Nepal has many different things to offer for sightseeing. The natural beauty and Himalayan views, the culture and traditions, the historical monuments, art and architecture, Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas and monasteries, its people and rites, myths and mysteries which are a part of the daily life of the people of Nepal. Kathmandu is the first arrival point for most visitors. Mountains surround the valley and it is divided into the three major cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. These were once three different kingdoms and to this day they retain their own rich artistic styles and traditions. Out of the valley there are also many other beautiful unexplored destinations, and sightseeing packages are available for several of them.
Kathmandu Durbar Square:
Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the major attractions in the valley. The words “Durbar Square” translate in English as palace complex. Durbar Square is listed as a World Heritage Site, and clustered around it is the old royal palace, which has been converted into a well-equipped museum. Numerous other beautiful temples, shrines, Kumari Bahal, House of the living Goddess, Kastamandap (a house built from the wood of a single tree) and other small temples are scattered all around in the square. The main palace building is 9 stories high and visitors can reach the top to experience panoramic views of the city.
Patan Durbar Square:
Patan Durbar Square is a concentrated mass of temples, and is the most stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen anywhere in Nepal. Listed as a World Heritage Site, the former Royal Palace complex is the center of Patan's religious and social life, and it houses a museum containing an array of bronze statues and religious objects. One remarkable monument here is a 17th century temple dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Krishna, which is built entirely of stone.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square:
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is much larger and more spacious than Kathmandu's and much less crowded with temples than Patan. The disastrous earthquake in 1934 destroyed many of the beautiful monuments in the square which are now marked only by empty platforms where they once stood. Some of the most popular monuments and main attractions are the golden gate, peacock window and the Nyatapola temple.
Swayambhunath is one of the most ancient Stupas in the Kathmandu valley. It lies on the top of a hill in the west of the valley. The unique architecture of Swayambhunath is one of the most easily recognizable symbols of Nepal. From here one can enjoy a spectacular view of Kathmandu City. Legend says that during ancient times the valley was a lake and it was known as the Serpent's Lake. Saint Manjushree is reputed to have separated the southern part of the valley and drained the water from it. The Swayambhu was the entrance point and became a most important pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists.
Boudhanath is the largest Buddhist Stupa in Nepal. It is religious center for the Buddhist people. Surrounding the stupa there are many different monasteries belonging to different Buddhist sects. Most visitors go to the Stupa for sightseeing and shopping and for Tibetan handicrafts in particular. During the day of the full moon many Buddhist people come to celebrate and take part in various religious activities, but every day you will see hundreds of Bhuddist pilgrims circling the stupa in prayer..
Pashupatinath is one of the holiest pilgrimage destinations for Hindus all over the world. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the oldest temples on the bank of the holy Bagmati river. Various religious activities take place here almost every day. Sadhus (holymen) from many different countries, especially from India, visit the temple to pay homage to Lord Shiva. There are Ghats in the bank of Bagmati River, which are rectangular and made of stone. The long rectangular ghats are for the cremation of dead bodies and the square ones are for ritual baths.
Museums in Kathmandu
One of Nepal's delights is the variety of Museums found in the Kathmandu Valley. As rich as Nepal's unique culture and landscape, these museums provide a fascinating look into Nepal's art, people, history and architecture. They also serve as an enjoyable serene alternative to the vigours of walking and trekking in the countryside.
This temple is situated on a scenic hill top 20 km from Kathmandu and 7 km from Bhaktapur. King Hari Dutta Verma built this temple. The temple is decorated with magnificent art works made of metal and woodcarvings. This is the finest example of Nepalese pagoda architecture. The inscription at Changunarayan is the oldest recorded in history, dating from the 4th century. Its history dates back to the Lichhavi period when the Lichhavi king Manadeva installed pillars in 464 AD. The temple is worth visiting to see the architectural and iconography combination.
