Nepal for a small country tucked in between India and Tibet / China, captures the world’s highest peaks. As well as most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, within the close backdrop of the massive Himalayan Mountain range. For most travelers around the world, Nepal is known as the land of Mt. Everest and the high Himalayan Mountains. Nepal has more to offer for interested visitors, as the country is steeped in old historical monuments and religious sites. Where one can witness both ancient religions Hindu and Buddhism temples and monasteries.
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Nepal for a small country tucked in between India and Tibet / China, captures the world’s highest peaks. As well as most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, within the close backdrop of the massive Himalayan Mountain range.
For most travelers around the world, Nepal is known as the land of Mt. Everest and the high Himalayan Mountains. Nepal has more to offer for interested visitors, as the country is steeped in old historical monuments and religious sites. Where one can witness both ancient religions Hindu and Buddhism temples and monasteries.
Located close together with a blend of peaceful harmony, where both religions make a melting pot. Thus creating varied masterpieces of arts, and majestic buildings with intricate works of craftsmanship.
Where ever you travel around Neal, the heritage culture and customs follow you. From the main cities, and towns as far as rural villages, each major places have temples, shrines, and monasteries.
The world heritage sites start from the capital Kathmandu, and its adjoining cities of Patan / Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.The World Heritage Sites extend to the low land of the Terai belt the Chitwan National Park and further west to Lumbini. The birthplace of Lord Buddha, the Light of Asia.
The heritage site continues high towards the Everest region, located within Sagarmatha National Park. Added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1979 enriched with exotic flora/fauna and the world's highest peaks.
01: PASHUPATINATH TEMPLE:
Pashupatinath temple, revered as the holiest of all holy sites by Hindus all around the world, is located amidst Kathmandu city. A short drive from your hotel, heading east from the city close on route to Nepal international airport.
Pashupatinath Temple is one of the holy pilgrimages sites for Hindu devotees. As per the Hindu myth and religion, the sacred site is considered the protector of the universe. The patron deity of Nepalese people, where worship and prayer are held every morning and evening time. A beautiful golden pagoda roofed temple with silver doors on four cardinal square sides.
The main idol is a phallus of Lord Shiva in the middle of the temple, guarded by a golden-colored Nandi Bull. The vehicle of Shiva, and a companion, where non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the main temple courtyard.
But visitors can observe the temple and religious activities from the east of Bagmati River close to a serene forest. Once a year in February as per the Hindu Lunar calendar a great religious festival is held. Which is called ‘Shiva Ratri’ the day/night of Lord Shiva's birth anniversary, thousands of pilgrims, and worshippers. All Hindu Nepalese from across the country, as well as from India pay homage on this special day.
The temple's exact dates are unknown but believed it was constructed in the 1692 Century.
02: BOUDDHANATH STUPA:
Bouddhanath Stupa with a large dome, known to be the largest in all Asia, as well around the world. Located east of Kathmandu city, the area of Bouddhanath Stupa is also called ‘Little Tibet’. Due to the mass number of local inhabitants of Tibetan origin and similar culture, that dwells around the Bouddhanath areas.
The massive mandala shape makes Bouddhanath Stupa one of the masterpieces and the greatest work of craftsmanship. The base of the stupa structure consists of three large platforms, the size gets smaller heading upwards.
The three great platforms symbolize the sky, and the circular vase supporting the semi-sphere signifies water. The eyes of Lord Buddha painted in four cardinal directions, symbolize all-seeing eyes of wisdom. Which makes the whole environment as being blessed, the lower base encircled with prayer wheels.
The Bouddhanath Stupa dates back to 600 AD and remains a sacred site for all Buddhism. One can witness pilgrims from all walks of life that circuits around the Stupa, known as the holy Kora. The stupa is described as the five most promising elements representing Buddha that are earth, air, water, fire, and space. Which is comprised of the architecture of the Bouddhanath Stupa.
03: SWAYAMBHUNATH STUPA:
Swayambhunath Stupa, one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in the country, believed history of 2,600 years old. The famous highlight and landmark of Kathmandu and Nepal stand on a hillock, covered in green forest.
The favorite dwelling place for the rhesus monkey species, hence it is also known famously as Monkey Temple. The stupa on a high hill dominates Kathmandu city and the valley. The white painted stupa with four all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha, overlooking the city.
The word Swayambhunath has various meanings the Tibetans know it as the site of ‘Sublime Trees’. Where various species of plants are found around the forest located close to the Stupa. The other name is Shing-Kun in the local Nepali language, but Swayambhunath means a monument that was ‘self-sprung’.
