Friday, May 11, 2007

Popular Tourist Destinations

Known as the "abode of the Gods", Nepal is indeed a riot of colors that simply dazzles the eyes. From snow-capped mountains to beautiful temples, a varied number of tourist attractions vie for your attention as you unravel the wonders of Nepal. In fact, Nepal can rightly be called a wonderful collage of attractions that add up to one of the most wonderful vacations of your life.

Kathmandu Valley

Besides being the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is also the cultural and business hub of the country.
The city of Kathmandu has always been the most populated sities in the country. Perhaps that is the reason behind the rich cultural heritage of the city. Kathmandu with its unique architectural heritage, palaces, temples and courtyards has inspired many writers, artisits, and poets both foreign and Nepalese.
It boasts a unique symbiosis of Hinduism, Buddhism as well as Tantrism in its culture which is still alive today as it was hundreds of years ago. The relegious influence can be openly seen in the city.
As a wonderful combination of modernity and tradition, Kathmandu adds up as an experience to remember. From swanky shops to beautiful temples, Kathmandu is indeed a treat to the senses.


Kathmandu Durbar Square (Hanuman Dhoka)






This complex of palaces, courtyards, and temples were built in the 12th to 18th centuries. It used to be the seat of the ancient Malla kings of Kathmandu. An intriguing piece here is the 17th century stone inscription set in to the wall of the palace with writing in 15 languages. It is believed that if anybody deciphers this entire inscription, milk would flow from the spout, which lies just below the inscripted stone wall. Some people say that the inscription contains coded directions to a treasure King Pratap Malla has buried beneath Mohan chowk of Durbar Square.Durbar Square is the social, religious and urban focal point of the city. There are three museums inside the palace building.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly uncountable monuments in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. The house of the Living Goddess, the ferocious Kal Bhairab, the red monkey god, and hundreds of erotic carvings are a few examples of the sights at the Square! The buildings here are the greatest achievements of the Malla dynasty, and they resulted from the great rivalry between the three palaces of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. The Valley was divided among the children of Yaksya Malla. They, and later their offsprings, began an artistic warfare trying to outdo each other in splendid constructions. Kings copied everything their neighbours built in an even grander style. A
The entire Palace Complex here is named after a monkey god called Hanuman. One can see a huge stone statue of Hanuman painted all red right next to the main entrance ( the golden gate) of the palace. Hanuman here is regarded as a powerful protector of the entire Durbar Square.
A round temple in the pagoda architectural style, the temple of Goddess Taleju, an image of Shiva and Parbati sitting together,Kal Bhairab (God of Destruction), Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chowk, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Big Drum and the Jagnnath Temple are among the many monuments that one who wanders around the Square will see.

The Square is teeming with colorful life. Vendors sell vegetables, curios, flutes, and other crafts around the Kastamandap rest house. This rest house is said to have been built with the wood of a single tree and is the source from which the Kathmandu Valley got its name. Nearby are great drums which were beaten to announce royal decrees. All woodcarvings, statues, and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine

Kumari Ghar (Temple of Kumari) :Not only does Nepal have many gods, goddess, deities, Bodhisattvas (near Buddhas), avatars and manifestations, which are worshipped and revered as statues, images, paintings and symbols, but it also has a real living goddess. The Kumari Devi is a young girl who lives in the building known as the Kumari Ghar, right beside Kathmandu's Durbar Square.
From time immemorial the practice of worshipping an ordinary pre-pubescent girl as a source of supreme power has been an integral part of both Hinduism and Buddhism, a tradition which continues even to this day virtually in every household. They call this girl Kumari Devi and worship her on all the religious occasions.

