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Cultural Tours in Nepal
The Valley consists of three main cities of great historic and cultural interest Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon). Situated at an altitude of 1336 meter above the sea level, the Kathmandu Valley covers an area of 218 sq. miles. The major tourist attractions in Kathmandu include:
Machchhendranath Temple: The temple of Machchhendranath is situated at Machchhendra Bahal between Indra Chowk and Asan. It is a pagoda of considerable artistic beauty. Also called as Janmadyo or Machchhendra the deity
Akash Bhairav Temple : A three storey temple in the main market avenue, called Indra Chowk, the image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra - the God of Rain.
Hanumandhoka (Durbar Square) : It is the historic seat of royalty. The durbar square, with its old temples and places, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Interesting things to see here are; Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A. D. Kal Bhairav, the God of destruction, Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chok, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Big Drum and, the Jagannath Temple. On the right-hand corner, larger wooden latticescreen hides an enormous gilded face of Sweta Bhairav. The screen is removed only during the Indra Jatra festival.
There are also Numismatic Museum and Tribhuvan Museum inside the Hanuman Dhoka Palace building. Photography is prohibited inside the museums. Both the museums remain . closed on Tuesdays and government holidays.
Temple of Kumari (Kumari Ghar) : The temple or the residence of Living goddess, Kumari, is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The building has profusely carved wooden blaconies and window screens. The Kumari- the living Goddess, acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window. Photography is prohibited.
Jaishi Dewal : Five minutes from Kasthmandap the Shiva Temple of Jaishi Dewal is famous for its erotic carvings. It is still one of the main routes of the chariot festival of Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra and other festivals.
Martyr's Memorial (Sahid) Gate : It is located between Bhimsen Stambha and Bhadrakali temple. The memorial arch contains the statue of the late King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah and the busts of four martyrs.
Singha Durbar : A grand imposing palace built on the neo-classical style. Singha Durbar was the private residence of Rana Prime Ministersnow it’s a parliament house of Nepal.
Budhanilkantha : About eight kilometers north of Kathmandu, at the base of Sivapuri hill is a remarkable colossal statue of Lord Vishnu, reclining of the bed of snakes. This is one of the masterpieces of stone sculptures of Lichchhavi period. This fifth century statue is in the middle of a small pond and seems to float in water.
Balaju Water Garden : Situated about five kilometers North-west of Kathmandu, Balaju Garden features fountains with 22 crocodile headed water spout dating from the mid eighteenth century. There is also a swimming pool inside the park.
Swayambhunath : This is one of the world's most glorious Buddhist Chaityas. It is said to be 2000 years old. Painted on the four-sides of the spire bases are the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. It is three kilometres west of Kathmandu city and is situated on a hillock about 77m.
National Museum: Two and half kilometers west of Kathmandu, the National Museum has a splendid collection of weapons, artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. Its archaeological and historical displays are worth seeing. The museum is open everyday except Tuesday and government holidays.
Natural History Museum: Situated three kilometers west of Kathmandu city behind the famous Swayambhunath hillock this museum has a unique collection of butterflies, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, plants and a variety of fossils collected within the country. Photography inside the museum is prohibited
Pashupatinath Temple: Situated five kilometers east of Kathmandu, the temple of Lord Shiva- Pashupatinath with two tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb architecture. Visitors can clearly seen the temple and the activities performed in the temple premises from the eastern bank of the Bagmati river.
Guheswari Temple: Near Pashupatinath is located another historic and holy temple of Guheswari. Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple courtyard.
Bouddhnath : The Stupa of Bouddhnath lies eight kilometers east of Kathmandu. This colossal and ancient Stupa is one of the biggest in the world.
Gokarna: This lovely Royal Game Sanctuary, also known as Gokarna Safari Park, lies about ten kilometers north-east of Kathmandu. Many wild animals such as spotted deer can be viewed in the sanctuary from an elephant back. On the northern side of Gokarna, is a pagoda of Gokarneshwor Mahadev.
Sundarijal : It is famous for its scenic beauty.There are magnificent waterfalls, cataracts and rock formations. It is an ideal place for picnic requiring a short walk after the motorable road.
Kirtipur : It is a small town, eight kilometers south-west of Kathmandu on the top of a hill. Tribhuvan University is located at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to offer like old shrines and temples, old houses, the people typically dressed in old traditional costumes, people working on ancient loom etc.
Dakshinkali : The temple of Dakshinkali is situated about two kilometers south of Shekha Narayan. Dakshinkali is regarded as one of most important Hindu goddesses. Pilgrims visit this temple to offer their prayer and animal sacrifices to the goddess. Besides, this place has been developed as a popular picnic spot.
