Kathmandu Durbar Square : It is a place where the city’s Kings were crowned. Having been built and rebuilt over the generations, it is now the valley’s number one tourist attractions. Most of the temples you see here are a mere three or four centuries old. The entire square was designated as a World Heritage Monument in 1979. The Durbar Square is teeming with shrines and statues. Walk around Kumari Chowk which is a home of “living goddesses”, she comes to the balcony at the scheduled time to welcome the guests. In the southwestern end lies Kasthamandap, Kathmandu’s oldest building and one of the oldest wooden building in the world. It is said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree in the late twelfth century. Visit Basantapur Tower, legends say Malla kings were born on the first floor of the tower, held audience in the second, viewed dancing girls on third, and climbed to the fourth floor to survey the smoke from the city’s cooking fires making sure none of the subjects were going hungry. Visit numerous temples dedicated to Hindu goddesses around the square. Durbar Square is always vibrant with the movement of vegetable vendors and antique hawkers throughout the day.
Swayambhunath Stupa : On the top of the hill west of Kathmandu value is one of the popular and instantly recognizable symbols of Nepal. It is also referred to as “Monkey Temple” by many tourists because of the large tribes of monkeys that guards the hill. Legends say after the Bodhisattva Manjushri drained the water from the lake revealing the Kathmandu valley, the lotus one the island of the lake was transformed into the hillock, and the blazing light from the lotus became the statue.
365 stone steps lead straight to one of the most sacred Buddhist sites, from where painted eyes of Swayambhunath seem to peer down your soul. Set around the base of the Stupa is a continuous series of prayer wheels, which the pilgrims spin as they circumambulate the stupa. Walk through the clusters of delicately carved Chaitya around. From the hilltop, you will have a bird’s eye view of Kathmandu valley. Early evening views are even more striking as the city lights begin to illuminate.
Pashupatinath temple : Pashupatinath is one of the sacred Shiva temples on the Indian sub-continent. It draws devotees from all over India, including many colorful Sadhus (wandering Holy men). It is the largest temple complex in Nepal. Visiting Pashupatinath begins and ends a traditional pilgrimage circuit. Lord Pashupatinath’s supreme holiness stems from hollowed linga enshrined in the main temple and its location on the bank of sacred Bagmati River. Bagmati sanctity makes Pashupatinath Nepal’s most sacred cremation site. After the bodies are burnt the ashes are thrown into the river, where they are carried down to meet Ganges.
On the festival of Maha Shivaratri during Feb/Mar lord Shiva’s marriage with goddess Parvati is celebrated with a great fair at the temple. Indian pilgrims come to this place from all around the world to celebrate this festival. As in most Hindu temples in Nepal, the admission inside the temple premises is strictly for Hindus only. For non-Hindus there is more to be seen by heading to the river bank, where you can look down into the temple from terrace hill in an opposite side. Watch the cremation going along the sacred Bagmati river.
Boudhanath Stupa : On the eastern side of Kathmandu is a huge stupa of Boudhanath. This is the largest stupa in Nepal and one of the largest in the world. It is the sacred place for Buddhist pilgrims. Once you enter the stupa complex it resembles Bharkor street of Tibet with a considerable population of Tibetans, number of thriving monasteries and many small shops selling Tibetan artifacts. Boudhanath is one of the few places in the world where Tibetan culture is accessible, vibrant and unbound.
Around the base of the stupa, there is a circular mound of 108 small images of Dhyani Buddha Amitabha. A brick wall around the stupa has 147 niches, each with four or five prayer wheels bearing the immortal mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. It is also possible to walk to upper layers of the stupa. In late afternoons, you will find the monks chanting prayers around the stupa which will produce a spiritual vibe around the complex. Always remember to walk around the stupa clockwise.
Budhanilkantha : Located 8 kms from Kathmandu lays the creator of all life, the god who reclines on the cosmic sea. It is said from his navel grew a lotus and from the lotus came Brahma, who in turn created the world. The 5 meters long image of Vishnu lies on a most unusual bed: the coils of a multi-headed snake. It was sculpted during Licchavi period, probably outside the valley and laboursely dragged here.