Kumari Ghar is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The building has beautifully carved wooden balconies and window screens. The Kumari- the living Goddess acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window.
The predominance of the Kumari cult is more distinctly evident among the Newar community inside the Kathmandu Valley. It was the Vajrayana sect of Mahayana Buddhism that was responsible for establishing the tradition of worshipping a girl from the Sakya community as the royal Living Goddess.
The selection of the Living Goddess is a highly elaborate tantric ritual.The one who is calm and collected throughout the tests is the girl who is entitled to sit on the pedestal for worship as the Living Goddess. Then as a final test similar to that of the Dalai Lama, the Kumari then chooses items of clothing and decoration worn by her predecessor.
During her tenure in the god-house, Guthi Sansthan, the government trust fund bears her entire expenses including that of her caretakers. Under normal circumstances, her days in the god-house come to an end with her first menstruation, but if she turns out to be unlucky, as they say, even a minor scratch on her body that bleeds can make her invalid for worship. She then changes back to the status of normal mortal and the search of a new Kumari begins.
On Indra Jatra, in September, the Living Goddess in all her jeweled splendor travels through the older part of Kathmandu city in a three tiered chariot accompanied by Ganesh and Bhairab each day for three days. It is really a grand gala in which people in their thousands throng in and around the Kathmandu Durbar Square to pay their homage to the Living Goddess. During this festival she also blesses the King in keeping with the tradition in which the first king of the Shah dynasty, who annexed Kathmandu in 1768, received a blessing from the Living Goddess.




Kasthamandap : King Laxmi Narsingha Malla built this temple in the sixteenth century. It is said to be constructed from the wood of single tree. It is located near the temple of Kumari. Indeed the city of Kathmandu derives its name from this temple.
Behind Kasthamandap, there is a small but a very important temple of Ashok Vinayak, also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh.




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 tourist routes of the chariot festivals of Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra and other festivals.

Swayambhu Nath





The most ancient and enigmatic of all the Valley's holy shrines lies 2 km west of Kathmandu city, across the Vishnumati river. The golden spire of Swayambhunath stupa crowns a wooded hillock and offers a commanding view of Kathmandu city. On clear days, one can even view a line of Himalayan peaks. The view is splendid at dusk as city lights flicker one by one, and even better when a full moon hangs in the sky.

The establishment of Swayambhunath Stupa goes back to the legendary beginning of the Kathmandu Valley.The legend says that when the bodhisattva Manjushri drained the waters of the lake to reveal the Kathmandu valley, the lotus of the lake was transformed into the hillock and the blazing light became the Swayambhu stupa.
The main gate of the stupa leads to the steep stairs, which is indeed a traditional ancient pilgrim route. It's really wonderful to climb up the worn stone steps, 365 in all, that leads straight up to the top, where Swayambhunath's painted eyes peer down at all comers. If one doesn't want to climb all these stairs, one can go around the south side of the hill where you will find a small parking area for taxis and tourist bus.
Today, age-old statues and shrines dot the stupa complex. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri of Saraswati - the goddess of learning.

Swayambhu is, perhaps, the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal. The stupa is among the most ancient in this part of the world, and its worshippers are diverse from Newar nuns, Tibetan monks, and Brahmin priests to lay Buddhists and Hindus. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the stupa. Other monasteries here have huge prayer wheels, fine Buddhist paintings, and special butter lamps which may be lit after presenting monetary offerings. Swayambhu is a major landmark of the Valley and looks like a beacon below the Nagarjun hill. It provides an excellent view of the Kathmandu Valley.


Boudha Nath



Boudhanath is among the largest stupas in South Asia, and it has become the focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty-six meters overhead. The stupa is located on the ancient trade route to Tibet, and Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many of them decided to live around Bouddhanath. They established many gompas, and the "Little Tibet" of Nepal was born. This "Little Tibet" is still the best place in the Valley to observe Tibetan lifestyle. Monks walk about in maroon robes. Tibetans walk with prayer wheels in their hands, and the rituals of prostration are presented to the Buddha as worshippers circumambulate the stupa on their hands and knees, bowing down to their lord. Many people believe that Bouddhanath was constructed in the fifth century, but definite proof is lacking. The stupa is said to entomb the remains of a Kasyap sage who is venerable both to Buddhists and Hindus. One legend has it that a woman requested a Valley king for the donation of ground required to build a stupa. She said she needed land covered by one buffalo's skin and her wish was granted by the King. She cut a buffalo skin into thin strips and circled off a fairly large clearing. The king had no choice but to give her the land.

