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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu Valley harbours famous examples of Hindu and Buddhist temples, and Newari architecture.

The monuments included under the wing of the Kathmandu-valley are: Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Changu Narayan, Syambhunath Stupa, Pashupatinath and Bouddhanath Stupa.

The city of Kathmandu (formerly Kantipur) has its origins in the 8th century, and had its heyday in the 16th-18th century. The city-center is like an open air-museum, in which people still live. There are a lot of buildings in the characteristic style, made of wood and with lots of decorations.

Map of Kathmandu Valley


  • Cultural

Visit July 1993, February 2001, September 2007

On my first visit in 1993, the Hindu-temple of Pashupatinath became my favorite. It is a very serene place, a Nepalese version of the better known Indian ghats (in f.e. Varanasi). I arrived on a tour from Northern India and found Kathmandu the ideal place to relax after the dirt and crowds of India.

July 1993, February 2001, September 2007

Eight years later, I am back. Despite the increased number of cars and hotels, Kathmandu Durbar Square I found as magic as ever. Just sitting there, among the number of monuments, watching Nepalese life go by, is one of the best things to do here. I revisited most of the popular sites in the valley, and also took trips to smaller places like Kirtipur, Changu Narayan and Buddhanilkantha.

July 1993, February 2001, September 2007

On my third visit I was very unlucky at first with the weather. The "Kathmandu Post" newspaper wrote about a monsoon that stayed on longer than the normal 23rd of September. I had one dry day to revisit my old favourites Kathmandu Durbar Square and Bodnath Stupa. One of the things I especially like about this WHS is the active role it plays in the numerous festivals of Nepal. This time it was Indra Jatra, where the mask of Seto Bhairab is shown to the public.

A week later, arriving from Dhulikhel, the sun was shining again in Kathmandu. This gave me the opportunity to revisit Swayambunath and Patan, as pretty and much the same as I remember them from 1993.

July 1993, February 2001, September 2007

Community Reviews

Shannon O'Donnell USA - 16-Sep-18 -

Kathmandu Valley by Shannon O'Donnell

I spent two months in Nepal, and good amount of that time was in the Kathmandu Valley volunteering in the town of Pharping and exploring the Valley outside the of the city. Kathmandu itself just oozes history and although it suffers from some serious air pollution, which leaves buildings and vibes a bit grimy at times, it's also easy to overlook that side since it holds so many historic sites. Although the earthquake damaged some of the main historic sites, they are not gone and the fact that most still stand is a testament to the city's long and rich timeline. 

If you're staying in the Thamel area of the city, know that there's a lot more to the city than just that, and you should explore not just the main sites and things to do in Kathmandu, which are spread across the city, but also the neighborhoods around these other sites—that's where you'll find so many other locals and restaurants and aspects that have made Kathmandu the historic city it is. 

My favorite of the key sites include:

  • Boudhanath Stupa (of course, this is a key site and truly beautiful to visit and walk around the circle around it, just as the local pilgrims do when they visit). 
  • Hanuman Dhoka (Durbar Square)
  • The home and story of the Kumari Ghar
  • Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
  • Pashupatinath Temple

Beyond those things, the next best thing you can do is leave the city and go to the villages, the homestays and such that dot the Kathmandu Valley. 

Read more from Shannon O'Donnell here.

Aarbi Nepal - 17-Feb-15

Hello all the readers-I somehow came across this article and honestly it feels proud to have read all these positive views as I am a resident of the valley.I understand that the valleys situation has quite degraded because of political matters and not to mention the negligence of people .As a matter of fact it hurts me when this heavenly place degrades every secoond and noone is looking and I am sorry on behalf of those who are concerned if the visitors experiences any kind of inconvenience.It is hard for all us to not be able to enjoy the gifts of the valley to the utmost.However I should like to say this - we will try harder and changes will come.I guess this is something time will heal.So I keep on hoping for the better part of the valley and truly I am glad you enjoyed being in my country.I hope it will always remain in your heart.I was born in this valley and I will love it for evermore and I hope someday people who visit this place will only return with smiling faces.

Bill Duckworth USA - 21-Sep-13

I have been to the Kathmandu Valley several times and I love it ther very much. Ir's alive with people and businesses and restaurants and historical sites of "Old Kathmandu" and love it there, like walking back in time several hundred years. The spirit of the country is reflected here an the people are very friendly and open to good conversations. I have been there on 7 fiffernt times and it is like a second home to me.

Clyde Malta - 08-Apr-13 -

Kathmandu Valley by Clyde

This must be one of the most expensive WHS but still it is well worth visiting all 7 sites. My personal favourite is Pashupatinath, a smaller version of Varanasi and the Ganges in India. Cremation goes on day and night in the filthy Bagmati river and it is always full of locals especially on Saturdays.

Boudnath is said to be the world's largest stupa complex. Many Tibetan Gompas to visit nearby the stupa and truly a spiritual place.

Swayambhunath is a similar stupa in Kathmandu also known as Monkey Temple because of the monkeys roaming freely around it.

Changu Narayan is in Bhaktapur district and is well worth the visit. Less tourists and beautiful stone sculptures.