The snake’s 11 hooded head rise protectively around Bishnu’s head. Narayan’s four hands hold four symbols of Lord Vishnu: a chakra (representing a mind), a mace (primeval knowledge), a conch shell (the four elements) and a lotus seed (a moving universe). Devotee visit here all along the day, bringing offerings which they hand to Brahman priest. The priests are the only ones allowed to walk around Lord Vishnu’s body. This image created in the 7th or 8th century is the most impressive, if not the most important, Lord Vishnu shrine in the country.
Patan Durbar Square : Patan also known as Lalitpur is the second largest city inside the valley. Patan has a long Buddhist influence and the four corners of the city are marked by Stupas said to have been created by great Buddhist emperor around 250 BC. Durbar Square forms the heart of Patan. The Durbar Square is closely packed with temples, and with far more concentration of architecture then anywhere around the valley.
Extraordinary varieties of monuments built over centuries blend into a magical whole, each perfectly been placed and balanced. Originally this was a site a pre-Licchavi palace and later it became a favored site for the wealthy nobles who ruled Patan. Visit Krishna Mandir an exquisite example of a stone architecture. Walk around the unique Buddhist monastery of Golden temple. As you stroll through you will come across neighborhood dedicated to metalworking or stone carving, past ancient bahals and temples.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square : Bhaktapur also known as ‘Bhadgaon’ is the third largest town in the valley. The stone embedded street links a string of temples, monastery, courtyards and monumental squares. You will quickly notice how vibrant the town’s cultural life is with strong communities of potters, woodcarvers and weavers. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is much larger and much less crowded then compared to other two durbar squares. Just upon entering the square you will notice the substitute signs of four great Indian pilgrimage sites. Most recognizable is the finely carved Bansi Narayan Mandir of Bishnu.
The northern side of the square is dominated by the royal palace, most of which dates back 300-400 years. Back out in the square, fames palace of 55 windows stretches off the east. Visit Nyatapola temple, this five-roofed standing 30 meters is the tallest temple in Nepal, so perfectly balanced it has survived numerous earthquakes since its construction in 1702. In Potters square you will see hundreds of vessels of all shapes and size set out to dry. The brick paved windings street, interesting side lanes and courtyards branching off it revels the heart of Bhaktapur.
Nagarkot hill : 35 kms from Kathmandu on the eastern rim of the valley is the hill of Nagarkot (1,950m). This place offers a great mountain view. On a clear weather, views extend all the way from Mt. Dhaulagiri in the west, past Mt. Everest to Kanchenjunga in the west. While the mountains are relatively distant compared to the intimate view you will experience. Nagarkot is also a famous destination for sunset and sunrise view.
Between Octobers to March the trip to Nagarkot will be always rewarded with the view. If you walk an hour to the view tower at the highest southern point on the ridge will give you 360 degrees view from a lookout tower on the ridge. Although you can make some pleasant strolls in the surrounding country, there is an array of an interesting downhill return hikes.
Changunarayan temple : About 22 kms from Kathmandu, the beautiful temple of Changunarayan stands at the eastern hilltop of the valley. It is the valley oldest proven existing temple. Although the temple dates from 1702, the origins of the temple go back to the fourth century. Changunarayan temple is endowed with glorious metal works and woodcarvings and its courtyard is an authentic museum of a fine ancient stone sculptures.
This double roofed temple is dedicated to lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Narayan and is exceptionally beautiful, with quite amazing intricate roof struts depicting multi-armed Tantric deities. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple itself.
The much older images found in the temple courtyard are of equal interest. There are various images of lord Vishnu carrying the symbols associated with the god in his four hands. In the southwest corner, there are several notable images including Vishnu as Narsingha, his man-lion incarnation. There are also several beautiful hikes that can be started from or ended in Changunarayan.
Dhulikhel : 32 km from Kathmandu is the well preserved Newari town, mountain view point, hiking and biking hub of Dhulikhel. The peaks on the view stretch from Langang Lirung (7,246m) in the east through Dorje Lakpa (6966m) to the huge bulk of Gauri Shankar (7,145) and Melungtse (7,181m) in the west. The magnificent sunrise and sunset from Dhulikhel makes it one of the tourist attractions. The proximity to both natural beauty and historic town has added to Dhulikhel’s charm.