Pashupati Nath





Pashupatinath is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage destination in Nepal. There are linga images of Shiva along with statues, shrines, and temples dedicated to other deities in the complex. A temple dedicated to Shiva existed at this site in AD 879. However, the present temple was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1697. A gold-plated roof, silver doors, and woodcarvings of the finest quality decorate the pagoda construction. Guheswari Temple, restored in AD 1653, represents the female "force". It is dedicated to Satidevi, Shiva's first wife, who gave up her life in the flames of her father's fire ritual.
Above the entrance, situated on the south side, is a depiction of Shiva as Yogeshvara, lord of yogis. Through the gate the rear end of Shiva's bearer, the great bull Nandi, can be glimpsed in the courtyard.
A circuit of the Pashupati area takes visitors past a sixth century statue of the Buddha, an eighth-century statue of Brahma the creator and numerous other temples. Some other places to visit are Rajrajeswari Temple, built in 1407, Kailas with lingas more than 1,400 years old, Gorakhnath temple, and the courtyard of Biswarup. There are rows of Shiva shrines and Hindu pilgrims from all over South Asia offering puja worship to Shiva, tile Lord of Destruction.
The Bagmati River flows close by and the Arya Ghat cremation grounds are here. We strongly advise photographers not to take photos of cremations and of bereaved families. Sadhus, sages who follow the lifestyle of Shiva, may be seen covered in ashes and lion cloths.The main Pashupatinath courtyard may be entered by those of Hindu faith only.

Legend says that Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unkown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him , and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga and overtime was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.


Singha Durbar




Singha Durbar is a grand, imposing palace built in the neo-classical style. It was once the private residence of Rana Prime Ministers and is now the official seat of government. It used to be a huge building with many courtyards; however, most of it was destroyed by fire and only the western half has been rebuilt.

Dharahara



Also known as Bhimsen Stambha (Tower), Dharahara is a 50.5 meter tower built by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832. Situated near the General Post Office, the tower is one of Kathmandu's best known monuments. From the top of the tower, one has a panoramic view of the whole Kathmandu Valley. It is not open for the public.

Narayanhiti Royal Palace



This is the present Royal Palace. At the south there is the famous historic water spout of Narayanhity from which the Palace derives its name. Special permission has to be obtained to go inside the Royal Palace compound.

Indra Chowk





Indrachowk, a square, the courtyard of Indra named after an ancient Hindu deity is at a walking distance from Durbar square. Akash Bhairab temple, a three storey temple lies at Indrachowk the main market avenue of the Kathmandu city. The image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside the temple for a week during Indrajatra, the festival of Indra, the God of Rain.

White Machhendra Nath




The temple is situated at Machhendra Bahal near Indrachowk. This two storeyed temple was built by Yaksha Malla in 1500 AD The chariot festival of white Machendra Nath (the god of mercy) is annually celebrated in Kathmandu Valley. The traditional music is always played in the evening at this temple.

Ason





Ason is one of the busiest squares in Kathmandu and has six roads radiating from it. The three storeyed high pagoda styled Annapurna temple (goddess of food grains) is situated at Ason. Another two storeyed temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh.

Rani Pokhari



Rani Pokhari or the "Queen's Pond" is an artificial pond at the heart of Kathmandu. It was built by King Pratap Malla in 1670 to help his beloved wife overcome the grief of loss of their son. The temple at the center of the pond is of lord Shiva

Thamel

Thamel area has recently emerged as the most popular tourist area of Kathmandu. Thamel is 15 to 20 minutes walk from the center of Kathmandu. It is amazing to see how this area has become the centre for budget travellers in recent years. Thamel is clean narrow street full of mushrooming lodges, hotels for budget travellers, restaurant, bar, tourists oriented shops and bustling with activities.