Visitors can easily reach Swayambhunath Stupa a short drive west of Kathmandu city or walk upstairs on 365 steps. The easiest way is to drive up to the backside of the stupa and walk for 10 minutes. Swayambhunath Stupa beside its main big Stupa has a monastery nearby.
Where visitors can observe monks and priests in prayer or with religious activities, the premises with a small museum. From Swayambhunath enjoy a grand vista of Kathmandu city and the valley. On a clear fine day, views of Himalayan snow peaks are seen towards the north.
04: CHANGU NARAYAN:
Changu Narayan is regarded as the oldest Hindu temple in Nepal, with the magnificent architecture of great craftsmanship. Considered a milestone work of beauty and arts, besides its pure religious significance dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
One of the three main gods in the Hindu religion after Brahma and Shiva, the temple stands on a high hill. Above the Kathmandu valley eastern rim, overlooking the three main cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur / Patan.
A drive of less than an hour from Kathmandu approx. 18 k.m and 4 k.m. from the city of Bhaktapur city. Perched on a high hill at 1,543 m amidst a lovely pine forest, within a sleepy old Newar village of Changu. The area also known as Dolagiri stands the Changu Narayan temple with a golden pagoda-style roof.
The temple is about 3,000 years old, built in the 4th century by the rulers of the Lichavi dynasty. By King Mandev which is a strong religious site of historical and religious impact on the country. An interesting place to visit is the serene premises of Changu Narayan temple and its nice surroundings.
05: THE KATHMANDU DURBAR SQUARE:
The Kathmandu Durbar Square, located in the major hub of Kathmandu city an earlier palace of the Malla regime. The old palace and Durbar square the royal courtyard existed active till the late Shah Dynasty period.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square teemed with life and local activities can reach within a walking distance. An interesting place amidst the center of the city, and a great way to observe the cultures and customs of the Nepalese.
Kathmandu Durbar Square stands in front of an old royal palace the former Kathmandu Kingdom of Nepal. One of three major Durbar Squares of Nepal within the Kathmandu Valley, all are listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Some ancient buildings and old monuments, around the Square, have been damaged by the big earthquake of 2015. The Durbar Square translates as a “palace” or “a court held by kings and the royal family”.
Which is an important site for Hindu rituals, holy ceremonies, and former royal events like coronations. The Kathmandu Durbar Square and palace was founded and started by King Sankhara Dev during the Malla kingdom period. Dates back from 1069 to 1083 AD, as the first king of the independent Kathmandu City. Later on through the centuries, other Malla kings added more monuments around Durbar Square and in the palace areas.
A great wonderful place to observe the old heritage culture and customs of the Nepali during the medieval era of time.
06: PATAN DURBAR SQUARE:
At one time during the ancient days, Nepal stood as a separate independent kingdom, for instance, the Kathmandu valley. Where there were three different kingdoms, namely Kathmandu, Patan / Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur which had their own Durbar Square.
Patan Durbar Square is located amidst the busy colorful market called Mangal Bazaar in the heart of Patan or Lalitpur district. Which is south of Kathmandu city, bounded by Bagmati River, a mere distance of less than half hour drive.
The district of Patan also known as Lalitpur is one of the main cities within Kathmandu valley. The word Lalitpur means city of fine arts and crafts, which you can witness on a tour of Patan Durbar Square.
The Patan Durbar Square was added to World Heritage Sites in 1979, a place of charm and beauty. The royal courtyard or Durbar Square was established in the 6th century by King Siddhi Narsinga Malla. The square is steeped with ancient places, temples, and shrines a masterpiece for exquisite carvings, and fine artworks.
The former royal palace complex is the center of Patan's religious and social life. Houses a museum treasures an array of bronze statues and religious objects, and beautiful handicrafts and paintings.
Places of great interest to visit are as follows:
Patan Durbar Square houses ancient Newari architecture with three main courtyards in the palace: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk, and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk is the oldest one at the center of Patan Durbar Square.
Several multi-sized and multi-styled temple houses the western part of the complex. Main among these are Krishna Temple, Bhimsen Temple, and the Golden Temple of Hiranya.
The temple dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna was built in the 17th century. Considered the first Shikara architecture ever built, the temple is one of the gems of Durbar Square.
Just at the rim of Durbar square stands the five-storied pagoda temple of Lord Siva built by King Jayasthiti Malla, inside the temple premises a natural spring, its source the belief is from the famous glacial lake of Gosainkunda around Langtang Himal of Rasuwa district.
The golden work on the temple was added later in 1422 A.D. On the festival of Janai Purnima (month of August), ritual bathing and fair take place.
Jagat Narayan Temple:
Jagat Narayan temple, a tall Shikhara-style temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, red bricks are used for the construction. The temple holds a fine metal statue of Garuda, Ganesh, and Hanuman, all related to the Hindu religion and mythology.