The Old town is an interesting area to wander around, with some fine old Newari buildings and several interesting temples. This area is comprised exclusively of four and five storey brick mansions, many with ornate wooden lattices in place of a glass window. The older buildings held together only by mud mortar, show some serious crack from the infamous 1934 earthquake. One night stay in Dhulikhel is always recommended to explore this beautiful town and glimpse sunset and sunrise over Himalayas. The surrounding country side offers interesting walks.
Dakshinkali : At the southern edge around 22kms from the valley cleft between two hills and at the confluence of two rivers lies the temple of Dakshinkali. It is the famous Hindu pilgrimage destination. This temple is dedicated to goddess Kali, and twice a week faithful Nepalese journey here to satisfy her bloodlust. Frowning and emaciated, with protruding tongue and red eyes, decked with necklace of skulls, Kali is an aspect of Shiva’s consorts Durga, appearing in a fearsome way to battle the evil. Sacrifices are made to the goddess on Tuesdays and Saturdays and the creatures to be sacrifices must be uncastrated male animals. Saturday being
Sacrifices are made to the goddess on Tuesdays and Saturdays and the creatures to be sacrifices must be uncastrated male animals. Saturday being a major sacrificial day parade of goats, chickens, pigs and even buffalo are brought here to have their throat cut from their head and the blood flows freely in the complex. During the annual celebration of Dashain in October the temple is literally washed with blood and image of Kali is bathed with it.
Non Hindus are not allowed into the actual compound where Kali’s image resides. Witnessing the sacrifice is the strange and for some confronting experience. The pathway behind the main temple uphill offers good views.
Everest experience flight/Mountain flight : Are you in Nepal to view the majestic mountains including the mighty Mount Everest? Do you have time to trek to the mountains region of the country to glimpse magnificent Himalayas or trekking itself does not interest you? If the answer to the latter is no and former is yes, do not worry you can have a life time experience by hour long Everest experience flight. This scenic flight departs every morning from Kathmandu domestic airport. This flight provides brief but stunning views of an encyclopedic assortment of peaks. After taking off from Kathmandu airport the flight curves and flies over Dhulikhel towards Jiri offering panoramic views of peaks like Langtang (7246m), Mt. Shishapangma (8027m), Mt. Dorje Lakpa (6975m) and Mt. Lapchi Kang(7367m). Now the flight banks towards north to provide close-up view of four 8000’s giants Mt. Makalu(8479m), Mt. Lhotse (8501m), Mt. Everest (8848m) and Mt. Cho Oyu (8153m). It passes over Namche Bazaar and glides back over Solu passing by Mt. Numbur (6956m) and the bulk of Gauri Shankar (7145m). After completion of this scenic flight every passengers will be handed over the completion certificate stating that have felt Mt. Everest through their heart. Individual window seat is always guaranteed in this flight. Whichever sides of the plane you may choose to be seated you will have an equal chance to view the mighty Himalayas. This flight is once in a life time experience. If you are coming to Nepal for very short period do not miss this experience.
Authentic Nepali dinner with cultural shows : Do not miss to enjoy an authentic Nepali dinner with cultural dinners once you are here in Kathmandu. This is one of the wonderful experiences to taste typical Nepali food which we call “Dal Baht” with lentils. You will be surprised with the variety of Nepalese dishes that will keep on coming. The server with a gentle smile in their face will name you every item in Nepali as well as in English language before serving you. Along with the food you will be kept entertained with typical Nepali folk shows. You will get a chance to see the dance performance of different ethnic groups of Nepal in theirs unique cultural uniform.
In this show, your taste buds will be engaged with delicious food and your eyes and ears will be entertained by unique and beautiful Nepali traditional music. You will indeed admire the live folk dance with their traditional musical instruments. The evening will end, but the memory of this evening will last for a long time.
Pokhara : After Kathmandu, Pokhara is the most popular destination in Nepal. It is also referred as city of lakes and mountains. It is also the gateway to one of the best trekking location in the world. Approx. 200 kms from Kathmandu Pokhara enjoys a mild climate, clean air, reflection of snow capped mountains on the sheltered lake. Its relaxed atmosphere is pleasantly removed from the hectic hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. Lakeside Pokhara is a traveler’s oasis. The tourist area of lakeside, stretched out along the southeast shore of the valley’s largest lake. Lakeside has its own charm especially in the evenings when darkness hides the clutter and shops are lit up like a Christmas trees. Foothills separate Pokhara from Himalayas.
