[left][float=left]Nepal is the country with various unique features. Nepal is the only country having seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the range of 15 Kms. These seven heritage sites are located within Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu Valley comprises of three districts: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur. Within Kathmandu there are 4 heritage sites (Pashupatinath, Bauddhanath, Swayambhunath and Kathmandu Durbar Square). Bhaktapur has two of those seven heritage sites (Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Changunarayan) and Patan having the remaining one (Patan Durbar Square).
These seven heritage sites have been the center of attractions in Kathmandu valley. They are the major tourism sightseeing area of Kathmandu valley. Daily these areas have been receiving thousands of tourists. These touristic areas have been the major source for generating revenue. Tourists need to pay entry fee to visit these areas. These areas highlight the religious as well as cultural. Newar community is the indigenous community of Kathmandu Valley. In Kathmandu Valley you will mostly find Newar community people. In Kathmandu valley, if you wish you can taste some spicy Newari cuisines.
Some descriptions of the above mentioned heritage sites are:
1. Pashupatinath Temple:
Pashupatinath temple is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world. This temple is located in Kathmandu. The temple lies on the bank of the holy “Baghmati River”. The temple has been the centre of attraction for most of the Hindu tourists. In a year millions of Hindu pilgrims visit the temple of Pashupatinath. On the day of Shivaratri, about one million people of Nepal and India visit the temple. The main temple of Pashupatinath is opened only for the Hindus. The non-Hindu tourist can watch the temple from the opposite bank of Baghmati River. The main temple of Pashupatinath is of Pagoda style. This temple has Shiva Linga as the main statue and the very statue is worshipped by the Hindus. The temple has 4 priests entitled “Bhatta”. These priests come from a part of South India. These priests are only allowed to touch the main statue. Pashupatinath temple is taken as the main temple. The main statue of Shiva Linga has five faces; four of them facing the four directions and one facing the upward direction. The temple has four doors made up of silver and the roofs made of bronze with gold coverings. Around the main temple there are temples of Krishna, Bhairava, Basuki (the Snake God), etc. Similarly, to the opposite bank of Baghmati River there are the temples of Rama, Biswaroop and Guheswori. They all have their own significance. On the east part of Pashupatinath temple there is a small forest known as “Slesmantak Ban”. This forest is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva wandered in the form of Mirga (Nepali name for deer). So this small forest is popular by the name Mirgasthali (the place where deer lives).
Dead bodies are burnt just below the temple on the bank of Baghmati River. The tourists can watch the dead bodies being burnt and the rituals performed to burn it. Similarly, you can also watch the rituals that are carried out after the death of the person. There is a Kriyaputri Bhawan (the place where 13 days rituals are carried out after the death) on the Southern part of the temple. Similarly, on the opposite bank of crematorium you might see the son’s and daughter of the dead ones performing the rituals that are performed annually remembering their dead parents. The entry fee for this heritage site is 10 US $ (NRs 1,000) for the foreigners and free for the SAARC countries.
2. Bauddhanath Stupa:
Bauddhanath Stupa is the one of the biggest stupa in the world. This stupa lies just 4 kilometers away from the Tribhuvan International Airport. It is about 10 minutes drive from Pashupatinath temple. There are many tales and myths about the Bauddhanath Stupa. Bauddhanath Stupa has been the major destination for the Tibetan community people and local Buddhist followers. There are various small stupas around this main stupa. You can find various monks/nuns around the stupa. Bauddhanath Stupa is made in stupa style. The design of Bauddhanath is designed in very artistic manner. On the bottom, there are three Mandala shaped platforms, above it there are two circular bases supporting the main stupa. Then, there is large hemisphere. And above the hemisphere, there is a square part made up of metal known as “Harmika”. The square part has two eyes and a nose shaped design carved on the four directions. Then above it there are 13 rectangular steps that symbolize the thirteen steps for enlightenment. Above those thirteen steps there are three parts; a metal lotus, an umbrella and a pinnacle. Prayer flags are tied to the stupa. It is believed that when the wind flutters the flags the mantras are carried to the heaven. Many Buddhists visit the stupa daily. On the day of Buddha Purnima thousands of Buddhist pilgrimages visit the stupa. It is located one of the busy area. This biggest stupa is located inside the crowded area surrounded by houses all around. Here you can see people meditating, chanting mantras, spinning pray wheels, etc.
3. Changunarayan Temple:
Changunarayan Temple is a Hindu temple. This temple is situated at the hilltop of Changu village. And this temple is associated with Lord Vishnu, who is also known as “Narayan”. Hence, its name has been derived as Changunarayan. This temple is located few kilometers north of Bhaktapur. It is about 22 kilometers east of Kathmandu. This temple is famous for the arts and architecture dating many centuries ago. This two storyed temple is made up in Pagoda style. The main temple consist the statue of Lord Vishnu. Around this temple there are many statues and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses that were made around 7th century. This temple is the oldest temple in Kathmandu valley. There is also museum that has the arts and carvings from Lichchhavi dynasty. Except the main temple there are some old sculptures and arts of various deities. This temple has some myths behind its establishment. From the day of establishment the descendants of the Sudarshan Brahmin have been the priest of this holy temple. In front of this Hindu temple there is an oldest written inscription of Nepal. This stone inscription was erected by Lichchhavi King Mandeva in 464 AD. It is about 10 feet high. On the bottom of the pillar there is a statue of tortoise. The statue of Garuda on the top of the pillar has fallen down so it has been kept alongside the pillar. The entry fee for the temple is Rs. 100 for foreigners and Rs. 20 for SAARC nationals. Similarly Rs. 200 for the entry fee to the museum.