The 3 Durbar Squares are packed with stupas, temples, carvings, stone sculptures, etc. and in order of preference are : Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon), Kathmandu and Patan (Lalitpur). All deserve at least 1-2 days each.

alison oliver u.k. - 10-Mar-11

Its been 20 years since i visited nepal and it will truely stay in my heart forever - it was a life-changing experience for me and will never forget it. I met such lovely people and saw sites i had only dreamt of - nepal is a place close to heaven in every sense and hope that people will visit, enjoy and respect it. Kathmandu valley is the most beautiful place iv had the good fortune to travel to and is worth a visit just for its sheer magnificence.The people are inspirational and being in the mountains made me see why the nepalese are so devoutly religious - nepal brought joy into my life and that is where i go in my head when i need to - thankyou nepal and the people of nepal for making such a difference to my life :)

Caroline Toma Canada - 22-May-10

I just returned from a visit to Kathmandu this April. I was hugely disappointed to see that Kathmandu was no longer the "lush tropical paradise amidst the Himalayas" that I had pictured it to be, but rather the worst example of uncontrolled urban sprawl and air pollution that I have ever seen. When I arrived in the valley after crossing through the hills we could practically cut the air with a knife! I asked one of my tour guides about air pollution controls and was told that these were in place, but that the police who were supposed to enforce the "green sticker" policy for vehicles in Kathmandu regularly accepted bribes in exchange for the green sticker on the windshield of vehicles permitted to drive in the city.

Nevertheless, I loved the people and spirituality that permeated every street and alleyway of Kathmandu. It is practically impossible to walk anywhere without stumbling over a stupa or some kind of shrine, no matter how small, and the people were some of the kindest and gentlest people I have met on my travels.

I will definitely visit Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal again in future and can only hope that some of the conditions will have improved by then.

Ekta Shah USA - 29-Apr-08

I have never seen himalayas. But, Kathmandu is the place where I was grown n lived. I miss everything-festivals, monuments n all.

I hope we will always have peace in our country.

Stephen Brooker UK - 24-Apr-08

I first visited Kathmandu in 1990 and returned in the fall of 2007.

On my first visit the journey from Kathmandu to Bahktpur, was a short drive through open countryside, now the whole journey is through urban sprawl - a huge disappointment.

I was told, by our guide, that the valleys population has nearly trebled since the start of the Moaist insurgency. Due to people seeking the safety of Kathmandu. This is both a human tragedy, and a tragedy for our collective human heritage.

That said, there is still plenty to enjoy and be inspired by. Bodonath, Pashinunpronoucable, Bahktpur etc. I would also, from my first visit, recomend the intimate but enjoyable national museum - although I never made it back last November.

devi malaysia -

I went to Nepal in June. It was always my dream destination but the main reason i wanted to go there was to see the bouddhanath stupa. This buddist temple with the eyes penetrating has always fascinated me. But what i never expected was to discover so many hindu temples in nepal. Going without expecting is always an experience. The best temple among the ones i visited is of course pasupathinath.

I missed out the shangu narayana temple and the bathrakali temple. That is why i visited this site.

Nepal is an exotic country to visit. I would want to visit again all those places that i missed out.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 4.40. Based on 10 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Kathmandu Valley

Unesco ID: 121

Inscribed: 1979

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 3   4   6  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2007 - Removed from Danger list 
  • 2003 - In Danger Loss of authenticity and threat of uncontrolled development
  • 1985 - Extension deferred 
  • 1979 - Inscribed 


The site has 7 locations.

  • Kathmandu Valley: Bauddhanath
  • Kathmandu Valley: Bhaktapur Durbar Square
  • Kathmandu Valley: Changunarayan
  • Kathmandu Valley: Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square
  • Kathmandu Valley: Pashupati
  • Kathmandu Valley: Patan Durbar Square
  • Kathmandu Valley: Swayambhu


The site has 29 connections.



  • Destroyed or damaged by Earthquake: 15 January 1934 ("The three towns of Nepal—Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan were severely affected and almost all the buildings collapsed") & 25 April 2015  Link


  • Himalaya: Foothills
  • Ganges: Bagmati River - Pashmutinath is on its banks. In India it flows into the Koshi and then the Ganges


Human Activity

Individual People

  • Ekai Kawaguchi: A commemorative shrine of his visit exists at Bodnath

Religion and Belief

  • Goddesses: Kumari the "Living Goddess"
  • Pagoda: Nyatapola Pagoda (Bhaktapur) - (brick, wood) - five stories (30 meters); Malla Dynasty
  • Stupa
  • Tibetan Buddhism: Boudhanath stupa, Swayambhunath religious complex (although mainly Newar Buddhist)
  • Virginity: The living goddess Kumari lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of Kathmandu. The word "Kumari" is derived from Sanskrit Kaumarya meaning "virgin"
  • Hindu pilgrimage sites: Pashupatinath Temple - Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple, that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings' (wiki)


  • Built in the 14th century: "until 14th century and the arrival of the Mallas, which is an important period for the flourishing of Nepalese art and architecture. These developed into a growing spiritual orientation towards Tantrism, making it difficult to separate purely Buddhist from purely Hindu art." (AB ev)


WHS on Other Lists

  • World Monuments Watch (past): Teku Thapatali Monument Zone, Itum Baha Monastery (2002, 2000, 1996), Patan Royal Palace Complex, Patan (2006) Cultural Heritage Sites of Nepal (2016)
  • Global Heritage Fund: Bhaktapur
  • UNESCO 'LEAP' program
  • U.S. Ambassadors Fund : Restoration of Chaugara Sattal at Changu Narayan (2011), Restoration of 17th-Century Water Architecture in the Patan Royal Palace (2009), Restoration of Patan Royal Palace (2009), Restoration of the 17th-Century Machali Pati (2006), Restoration of the 5th-Century BC Nag Bahal Hiti in Patan (2006), Restoration of 17th-Century Mahadev Twin Temples Durbar Square in Kathmandu (2005), Restoration of the 19th-Century Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Durbar Square in Kathmandu (2005), Restoration of the Mid-18th-Century Kageswar Mahadev Temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square (2004), Restoration of the 17th-Century Kalo Bhairav Shrine (2003), Restoration and Seismic Strengthening of the Early 20th‐Century Gaddi Baithak in Kathmandu Durbar Square (2016)

World Heritage Process


172 community members have visited Kathmandu Valley.