The massive peaks of Annapurnas rising from the valley floor loom large. Though, it is the much closer Mt. Fishtail (6997m), which dominates the skyline. The valley boosts three lakes Rupa Tal and Begnas tal in the east, while the third and largest, Phewa Tal, is the focal point for Pokhara’s tourist enclave. You may enjoy paddling around Phewa Tal enjoying the beauty and tranquility of the lake with the picture perfect reflection of Himalayas on the lake.
You must visit Sarangkot to witness the illumination on the majestic Himalayas. Walk around the Phewa lake in the evening sipping beer that are easily available in the lakeside restaurants.
Sarangkot : At an elevation of 1592m, Sarangkot is probably the most popular short excursion from Pokhara. It is perfect viewpoint to admire the mountain views and splendid panorama. The panoramic view includes a glimpse of Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Annapurna South and Mt. Hiunchuli with the bulk of Mt. Annapurna behind, unmistakable mt. Fishtail, Mt. Annapurna III, IV and II and Lamjung Himal. Pre-dawn excursion to Sarangkot is recommended to view beautiful sunrise over the Himalayas. The sight of shimmering Phewa Lake is stunning enough, but to the north the hillside drops straight down to Suikhet valley, with a breathtaking vista of Mt. Dhaulagiri, the Annapurna range, and Mt, Fishtail filling the horizon. Sarangkot once had a fort which can be seen on the very top of the ridge just a few minutes’ walk above the village.
Chitwan : Established in 1973 Chitwan National park offers one of the finest wildlife experiences in Asia. Situated in south central Nepal, the park covers 932 Sq. Km in sub-tropical low lands of Terai. About one-fifth of the park is savanna with over 70 different species of grasses, known generically as “elephant grass”. Chitwan is among Asia’s finest national park, renowned for its variety and abundance of wildlife, and its top-class tourist lodges and Jungle activities. You have to be extremely lucky to see one of its elusive tigers and leopards.
Chitwan is among Asia’s finest national park, renowned for its variety and abundance of wildlife, and its top class tourist lodges and Jungle activities. You have to be extremely lucky to see one of its elusive tigers and leopards. However, an elephant safari is unforgettable and you are almost certain to see one horned rhino, various species of deer, monkeys and numerous species of birds. Stalking the animals, whether by elephant, dugout canoe, jeep or foot is the main activity here. Chitwan’s big appeal is a pervasive sense of relaxation, which soaks deeper the longer you stay.
Lumbini : Birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama- the founder of Buddhism, known as Buddha or the enlightened one is the famous Buddhist pilgrimage site in Nepal. For about one billion Buddhist, Lumbini is where it all began. This is confirmed by the existence of an inscribed pillar erected after 318 years after the event by Buddhist emperor Ashoka, and by the remains of Ancient ruins all over. After entering through the main entrance gate at a southeastern edge, the road leads to the Sacred Garden where Buddha was reputedly born. Sacred Garden contains all archeological treasures associated with the Buddha’s birth.
There are two monastic zones filled with the array of temples, overlooked by the grand Shanti Stupa or Peace Pagoda. Wetland reserve has been established for endangered sarus crane, and about 600,000 trees have been planted throughout the site attracting many birds and animals. The center piece of Sacred Garden is Maya Devi temple which contains brickworks dating back to 300 BC. West of the temple is, the Ashokan Pillar which is the oldest monument in Nepal. The square, cement-lined pool just south of the pillar is supposed to be where Maya Devi bathed before giving birth to Buddha.
Bardia National park : The largest undisturbed wilderness in the country lies way out in the far western region of Nepal. With more accessible Chitwan becoming a mass-market, Bardia National Park on the western side is still widely undisturbed from the tourist movements. Encompassing area of 550 square kilometers, Bardia spans a greater range of habitats than Chitwan. The animal viewing is also much better than in Chitwan (there is a good change of spotting a majestic Bengal tiger) and it is much more unspoiled than Chitwan. Being 585 km by road from Kathmandu or 1 hrs flight to Nepalgunj and a three hour drive makes this place harder to reach. Many have said the exclusiveness of Bardia provides superior experience as compared to Chitwan. The park fauna includes elusive majestic Bengal tiger, endangered species small herd of elephants, swamp deer, spotted deer, wild boar which are in plentiful, sambar, hog deer, sloth beer, rhinos and leopard. There is plenty of fine accommodation available in Bardia.