This ancient city of Patan also Known as Lalitpur or the city of fine arts is about five kilometers southeast of Kathmandu. The city is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments. The major tourist attractions of Patan are:
Durbar Square : Patan Durbar square, situated in the heart of the city consitutes the focus of visitor's attraction. The square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines, noted for their exquisite carvings. The Patan Durbar square consists of three main chowks or courtyards, the central Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. The Sundari Chowk holds in its center a masterpiece of stone architecture, the Royal bath called Tushahity.
Krishna Mandir : Built in the seventeenth century, the temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in the palace complex of Patan. It is supposed to be the first specimen of Shikhara style architecture in Nepal. It is the only temple in Nepal having 21 spires and is completely made of stone.
Hiranya Verna Mahavihar : Located inside kwabadehal, this three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwor (Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century by king Bhaskar Verma. Inside the upper storey of the pagoda, are the golden image of Lord Buddha
Temple of Machhendranath and Minnath : The pagoda of Red Machhendranath built in 1408 A.D. is situated in Tabahal. For six months the deity is taken to its other shrine in Bungmati. The temple of Minnath is situated in Tangal on the way to Tabahal.
The Zoo: Situated at Jawalakhel, the zoo has many animals, birds and reptiles in its collections mostly representing the Himalayan fauna. There is a beautiful pond built in 17th A. D.
Godavari: Situated at the foothills of Phulchowki, Royal Botanical Garden has a splendid natural beauty. The road from Patan city runs to Godavari to The soutlh-east, passing through the small, old towns of Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Badegaun. It is the only in Nepal, is open daily including Saturdays and government holidays.
Situated at an altitudue of 1,401 m. Bhaktapur covers an area of 4 square miles. Shaped like a conch-shell. Bhaktapur means the city of devotees. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. The city lies about 14 kilometres East of Kathmandu and can be reached by public transport and by trolley buses. The major sightseeing places in Bhaktapur include:
Durbar Square: The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like the Lion Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the Picture Gallery, the Golden Gate, the Palace of 55 windows, the Batsala temple and the Bell of barking dogs, etc. The statue of the King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace. Of the many statues available in Nepal this is considered to be the most magnificent.
The Palace of 55 Windows was built in the seventeenth century by King Bhupatindra Malla. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 windows. This balcony is a masterpiece of wood carving.
The Stone Temple of Batsala Devi: which is also located in the Durbar square is full of intricate carvings. This temple also sets a beautiful example of Shikhara style of architecture in Nepal. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple which is also known as the "bell of barking dogs". This colossal bell, placed in 1737 A.D. was used to sound curfew during that time.
Nyatapola Temple: This five-storey pagoda was built in 1702 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. It stands on a five-terraced platform. On each of the terraces squat a pair of figures; two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singini the tiger and the lion goddesses. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structureand subtle workmanship.
Dattatraya Temple: Built in 1427 A.D. this temple is said to have been built from trunk of a single tree. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows.
Changu Narayan: Situated at the end of a long ridge which runs well into the Valley, it is said to have been built by King Hari Dutta in 323 A.D. and said to be the oldest temple in the Valley.
Nagarkot: Nagarkot is a popular tourist resort of Nepal. It is situated 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,175 m. above the sealevel. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Nepal Himalayas
Nepal is a land of Festivals with some part of the Himalayan country as well or the other celebrating some festival during everyday of the year. Festivals may be linked with the remembrance of the departed soul, to herald the different seasons, to mark the beginning or end of the agricultural cycle, to mark the national events, or just family celebrations. On a festive day the Nepalese take their ritual bath, worship different gods and goddesses, visit temple, observe fasting and undertake feasting.
The most important aspect of Nepali culture is the religious harmony and understanding prevailing among the Hindus and Buddhist and others as well. Some of the major festivals of Nepal are:
- New Year's Day-April 14,(First day of Baisakh)
- Buddha Jayanti (The birth day of lord Buddha) - (24 mayl)
- Machchendranath Rath Jatra (specially in Kathmandu valley) - (May-June)
- Guru Poornima (August)
- Gaijatra (August)
- Krishnashtami - (August-September)
- Gokarna Aunsi or Father's Day - (August-September)
- Indra Jatra - (September)
- Bada Dashain - (September-October)
- Tihar (the second biggest festival of Nepal and it is also called the festival of light)- (October-November)
- Bala Chaturdarshi - (November-December)
- Maha Shivaratri ( the birth night of God shiva) - (March-April)
- Ghode Jatra - (March-April)