Day Tours in Kathmandu valley / Kathmandu sightseeing
There are many places to see in Kathmandu valley which are listed in UNESCO site. Kathmandu is historical beautiful city in Nepal and even in Asia. Nepal is famed for being the home of eight highest mountains. Nepal is abundantly rich in scenery, wildlife, culture, and tradition. It is the famous home of two major religions that are Hinduism and Buddhism. So, it contains beautiful Hindu temples and ancient Buddhist monasteries along with great stupas that highlight Nepal to visit. There are numerous beautiful places in Nepal for a day tour or multi day tour.
Kathmandu valley sightseeing tour:-
Kathmandu is the biggest and capital city of Nepal. It stands at an elevation of about 1400 m and 4600 ft above the sea level. Kathmandu is the most facilitated and populated city in Nepal. Kathmandu valley is a popular tourist destination and famous vacation spot. The city is historically and religiously important for all Nepalese as numerous temples and monuments lie here. Although there are lots of places for sightseeing in Kathmandu, among them Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Bhaktapur Durbar, Patan Durbar, Kathmandu Durbar, and Changunarayan temple are the most popular site. These places are known as 7 wonders of Kathmandu city and have listed under UNESCO World Heritage Site. All these sites are described as below:-
1. Pashupatinath Temple:-
Pashupatinath is the holiest and sacred temple for all Hindus all over the world. The sacred temple is situated about 5 km east of Kathmandu. Dedicated to Lord Shiva this temple is one of the important temples in Asia for Hindu people. Pashupatinath temple is the same as its first construction from the around the 17th century and is situated at the banks of holy river Bagmati. The temple is the largest complex in Nepal with high importance. The temple is dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist religion so people from all over the world come to visit this temple.
There are lots of temples inside the territory of Pashupatinath and the main temple is pagoda style with the golden roof, four doors covered with silver and the finest wood carvings. The area is full of security and only Hindu can step in the main temple. Inside of the main temple has Shiva Linga and outside sits a huge statue of Bull (Nandi) vehicle of Lord Siva. Thus, Pashupatinath Temple is the holiest temple for Hindus all over the world. Pashupatinath is not just a single temple, it is a huge complex. There are lots of attraction in the complex of Pashupatinath Temple among them some popular attractions are listed and described below:
Attractions of Pashupatinath Temple:-
- Western Cremation Ghats
- Eastern Ghats
- Shiva Shrines
- Bachhareshwari Temple
- Guhyeshwari Temple
- Nandi Statue
- Western Cremation Ghat:-
Western cremation Ghat is an important place for the Nepalese Hindu People. This is the place where only the members from Royal family cremated immediately. Dead bodies are wrapped in shrouds and laid along the river bank of Bagmati and cremated on the wooden pyre by fulfilling whole Hindu rituals. This is the most interesting aspect and powerful place to the notion of death and mortality.
- Eastern Ghats:-
This is the ghat where normal people can perform the cremation rituals. Ghats of Pashupatinath are full of life and its worth to take some time observes deeply. There you can get to see devotees ritually bathing in the water of Bagmati River, holy men performing rituals on a stone step and the sad families preparing the funeral of their loved ones.
- Shiva Shrines:-
Garden of Pashupatinath Temple contains stone terraces covered in dozens of small one-roomed temples. Those all one room temples are known as Shiva Shrines. These shrines were used by Shadus in ancient period for lodging propose. All the shrines are built in different styles. They are in designing a mask of Bhairab, Shiva’s fearsome, statue of Nandi and bull head water spout.
The viewpoint of Pashupatinath Temple is located at the hilltop of the temple. From there you can view the area of whole Pashupatinath Temple from bird’s eye view. It offers you the view of the golden trident on the northern side of the temple with the golden figure of the king. From this place you also can watch the cremation rituals below.
- Bachhareshwari Temple:-
This is an amazing temple of Pashupatinath. It is believed that there was a system of human sacrifices at this temple. The temple is of the 6th century old and decorated with Tantric figures, skeleton and erotic scenes.
- Guhyeshwari Temple:-
Guhyeshwari Temple was built by King Pratap Malla in 1653. The temple is dedicated to goddess Parvati (wife of Lord Shiva). The entry is banned for non-Hindu people and you can see this temple from a path with four huge snakes supporting the central finial.
- Nandi Statue:-
Statue of Nandi is located at the west side of the compound from the main gate. Nandi is the bull it is believed that Nandi was the vehicle of Lord Shiva. You can view the mighty golden behind of an enormous brass statue of Nandi.
Largest Stupa in South Asia, Boudhanath is located 11 km away from the center of Kathmandu. The Stupa lies at the height of 36 m and 118 ft above the sea level. The Stupa is a 14th century old and has huge importance for the Hindu and Buddhist religion with mandala style structure. A site is an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for local people, Tibetan or Nepali Buddhist and famous tourist destination of the Kathmandu valley. This Stupa is also called Stupa of enlightenment or Bodhi Stupa.