Janakpur : Also known as Janakpurdham, is the holy site of Hindus and it central temple Janaki Mandir, is a must stop on a Hindu pilgrimage circuit. Janakpur 135 kms from Kathmandu is considered as birthplace of Sita, daughter of King Janak and beloved heroine of Hindu epic Ramayana. This city is small and possesses a strong Indian influence. Almost every day busload of white clad, clapping and singing pilgrims make their stop here for worship. Janaki Mandir is the famous attraction here. This temple is like a conventional Mughal style. Its outer building encloses a courtyard and inner sanctum, where at least twice a day priest draw back a curtain to reveal an intricate silver shrine and perform ritual for attending worshippers. The temple is also a traditional place for boys to undergo the ritual of (the first shaving of the head). Janakpur is bit inconvenient to reach unless you fly directly from Kathmandu.
Bandipur : Small town of Bandipur stands on a dramatic ridge with excellent views of the Marshyangdi valley and sweep of Himalayas from Mt. Dhaulagiri to Mt. Langtang. It is a beautiful hilltop village colonized by Newars in the 1800s. Today town is the perfect place to get the feel for Newari life. The architecture and the ambience of Bandipur are medieval. You may walk around the village. There are a few small Hindu temples. For impressive views of Himalayas, you will have to make a short steep walk to Thani Mai Temple. Sunrise and sunset are spectacular from this place. An easy 30 minutes’ walk will take you to a silk farm. The Siddha Gufa is the ‘must see’ attraction in Bandipur. This sight lies below the town, and is in fact 1.5 hours walk. The limestone formation within the cave is impressive and undamaged. When driving to/from Pokhara, you may make a stop to visit this beautiful Newari village.
Gorkha : 150 kms north from Kathmandu sits the cradle of the Nation Gorkha. Even though it is relatively painless half-day ride from Pokhara, Kathmandu or Chitwan, it still remains strangely untouristed. This is in fact a very fascinating place. Some of the buildings which you see here is believed to date from the reign of King Ram Shah (1606-36). Later, there has been some improvisation utilizing Newari artesian. You will have a superb view of the plunging valleys and the soaring Himalayas. Being a central place for the Nepal’s royal family, it occupies a central place in Nepal history. The famous attraction of Gorkha Durbar is hunched on the hilltop above the market is an architectural triumph. The hill side have network of paths and retaining walls that may have cost fortune to build. The walk along the ridges is rewarding with stupendous views of Mt. Ganesh and Mt. Annapurna. Visit Tallokot, a small, old fort now used as a sacrificial site. Photography is not permitted once you enter durbar premises. Also you are not allowed to weather leather inside the complex. Visit Kalika temple which has superb woodcarvings. Only a special caste of Brahmain priest and kings can enter. A day visit to Gorkha is best way to get to know about Nepal history.
Changunarayan/Nagarkot hike (approx. 3 hrs. hike) : This is one of the famous countryside hikes that you can indulge in when you have a free day in Kathmandu. You will be walking through the valley rim with fabulous mountain view on one side of the trail and with beautiful farm and terraces field on the other. On this hike you will pass through the villages where you can have a rich experience of their lifestyle and culture. The trail is wide enough and a hiking shoe will do the job of making an easy walk through.
You will first drive to Changunarayan temple which is the valleys olden proven temple. It is approximately an hour drive to Changunarayan. You will be astounded by its glorious metal works and wood carvings. After a short visit to the temple the trail goes uphill to Nagarkot, which is the most famous spot for panoramic mountain and landscape views. Throughout the hike you will encounter with school kids and the way they look at you with their innocent eyes will simply make you adore them. You will glimpse the authentic Nepali village lifestyle, with women involved in their household chores and men involved grazing their livestock or working at the terraced farm. With the fabulous mountain view on the other side you will forget how long you have hiked as you will be busy gazing through your camera lenses to get a perfect snap. After 3 hours of hiking you will arrive to Nagarkot. You can have a quick lunch and adore the views from the top. Later, you will drive back to the hotel and will be transferred to your hotel.