bazaar , widely known among climbers. Not far from it is the Buddhist monastery Tengboche. From it, the peaks of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam, located in the same circus, are clearly visible.

Less well known is the trekking area located in the Lantang National Park, south of the Kathmandu valley.. It contains the sacred lake for Hindus Gosaikund, which, according to legend, was created by Shiva. The valley is inhabited by the Tamang ethnic group, close to the Tibetans, and Buddhist shrines are concentrated in the valley itself.

The national parks of Nepal attract the attention of tourists due to the diversity of flora and fauna protected on their territory. Most Nepal tours include a one or two day trip to Chitwan National Park.located on the southern border of the country in Terai. Going for a ride on an elephant, you can see rhinos, Bengal tigers, deer and other inhabitants of the park. At night, you can listen to the birds singing or arrange a photo hunt for nocturnal animals, but usually accompanied by a park guide. Other national parks, such as Bardiya, Koshi-Tappu, She Phoksunda, deserve no less attention, but due to their remoteness from the capital, it is more difficult to get to them.

What to See in Nepal