KATHMANDU - Base of Mt. Everest
The City of Living Goddess
The image of the city I had 15 years ago was completely different this time. The April 2015 earthquake has left the city in a very bad state. People are still trying to come out of the destruction that happened. Regardless of any such situation, it has got plenty of places to see and have a good trip of at least 4 days in the city.
It is the capital city of Nepal and is surrounded by four major mountains named as Shivapuri, Phulchowki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. The city is also the headquarters for the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation).
The name Kathmandu itself is derived from the word Kashtamandap literally meaning WOOD CARVED SHELTER in Sanskrit. The city is divided into 3 parts Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur which together forms the Kathmandu Valley. All three towns have got Darbar Squares (City Square area) which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The city is a combination of historical sightseeing, artistic buildings, and spiritual places. One side of the city shows you how the ancient kings have been living and ruling the country; why do they worship the Kumari Mata (The Living Goddess) and the other side takes you on a memorable journey of the city surrounded by Himalayan Mountain Peaks.
Travelling in Kathmandu is easier in terms of transportation service as well as tedious because of the traffic problems. The roads are smaller and there are too many vehicles on the road. So keep an eye on your watches the whole time.
Eating in Kathmandu is never a problem since you will get plenty restaurants or even dhabas which can give you tasty food on the go.
Best Places to Visit in Kathmandu
1. Pashupatinath Temple
- It is famous and considered to be one of the most sacred Hindu temples dedicated to Pashupatinath meaning Shiva.
- It is located on the banks of Bagmati river on the northeast side of the Kathmandu Valley. The temple complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1979.
- Your vehicle can bring you till the parking lot and from there you need to walk for 3 to 4 minutes to reach the complex. You will find many small shops selling things related to the deity and worshiping God along the way.
- If you are visiting the temple during evening time; be prepared to face a lot of devotees; since many of them try to attend the Aarti (Hindu Religious Ritual of Worship) that happens at 6:30 PM.
2. Boudhnath Stupa
- I must say; whatever state of mind you are in, once you arrive at this place you are somehow at peace. The World's largest Stupa leaves you awestruck with its architectural beauty and huge structure.
- Stupa stands at the height of 118 ft with a complex surrounded by various shops selling multiple things.
- You need to buy the ticket costing NPR 100 to enter the complex and visit Stupa. It is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Nepalese also call this Stupa as "Chorten Chenpo" meaning the "Great Tower" or "Great Stupa". It is the Tibetan Culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism.
- The 9 levels of the Stupa symbolizes the mythical Mt. Meru which is considered to be the center of the cosmos. 13 levels to the pinnacle represent the path to enlightenment. The structure is surrounded by 16 sided wall with prayer wheels mentioning the mantra of "Om Mani Padme Hum". The base of the Stupa consisting three platforms represents Earth.
-The symbol like a question mark in between the eyes is actually a Nepali character 1 symbolizing unity and one way to enlightenment. The 13 steps on the top of the square tower are considered to be the steps to enlightenment. You get to see a lot of flags bearing strings being tied from the top to base which consists of various Buddha mantras.
- Budhanilkantha (also called as Sleeping Vishnu) literally means the Old Blue Throat. It is a statue of Hindu God Vishnu.
- The place is at 10 km distance from the center of Kathmandu and located at the base of Shivpuri Hill.
- The statues are carved out of the single stone of black basalt and are 5 meters in length and lie in reclining position inside a tank of water which is 13 meters in length. The statue is the deity reclining on the naga Shesha (Shesha is called as the serpent deities known as Nagas).
4. Durbar Squares
- Kathmandu Valley includes the towns of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Madhyapur Thimi and Bhaktapur. Every town had their own royal families and Durbar Squares are equal to places which are in front or near to the Royal Palaces. These squares include temples, fountains, idols, statues and open courts.
- The most beautiful Durbar Square is Kathmandu Durbar Square. Unfortunately, it was badly hampered in the April 2015 earthquake and is not really in a good shape to visit. Ticket cost for SAARC Nationals is NPR 250 and for foreigners is NPR 1000. If you visit this square; you have seen the best of all three squares.
- Patan Durbar Square is still under renovation, so when you visit the square you get to see a lot of re-construction sites around refurbishing the structure. Both Patan and Kathmandu Durbar Square houses the temple of Kumari Mata (The living Goddess.) Ticket cost for SAARC Nationals is NPR 500 and for foreigners is NPR 150.
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square is another beautiful square and is quite far from the city center of Kathmandu. This square houses some of the most beautiful structures and temples including Nyatapola Temple. If you are visiting this square be sure to eat the sweet curd served in the area which is the specialty of the place. Ticket cost for SAARC Nationals is NPR 500 and for foreigners is NPR 1500.
- Whichever square you visit; be ready to walk a lot. Since these are huge squares and take quite a long time to go around the whole place.
5. Mountain Flight
- Whenever you plan your visit to Kathmandu; be sure to leave one morning planned for this mesmerizing, lifetime experience of mountain flight. The charges for the ticket price can vary from airline to airline and time to time.
- The range would be from INR 6,000 to INR 9,000 including your transfers from the hotel. You need to book the ticket in advance to reserve your seats. Because these flights do get full. It's a same small flight which flies from Pokhara to Kathmandu and vice versa. Only window seat tickets are sold to assure the best view to every traveler.
- The flight takes off and once you reach at the height of 21,000 ft in the air; you get an awesome view of the Himalayan mountain ranges and the highlighted part of the flight i.e. Mt. Everest; the highest peak in the world. You get to see a lot of other peaks too; air hostess would inform you time to time which peak we are crossing at the moment.
- They also give you a chance to see the same from the cockpit window; where pilots themselves explain about the mountain peaks in front of us. The flight is 45 minutes in which we get to enjoy the views of the mountains for 30 minutes.
7. Trekking in Kathmandu
- If you are a hardcore trekker and looking for some challenging peaks to take over this is your place.
- Kathmandu and surrounding areas offer some of the most beautiful and serene mountain peaks from the difficulty level of beginner to extreme.
- One of the most famous treks is at the Langtang National Park, Tsume Valley Trek, Arun Valley Trek, Chola Pass. Be careful of making your all arrangements properly since the weather can really take a toll at times.
- Put on your suit and try your luck at some of the well-known casinos of the town.
- Casino Royal is considered to be the most sophisticated of all.
- However, apart from that you also have other casinos named as Casino Rad, The Millionaire's Club and Casino, Casino Mahjong.
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