The National Museum

This museum is located at Chhauni near Swayambhu. It offers breathtaking bronzes and a rich collection of paubha scroll paintings. It also has an extraordinary collection of ancient firearms, leather cannons and relics of the Great Earthquake of 1934.

The Museum of Natural History

This museum is behind the Swayambhu stupa. The museum contains animals, butterflies and plants. Stuffed animals, birds and crocodiles are some of the main attractions of the museum.



Patan

The ancient name of Patan is Lalitpur meaning, city of beauty. It is indeed a city of beauty and grace and is planned on a circular format with Buddhist stupas at each of the four points of the compass. The city is three kilometres south?east of Kathmandu across the river Bagmati. Like Kathmandu, its centre of attraction is its Durbar Square complex, situated right in the middle of the market place. The city is full of Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples with fine bronze gateways, guardian deities and wonderful carvings. Noted for its craftsmen and metal workers, it is also known as the city of artists. The city is believed to have been built during the reign of Vira Dev in A. D. 299.

Patan Durbar Square




This whole square is a cluster of fine pagoda temples and stone statues; it is at the same time the business hub of the city. At every step one comes across a piece of art or an image of a deity, testifying to the consummate skill of Patan's anonymous artists. The ancient palace of the Malla kings and the stone baths associated with various legends and episodes of history are especially interesting. The stone temple of Lord Krishna and the Royal Bath (Tushahity) with its intricate stone and bronze carvings are two other masterpieces in the same vicinity.

Hiranya Mahavihar




This three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwar was built in the twelfth century A. D. by King Bhaskar Varma. Located in the courtyard of Kwabahal, this temple is in a class of its own. A golden image of Lord Buddha and a big prayer wheel can be seen on the pedestal of the upper part of the Car while intricate decorative patterns on its outer walls add charm to the mellow richness of the shrine.

Kumbheshwar




This is a five storey pagoda style temple of Lord Shiva. Inside the courtyard is a natural spring whose source, it is said. is the famous glacial lake of Gosainkunda. This temple was built by King Jayasthiti Malla while the golden finial was added later, in A. D. 1422. He also cleaned the pond near Kumbheshwar and installed various images of Narayan, Ganesh, Sitala, Basuki, Gauri, Kirtimukh and Agamadevata around the pond and in the courtyard. Ritual bathing takes place here every year on the day of Janai Poornima.

Krishna Temple





The temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in Patan'a Palace complex. Though its style is not wholly native, it is one of the most perfect specimens of Nepalese temple craft. The three-storey stone temple continues to elicit high praise from lovers of art and beauty. It was built by King Siddhi Narasingha Malla in the sixteenth century A. U Important scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics have been carved in bas-relief. The minute details of this relief work clearly show the high level that the art of stone carving attained in the sixteenth century.

Maha Boudha

The temple of Mahaboudha is a masterpiece of terra cotta. Like the Krishna Mandir, it reveals an artistic tradition which evolved outside of Nepal yet shows how native Nepalese craftsmen have been able to do justice to an unfamiliar art form. This temple was built by Abhaya Raj, a priest of Patan and is sometimes referred to as the temple of a million Buddhas because every single brick bears a small image of Buddha. There is an astonishing total of nine thousand bricks. It was levelled to the ground in the great earthquake of 1933 but was rebuilt exactly to the original specifications-proving the temple craft is still one of the living arts of Nepal.

Rudra Varna Mahavihar

This is one of Patan's oldest Buddhist monasteries. Adjacent to the monastery there is a temple that contains a fine image of Lord Buddha. The courtyard of this temple is a gallery of exquisite bronze and stone art work.