07: BHAKTAPUR DURBAR SQUARE:
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is located in the Bhaktapur district as well the oldest city and former kingdom around Kathmandu valley. Situated east of Kathmandu and Patan areas, a drive of less than an hour at approx. 13 k.m. distance.
Once you enter Bhaktapur city and its Durbar Square, takes you back to the medieval era period of times.
Places of interest to visit around Bhaktapur Square are as follows:
Bhaktapur Durbar Square:
Listed as the best world heritage site of Nepal, which reflects age-old rich culture, art, and masterpiece architecture. The famous golden gate leads to the main courtyard of an old Palace with 55 windows. The golden gate is regarded as the world's most beautiful and richly carved specimen of its kind.
Bhaktapur Nytapola Temple:
The main highlight of Bhaktapur as well as the landmark of the city is the tall Nytapola Temple. In the local Newar language, means 5 storied temple towers high at 30 meters, the tallest temples within Kathmandu valley.
Nytapola was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1708 AD. Each of its five terraces with a pair of figures, starting from the bottom are the wrestlers.
An elephant, lion, griffins, and goddesses are on top of the temple. Great views of the square from the top of the Nytapola temple.
The Bhaktapur National Art Gallery:
Located within Bhaktapur Durbar Square treasures rare paintings and manuscripts with painted covers and illustrations in the museum. The gallery contains brass, bronze, stone, and wooden images of the medieval art tradition of Nepal.
Bhairavnath Temple of Bhaktapur:
The Bhairavnath Temple was built as a one-story pagoda during the King Jagat Jyoti Malla period. Then it was added into a three-storied roofed temple in 1718 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. The temple stands for its artistic grandeur, dedicated to Lord Bhairab - the god of Terror and a guardian angel also.
Another interesting monument is Dattarya Temple, built in 1427 AD, it is believed the temple was built from a single tree. Visit the monastery enriched with exquisitely carved peacock windows located close by from the temple area.
Pottery square and market:
While visiting Bhaktapur Durbar Square, not to be missed are the old traditional ways of making potteries. At Bhaktapur there are two main pottery areas, the first pottery square is at Suryamadhi east of Dattarya temple square. One of the earliest and oldest pottery squares, the next pottery place is south of Nytapola Square. Situated at Talako’s Potter’s Square, where visit leads around interesting markets side streets.
Observe the pottery in full blaze, the wide open brick courtyard, a mix of grey and brownish red clay pots. Each pot is carefully examined by hand before being turned towards the sun and then dipped into colored water.
Interesting to watch the craftsman on wheels shaping the clay in a finely tuned system of human pottery rotation. The skill and crafts from the past centuries of old-age heritage and tradition.
08: LUMBINI THE BIRTHPLACE OF LORD BUDDHA:
Lumbini the official birthplace of Lord Buddha, renowned as ‘The Light of Asia’ located in far southwest Nepal. History shows that Lumbini the traditional birthplace of Gautama Buddha was born in the 6th Century B.C. Reaching Lumbini by air or overland, a short flight of 50 minutes, and by drive takes more than 7 hours. Landing at Bhairawa airport, a short drive of less than an hour takes you to Lumbini.
Which is close to the premises where Buddha was born, according to the Buddhist traditional story. Buddha’s mother Maya Devi gave birth to a child (Buddha) on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha. In May 642 BC.
Various sites to visit of great historical and religious interest, Lumbini is the hub for Buddhism followers all around the world.
Places to visit around Lumbini holy premises:
Asoka Pillar, in 249 BC, the Buddhist convert Emperor Asoka visited Lumbini and constructed four stupas and a stone pillar. Asoka’s Pillar bears an inscription that translates as: "King Piyadasi (Asoka), beloved of devas, in the 20 years of the coronation, himself made a royal visit, Buddha Sakyamuni having been born here, a stone railing was built and a stone pillar erected to the Bhagavan "blessed one" having been born here. The Lumbini village was taxed reduced and entitled to the eight parts (only)".
The site was rediscovered in 1895 when a German archaeologist came upon Asoka’s Pillar, identified by its inscription. Records made by the Chinese pilgrim
Fa Xian were also used in the process of identifying this religiously acclaimed site. Lumbini was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Maya Devi Temple:
At present, a temple is dedicated to Maya Devi, Buddha’s mother. Parts of the temple are over 2,000 years old. It is believed that the temple was located where the Buddha was born. There used to be a pipal tree (Ficus Religiosa) here that some people believed to be the tree that Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha under the tree.