Nagarkot is a popular place to see the Himalayan mountain ranges, particularly at sunrise. It lies at an altitude of 2175m and it is 32 km north east of Kathmandu. It is the nearest place to enjoy real panoramic views of the Kathmandu valley. From Nagarkot the nearby mountains are Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Dorje Lakpa, Sishapangma, Gauri Shanker and more. When the sun begins to rise from behind the Himalayas the view is spectacular as the mountains change color. Many tourists go to Nagarkot and stay overnight in order to enjoy the sunrise and the scenic beauty of the countryside. From Nagarkot one can hike to Changunarayan, Banepa and to Sankhu Vajrayogini.
Dhulikhel is an ancient small town situated 30km away from Kathmandu. The drive from Kathmandu to Dhalikhel is very scenic, and the beautiful rice terraces on both sides of the road are spectacular. It is a popular panoramic Himalayan viewpoint, which is also a good starting place for short treks where visitors can stretch their legs before starting out on a longer trek.
The small village of Daman is another interesting place for viewing the mountains. One can see the whole 400km mountain range from Dhaulagiriin in the west all the way to Mt. Everest. Daman lies 2323m above sea level. It is 85km southwest from Kathmandu and it is also the location of one of the most spectacular mountain-bike routes in the world.
Lumbini is situated about 250km southwest of Kathmandu. This is a very famous site for Buddhist pilgrimage because Lord Buddha was born here in 560 BC. The birth of Buddha at Lumbini has been recorded in the pillar inscription 'The Light of Asia'. There is not much to see and do other than to experience the peaceful environment and to enjoy the inner sense of tranquility. In some ways nearby Tilaurakot, the site of Kapilavastu, the fortress-palace where Buddha was raised as a prince of the royal family is even more evocative.
Tansen lies 1310m above sea level, at the southern slope of the Mahabharat range. It is situated on the way from Pokhara to Sunauli, known as the Siddhartha highway. Tansen city itself is very colorful with its old houses and rugged hilly landscapes. Many different types of people, including Magar, Brahmin, Chhetri, Newar, live in this city. It is popular for its metal crafts and Dhaka cloth, shawls and caps. Places to visit in Tansen include Shrinagar hill Amarnarayan temple and Tansen Durbar.
Bandipur ( A typical Newari Village):
Located on a 1,000m ridge in Tanhu district some 140km from Kathmandu, Bandipur's hallmark is its beautiful scenery. Bandipur is a part of western Nepal. In the eastern part of the town is the pagoda-roofed Bindabasini temple which houses goddess Durga, Bandipur's guardian deity . The rich wooden carvings and detailed brass-work that adorn the temple are replicas of those found in the many old pagoda structures of the Kathmandu Valley.
Pokhara is the second major tourist destination in Nepal. It is 200km west of Kathmandu. Standing at 884m above the sea level, Pokhara offers a mild climate. It is famous for the natural beauty of its lakeside location and its proximity to the mountains. Especially stunning are the views of Machapuchhare at 6997m (also known as the Fishtail mountain) and of the Annapurna range (over 8000m). There are many places well worth a visit around this beautiful city, such as Phewa Lake and the Varahi Temple on its island, David's falls, Mahendra Cave, as well as the panoramic mountain views. Activities such as boating, fishing and canoeing can be organized on the Phewa Lake. Pokhara is also an excellent starting point for a variety of mountain trekking routes, and offers many other sporting opportunities such as white-water rafting, kayaking and paragliding.
Everest Base Camp:
The Khumbu region of Nepal is one of the best-known treks in the world. This is the land of the Sherpa people and many of the world's great 8,000 meter peaks. Many trekkers walk in from the roadhead at Jiri, through the lovely rolling hills of the Solu region. Others fly in to the village of Lukla to start their trek.
Gorkha ( A origin of Shah Dynasty):
Gorkha is the birthplace of King Prithvi Narayan Shah the Great, the founder of modern Nepal. The great King Prithvi Narayan Shah unifying the Nepal in the eighteenth century, with Gorkha soldiers under his dynamic leadership eventually succeeded in conquering the Kathmandu valley. The status of capital of Nepal, of course, has now moved to Kathmandu, but this beautiful township has always remained as the center of attraction for many Nepalese as well as foreign visitors.