Ashokan Stupas




Popularly believed, though not proven, to have been built by Ashoka, the Buddhist Emperor of India, these stupas stand at four different corners of Patan, giving the whole city a monastic character. All these Buddhist mounds were built in A.D. 250 at the time when Buddhism was making headway in the Kathmandu Valley.


Machhendra Nath Temple




The temple of Red Machchhendranath is another center of attraction in Patan. The temple lies in the middle of a wide, spacious quadrangle just at the outer rim of the market place. A fine clay image of Red Machchhendranath Avalokiteshwar is housed here for six months every year, after which it is taken round the city of Patan in a colourful chariot festival beginning in April-May and lasting sometimes for several months.

The Tibetan Camp

An attraction of a different kind is the Tibetan Camp on the outskirts of Patan. The small Tibetan population living ' here has set up a number of shrines and stupas as well as several souvenir shops offering authentic.Tibetan handicrafts such as prayer wheels of wood, ivory, silver or bronze, long temple horns made of beaten copper, belt buckles, wooden bowls and jewellery. In this area, one can also see the Tibetans weaving carpets by hand.



Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon as the city is also known, is a museum of medieval art and architecture with many fine examples of sculpture, woodcarving and colossal pagoda temples consecrated to different gods and goddesses. The city is shaped like a conch shell-one of the emblems of the god Vishnu and was founded by King Ananda Deva in A.D. 889. The city is 1,402 metres above sea level. Pottery and weaving are its major traditional industries, The city lies fifteen kilometres to the east of Kathmandu.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square



Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place struts, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows all seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony. The main items of interest in the Durbar Square are:

The Lion Gate : Dating as far back as A.D. 1696, this gate is guarded on either side by two huge statues of lions. Alongside, there are two stone images of Bhairav (the dreadful aspect of Shiva) and Ugrachandi (the consort of Shiva in her fearful manifestation).

The Golden Gate : The Golden Gate is said to be the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen of its kind in the entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure of the goddess Kali and Garuda (the mythical man-bird) and attended by two heavenly nymphs. It is also embellished with mythical creatures of marvellous intricacy, In the words of Percy Brown, an eminent English art critic and historian, the Golden Gate is the most lovely piece of art in the whole Kingdom: it is placed like a jewel, flashing innumerable facets in the handsome setting of its surroundings. The gate was erected by King Ranjit Malla and is the entrance of the main courtyard of the Palace of Fifty five Windows.

The Palace of Fifty five Windows : This magnificent palace was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in A.D. 1427 and was subsequently remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony with Fifty five Windows, considered to be a unique masterpiece of woodcarving.

The Art Gallery : The Art Gallery contains ancient paintings belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of various periods and descriptions. This gallery is open everyday except Tuesday.

The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla : This statue showing King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is set on a column facing the palace. Of the square's many statues, this is considered to be the most magnificent.

Siddha Pokhari
This is a big rectangular water pond located near the main city gate. It was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in the early fifteenth century and is associated with a number of myths, From this spot a wide range of snowy peaks is visible on clear days.

Batsala Temple
The stone temple of Batsala Devi has many intricate carvings. It is most famous for its bronze bell, known to local residents as 'the bell of barking dogs' as when it is rung, all dogs in the vicinity begin barking and howling ! The colossal bell was hung by King Ranjit Malla in A. D. 1737 and was used to sound the daily curfew. It is nowadays rung every morning when the goddess Taleju is worshipped.

Pashupati Temple

This temple is a replica of the famous temple on the Bagmati river in Kathmandu and is widely noted for the erotic carvings in its struts. It was built by King Yakshya Malla.

Nyatapola Temple

This five-storey pagoda was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in A. D. 1702. It stands on five terraces on each of which squat a pair of figures: two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singhini the tiger and the lion goddesses. Each pair of figures is considered ten times stronger than the ones immediately below, while the lowest pair, the two strong men Jaya Malla and Phatta Malla, were reputedly ten times stronger than any other men. This is one of the tallest pagoda temples in Kathmandu Valley and is famous for its massive structure and subtle workmanship.