4. Swayambhunath Stupa:
Swayambhunath stupa is situated at the top of the hill in Kathmandu. The temple is in the western part of Kathmandu city. This temple is also famous with the name “monkey temple”.
Though it is Buddhist temple both Hindu and Buddhists worship this temple. This temple is also the symbol of religious tolerance. The word “Swayambhu” is the combination of two Sanskrit words “Swayam” and “bhu”, where Swayam means self and Bhu means existing/created. So the temple Swayambhunath refers to the temple which was self created. According to Swayambhu Puran, Swayambhunath temple was created around 2000 years ago from a lotus flower. The architectural design of Swayambhunath stupa is similar to Bauddhanath Stupa. There are various temples and shrines around the main stupa around. Among them Akshobya, Vairocana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amogsiddhi, Tara, etc are some of the important temples. The temple can be reached by climbing 365 staircases, which represents 365 days of our life. The entry fee for this religious site is Rs. 200 for the foreigners.
5. Kathmandu Durbar Square:
Kathmandu Durbar Square is also known as Basantapur Durbar Square. It is located at the heart of Kathmandu. Most of the temples, idols and palace around this durbar area was built at the time of Malla Kings. The durbar was used by the shah kings after dethroning Malla king from Kathmandu. This area highlights the art and style of Newari culture. There are various temples and statues around Basantapur Durbar Square area. There is a nine story palace known as Nautale Durbar. Similarly, Hanuman Dhoka Museum, Kasthamandap, Taleju temple are some major attractions around durbar area. Kumari Temple “The Home of Living Goddess” is in front of the palace. Kumari is regarded as the only living goddess in the world. You can have the sight of the living goddess Kumari but cannot take the Photographs. “Kasthamandap” is a Pagoda style temple which was built from wood of a single tree. It was built in the sixteenth century by the Malla king. There are various tales and historical evidences about this durbar area. On the occasion of Basanta Panchami, Indra Jatra and Seto Machhindranath Jatra large number of people gather around this area. The entrance fee for this area is Rs 750 for all the tourists and free for the child below 10 years.
6. Patan Durbar Square:
Patan Durbar Square is located few kilometers south of Kathmandu. Majority of Newar community people reside around the durbar area. Patan is regarded as one of the ancient Buddhist city of Nepal. This area is full of Hindu as well as Buddhist religions temple and monuments. There are famous temples and monuments around this area. Krishna Mandir is one of them. It is believed Krishna Mandir was built from single stone. It is the temple built in Shikhar style. The walls of this temple have stone carvings that tell the story of Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. This temple was also built during the time of Malla kings. This temple was built in the early 17th century. Except Krishna Mandir there are Bhimsen Temple, Golden Temple and Taleju Temple. Similarly there is Patan Durbar Museum right in front of the famous Krishna Mandir. The entry fee for Patan Durbar Square is Rs. 500 for foreign tourists and Rs 150 for Chinese nationals.
7. Bhaktapur Durbar Square:
Bhaktapur Durbar Square lies in the area surrounded by the old Newar community from all sides. Bhaktapur is famous for the old Newari culture. Most of the people in Bhaktapur are Newar. Bhaktapur Durbar is exactly situated to the east of Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is the most beautiful city of the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is rich in terms of art and culture. We can find wooden arts, stone arts and metal arts in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is famous for Thanka panting. Most of the people visiting Bhaktapur do not miss to taste Jujudhau (local name of curd). It is the curd made by the local of Bhaktapur. The taste of Jujudhau is marvelous. Around Bhaktapur there are various things to watch.
The famous Nyatapola Temple (the five stories pagoda style temple) is the main attraction of Bhaktapur. Similarly, 55 Window Palace, Dattatreya Temple, Golden Gate, Mini Pashupati are some major attractions of Bhaktapur. There are three museums within the durbar square area. The museum near the main gate of Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the National Art Gallery. It is the museum of normal paintings, Thanka paintings, etc. The second one is Wood Carving Museum, and the third one is Metalwork Museum.
You will also love to see the Pottery Square (Potter’s Square), where you can see the clay works done by the locals. The local name for the potters is Kumale. Here you can notice that though the Bhaktapur city is very near to the capital, locals still use their hands to make pots and other materials made of clay. Still the traditional way of making pot is being carried out by the locals. After entering inside the Golden Gate we reach the Taleju temple. Non Hindu tourists are not allowed to enter the temple. The entry fee for the Bhaktapur Durbar Square is Rs. 1500 for the foreigners and Rs. 100 for the Chinese nationals & tourist from the SAARC nations.