Likewise, Stupa is white in color and big and spherical in shape with the eye of Lord Buddha watching everyone. The Stupa is highly unique with three level mandala style structures. Boudhanath is one of the most fascinating and spiritual areas. Being a tourist destination the area of Boudhanath always remains crowded. The Stupa is surrounded by irregular walls by 16 sides. Visitors should walk around the Stupa in a clockwise direction and also prayer wheels should spin in a clockwise direction, the rule of the Buddhist religion.
Ajima Temple and the historical pond are the important sites Boudha Stupa. Ajima temple is a very famous temple and known as the wish fulfilled. Similarly, Historical Pond was formed when the soil of this place was used for the construction of Stupa. Mamla Jatra, Chechnya Puja, Lhosar, Temple Jatra, Buddha Jayanti, Ropai Jatra are the major festivals celebrated at Boudha Stupa especially by Mongol people.
Popularly known as ‘Monkey Temple’, Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the famous tourist destinations of Nepal. The area is equally crowed by monkeys and people. Located at the lovely little hillock, the Stupa lies about 4 km west of central Kathmandu and this site is one of the best panoramic views of the city. This is the oldest shrines in Kathmandu Valley which were built more than 2000 years ago. There are two stupas of Swayambhunath first entrance and the main entrance. The main attraction is the large white dome stupa that is surrounded by many small shrines and temples.
The beautiful Swayambhunath Stupa stands on a typically stylized lotus mandala base.
The hemispherical part of the chaitya is made of brick and stone. Also, the top of the hemispherical part lies the hermika which carries the eyes of Lord Vairochana watching painted in the Malla period. The Stupa is also laden within all the directions and believed to have been the 13 gold plated spires. It symbolizes the 13 stages to salvation. A golden umbrella has crowed the spire and supported by a pole from the center. The stupa is the series of donation made by merchants, monks, pilgrims, and Buddhist followers from the ancient period.
Things to see around Swayambhunath Stupa
- Amideva Budhha Park
- The Vajra Mandala
- The main Swayambhu Stupa
- Buddhist Museum
- Hariti Temple
Amideva Buddha Park:-
The Amideva Budhha Park is the star attraction of the visitors. It is located at the very base in the way of Swayambhunath Stupa nearby road. There are wonderful three huge statues of Buddha sit at the top of little flight of step. Furthermore, you will found a few beautiful and colorful artworks with weird, wonderful concrete mountains.
The Vajra Mandala:-
The Vajra Mandala lies just after the stairways on the eastern side. It symbolizes the male power. It is believed that Vajra was the sword of Manjushree who have drained the lake of Kathmandu valley before it was ready for human settlement.
The main Swayambhu Stupa:-
Swayambhu literally means “self-existence one” is an important center of Buddhism. It is a 13th century old. It is oldest in its own and contains numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises. To reach the Stupa you need to step up 365 feet. The giant eyes have painted at the four walls of the upper portion of the stupa. It is believed that they are the eyes of Buddha Gazing out the Valley.
There is a small red brick building just to the corner left of the stupa and that is Buddhist Museum. It is free for entry and there is a small collection of various kinds of Buddhist statue and Buddhist item.
Hariti is the goddess of healing and spirit possessor. Hariti Temple is one of the most popular, two-tiered glided beautiful Newari style temple. The temple is often a remaining crowd. Visitors are not allowed to take photographs in front of a temple or shrines. Special prayers are offered in the temple on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
Both Anantapura and Pratapura temples are situated on either side of Swayambhunath Stupa. The temples are dedicated to Vajrayana deities and were built by Pratap Malla in the 17th century. Both temples have got Shikhara style of architecture.
Five elements of life:-
The Stupa and all the sacred sites of Boudhanath represent the five fundamental elements of nature. The elements are believed to be founded by Shankar Acharya and the elements are:
Nagapura (the lord of water)
Shantipura (space or sky)
Agni Puran (fire)
Some Important Days to Visit Holy Site:
On the day of Buddha Purnima, the birthday of Buddha.
- August to September, the Buddhist month.
- Kojagrath Purnima, it falls once in twelve years.
- On the day of Lhosar.
Kathmandu Durbar Square:-
Kathmandu Durbar Square is located at the heart of the Kathmandu. This is the most visited place and hard to miss location. In an ancient period, the Kathmandu Durbar Square was the palaces of Malla and Shah Kings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is also known as the Basantapur Durbar square and Hanuman Dhoka. The temples of this area are a 3rd century old. The Durbar square is surrounded by beautiful Newari architecture, high temples, popular shrines, and old royal palaces and these are a treasure trove of history and culture of Nepal.
Kathmandu Durbar Square is a living part of Kathmandu filled with people worshipping in shrines, selling goods or walking through. The Durbar is still used for the official religious ceremonies like a living goddess (Kumari) whose residence is located there. You will get to see lots of beautiful carvings on the roof struts in Durbar square depict scenes of an amazing artist. Here, visitors are charged to enter. One of the interesting parts of the palace is, a huge stone statue of Hanuman (god of monkey) is placed to the main entrance protecting the complex.
Some important monuments of this area are:-
- The tallest Taleju temple.
- The fascinating erotic figures carved in the wooden struts.
- The Kala Bhairab huge stone statue.
- The most important Kumari temple.