There is a pond next to the temple and just south of the Asoka pillar, where Maya Devi is said to have bathed in, before (some say after) the delivery of the Buddha.
There are some ruined foundations of stupas and buildings dating from the 2nd century to the 9th Century.
There are heavily restored brick foundations of stupas and buildings, which date from the second century BC to the ninth century AD. There are two modern monasteries. The Tibetan Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihar was established by Chogye Trichen Rinpoche and built by the king of Mustang. It has some aged paintings and gilded Buddhas and bodhisattvas.
The Theravada Lumbini Buddha Vihar was built by the Nepal government. It has some Tibetan-style paintings, Newar woodwork, and Buddhist images.
Besides, there are many monasteries, built by different Buddhist and non-Buddhist countries. As well visit the Shanti Dip, the light of Peace, which stands amidst the beautiful surroundings.
09: THE CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK:
The Chitwan National Park, the oldest and most popular park for wild-life safari, is located in Nepal Mid-South. Around the low-land sub-tropical of Terai belt, where deep dense green jungles are located. A perfect habitat for wild mammals and exotic bird life as well for various species of flora and fauna.
The Chitwan National Park with an area of 932 sq. km. visitors can reach the park by air or drive. A flight of 25 minutes to Bharatpur airport, an hour drive to the park premises, where all good hotels are located.
The overland journey takes about 5-6 hours reaching near the park boundary and the hotel or resorts.
The Chitwan National Park, regarded as Asia’s best park was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984. There are more than 43 species of mammals. The Park is famous for the endangered and elusive "Royal Bengal Tiger". As well home to the one-horned Indian Rhinoceros, freshwater Gharial crocodile along with many other common species such as gaur (Asian bison) wild elephants, four-horned antelopes, striped hyenas, pangolins, Gangetic dolphins, monitor lizards, and pythons.
Other animals found in the park include sambars, chitals (spotted deer) barking deer, sloth bears, palm civets, langurs, and rhesus monkeys. The park is also famous for over 450 different species of birds.
Among the endangered birds are the Bengal Florican, the Giant Hornbill, the Lesser Florican, the Black Stork, and White Stork.
Program and activities begin early before breakfast, walk to the elephant platform for the ride on elephant backs leading you into the dense jungle to witness wildlife in its natural habitat.
Other activities include a visit to elephant stables and elephant bathing and briefing. After lunch drives into the jungles as well as ride on a dug-out canoe floating on Rapti River where you can see freshwater Gangetic Gharial and Mugger crocodiles, if lucky including freshwater dolphins, and otters.
Morning Bird Watch Tour, Machan (Watch Tower) Tour, Jungle walks, nature walks, elephant and jeep safari with elephant briefing and bathing elephants include more with entertainment of local Tharu cultural programs.
10: SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK:
Sagarmatha National Park is a mountainous park situated in Nepal North Mid-East at high Khumbu around the Everest region. The park with an area of 1,148 sq. km extends towards the west near Tashi-Labtsa pass. Stretches towards near Makalu area in the east around Hongu valley, the park with the world highest peaks.
The word Sagarmatha for Mt. Everest in Nepal, the local native Sherpa calls Chomolungma of Tibetan origin. In both languages means ‘Great Mother’ like an ocean.
Sagarmatha National Park can be reached taking a swift short flight 30 minutes from Kathmandu. Landing at Tenzing & Hillary Airport in Lukla, a famous and popular Sherpa town and gateway to Everest base camp.
A day walk of 5 hours reaches the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park near Monjo village on route Namche Bazaar.
The park includes the world's highest peaks, Mt. Sagarmatha (Everest), and many other well-known mountains. Likewise, Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyo, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Thermasarkhu, Kwangde, Khangtiaga and Gyachung Kang.
Sagarmatha National Park was established on July 19, 1976, under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act and was later added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
The Sagarmatha National Park covers forested green hills to remorseless fields of ice and glaciers. Above the tree lines at 4,000 m of the mountainous terrain of arctic cold landscapes, a completely barren country.
The park vegetation includes pine and hemlock forests at lower altitudes, fir, juniper, birch, and rhododendron woods. Further high includes scrub and alpine plant communities, and bare rock and snow.
The bright rhododendrons flowers bloom during spring (April and May) although another flora is most colorful during the monsoon season (June to August). Wildlife often seen are the Himalayan Thar, ghoral, serow, and musk deer. The snow leopard and Himalayan black bear are present but rarely sighted.
Other mammals rarely seen are the weasel, marten, Himalayan mouse hare (pika), and jackal and languor monkey. The park is populated by Sherpa communities interwoven with Buddhism. The main settlements within the park are Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Khunde, Thame, Thyangboche, Pangboche, and Phortse.