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 ValleyLoad map
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.
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.
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.
The opportunity of visiting a WHS made up of seven amazing locations makes the journey to Kathmandu a special treat for any WHS enthusiast. Best explored at a slow pace within a week or so, the sites can also be "ticked off" in 3 days as the following tour plan shows. Buying a self-guided tour book from some of the local shops will add more flavor to your journey.
Make your way on foot from the tourist district of Thamel to "Kathmandu Durbar Square" in order to get used to the city vibes. Allow around 1hr to get to the square and anywhere between 2 to 4 hours to explore all its buildings and museums. End your day at some rooftop cafe overlooking the square near Freak Street.
Hire a car with driver to make your way to the WHS more remote from the city center. First you can visit "Pashupatinah" and "Boudhanath" temples. After this, you need to pass by the town of Bhaktapur and up through some scenic rural areas to reach the country's oldest temple, "Changu Narayan", nestled atop a hill from which you can better admire the Kathmandu Valley. From here it's only a 20min drive to "Bhaktapur Durbar", but best plan at least 2 or 3 hours to wander around the town and see the other urban plazas and temples as well - even if not WHS proper, they are scenic, vibrant and filled with history.
Hire a cab to "Patan Durbar". Just like Bhaktapur, this is another small town with many secondary plazas and temples that can easily take up half day of exploring. Take a cab to "Swayambhunath" to enjoy the sunset at this fabulous temple overlooking the city. Alternatively, you can walk the distance in around 1,5 hrs but be prepared to pass through some rougher neighbourhoods too.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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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2021 Advisory Body overruled
ICOMOS advised In Danger Listing. Overturned by an amendment lead by Thailand (needs more time).
2007 Removed from Danger list
2003 In Danger
Loss of authenticity and threat of uncontrolled development
1985 Extension deferred
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