- Kasthamandap, it is said that it has been built from the timber of a single tree.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square:-
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is in Bhaktapur city, located around 15 km far from the Kathmandu city but inside the Kathmandu Valley. Durbar Square is the museum of medieval art and architecture with many examples. The museum is full of beautiful sculpture, woodcarvings, and colossal pagoda temples related to different god and goddess. The area is huge and reflects the Newari culture of Nepal. The conch shaped the beautiful historic city is a 12th century old. You can get to see lots of temples on step by step in the Durbar. This old city is inhabited by indigenous Newari people in a large group.
Major attractions of Bhaktapur Durbar Square:-
- 55 window palace:-
The palace containing 55 windows is one of the oldest monuments presents in Nepal. It is considered to be a unique masterpiece of woodcarvings. The 55 window palace is the main architectural structure dominating the whole Durbar. The amazing monument was built in the 15th century.
- Golden Gate:-
Golden Gate is the main entrance of the palace and it is an eternal beauty itself. Golden Gate is the most beautiful and richly molded specimen in the entire world. It is the loveliest piece of art in the whole kingdom which is placed like a jewel.
- Lions Gate:-
Lion gate is another interesting attraction of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The gate consists of two beautiful statues of stone on both sides. The art of statues are wonderful and represents the Hindus deities.
- Nyatapola Temple:-
The meaning of Nyatapola in Nepali means five storied the symbolic of five basic elements. This temple is dedicated to Siddhi Laxmi, the god of power and success. The temple is the highest pagoda of Nepal with perfection and artistic beauty.
- Bhairabnath Temple:-
It is the board fronted with a triple-roofed temple. The temple is dedicated to Bhairab, the fearsome incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Patan Durbar Square:-
Patan Durbar Square is situated at the center of Lalitpur city. It takes around 45 minutes to reach Patan Durbar Square. Similarly, this is the most beautiful and small Durbar Square among other Durbars of Kathmandu. It is a marvel of Newar architecture and all square floors are tilted with red bricks. There are lots of temples in the area close to each other. This Durbar Square is filled with a mix of Hindu, Buddhist and Newar Temples. As Patan Durbar Square is small it can be covered in an hour or two.
Whole Patan city is filled with interesting places and markets. So, it is well worth if you spend your day there because it is the best place for culture lover. Also, you will love to see old Newari houses near the Patan Durbar Square. There is lots of interesting building on the premises of Patan Durbar Square and some of them are described below:
- Patan Museum:-
Patan Durbar Museum is one of the major attractions of the valley. This museum is a national treasure and provides a very valuable introduction to art, symbolism, and architecture. The museum is the house of finest collections of the religious art in Asia. Visitors have to buy tickets to enter inside the museum and photos can be taken freely.
- Krishna Temple:-
Krishna Temple is the most important temple of Patan Durbar Square ever built a stone temple in 1637. This remarkable temple is built by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla which is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is the most visited and beautiful temple in the city. Non-Hindu people cannot enter inside the temple to see the statue of Krishna.
- Golden Temple:-
Golden Temple is located at the north side of Patan Durbar Square. The temple was built in the 12th century by King Bhaskardev. The entrance of the temple is guarded by two stone elephants and there is a statue of Shakyamuni Budhha inside the temple. There is a window above the gateway made from gold foil wrapped around a timber frame.
- Temples and Stupas:-
The temples and palaces of Patan Durbar Square have got the design of pagoda, Shikhara, and Stupa style. With the beautiful design, they also have great historical, cultural and religious significance. All the pillars, walls, doors, windows and cornice bear are wonderfully crafted.
The famous ancient Hindu temple of Changunarayan temple lies about 13 km east from the Kathmandu. The temple is considered as the oldest temple in the history of Nepal and was originally built in the 4th century. Changunarayan Temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Bishnu, the god of creation. Standing majestically in the rice field of Bhaktapur it is the true gem of Nepal. The temples are really older sculptures dotted around the courtyard. You will get to see the statue of Vishnu with the appearance of half man and half lion that is called Narsingha.
The temple is a double-roofed and beautifully decorated that clearly reflects the culture of Nepalese. At the west of time, there is a statue of Garuda, half man and the half bird is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. However, you can find inscription stone behind the statue that provides information about the history of Nepal. Some of the major attractions of Changunarayan Temple are:
- Changu Museum:-
Changu Museum is the special attraction of the temple. The museum building is clean and tidy with beautifully colored doors and carved wooden window frames. The museum is the house of the collection of artifacts, utensils, coins along with the implementation of Nepal. Visitors can see each and every historic thing inside the museum. Visiting this museum gives you an amazing feeling.
- Living Traditions Museum:-
Located at the south of Changunarayan Temple, this well-curated museum is an interesting part of the place. This is a restored building featuring 400 artifacts and displays on ethnic groups from the Kathmandu valley along with Terai, Middle, and Himalayan highlands. The site is worth to visit.
So, these all are the seven sites where you can do a short day trip inside the Kathmandu Valley. Visiting all seven sites in a day is not possible. You can visit the maximum four sites out of these seven sites in a day and you can finish these places in two days.