Bhairav Nath Temple

This is another pagoda style temple dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the dreadful aspect of Shiva. It stands a short distance away from the temple of Nyatapola and was originally constructed by King Jagat Jyoti Malla on a modest scale. It was later remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla, a zealous lover of the arts, into what is now a three storey temple.

Around Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur:

Thimi

Thimi lies about 10km. east of Kathmandu near Bhaktapur. It is well known for pottery, making of masks and as a vegetable growing area for Kathmandu.This place is also known as kitchen garden of Kathmanduites. The main deity in town is the Goddess Balkumari. It attracts tourists by its enchanting culture of the farmer community.

Changu Narayan

Narayan, or Vishnu, is the preserver of creation to Hindus. His temple near Changu village is often described as the most ancient temple in the Kathmandu Valley. A fifth century stone inscription, the oldest to be discovered in Nepal, is located in the temple compound and it tells of the victorious King Mandev. The temple now covers sixteen hundred years of Nepalese art history. The temple, built around the third century, is decorated by some of the best samples of stone, wood, and metal craft in the Valley. In the words of one tourist guide, "When you look upon Changu Narayan, you observe the complete cultural development of the Valley." On the struts of the two tiered Changu Narayan Temple, are the ten incarnations in which Narayan destroyed evil doers. A sixth-century stone statue shows the cosmic form of Vishnu, while another statue recalls his dwarf incarnation when he crushed the evil king Bali. Vishnu as Narsingha disemboweling a demon is particularly stunning. The western bronze doors sparkle in the evening sunlight, dragons decorate the bells, and handsome devas stare from the walls. Garuda, half man and half bird, is the steed of Vishnu, and his life sized statue kneels before the temple. The favourite of many tourists is the statue of Vishnu sitting astride his steed.

Sankhu

Sankhu, located twelve kilometers east of Kathmandu, is a good example of a small Newar town , with many fine old buildings and temples. Beyond the village, up a long flight of stone steps, is Vajra Jogini, a historic temple with beautiful views of the Valley.

Nagarkot

Nagarkot, located 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu, is one of the most scenic spots in Bhaktapur district and is renowned for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalaya when the weather is clear. Visitors often travel to Nagarkot from Kathmandu to spend the night so that they can be there for the breathtaking sunrise. Nagarkot has acquired famous as one of the best spots to view Mount Everest as well as other snow-topped peaks of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal. It also offers an excellent view of the Indrawati river valley to the east. With an elevation of 2195 meters, Nagarkot also offers a panoramic view of the Valley and is described by visitors as a place whose beauty endures year round. Many visitors prefer to visit Nagarkot in the spring when surrounding valleys break out in a rich kaleidoscope of different coloured flowers. The flowers are beautiful against the serene backdrop of the snow covered mountains. Ever popular among the tourists are the short treks and picnics which Nagarkot offers. Treks from Nagarkot are unique and delightful. For anyone who wants to have an adventure without exerting much efforts, a hike to Nagarkot's surrounding areas would be a good option. One can traverse short distances on trekking trails and come close to nature's wonders such as the outer of verdant forests, flower covered meadows and unusual rock formations.

Dhulikhel

Dhulikhel is a scenic and ancient town situated 30 kilometers east of Kathmandu on the Arniko Rajmarg (Kathmandu Kodari Highway). From here one has a panoramic view of the Himalayan range. From the main town, a short visit to Namobuddha, with the stupa and Buddhist Monastery, is highly recommended. Panauti, a village noted for its numerous temples with magnificent woodcarvings, is a short distance from Dhulikhel.

Namo Buddha

It is situated on a hill above Panauti. It requires an easy drive or good walk to get there. There is an amazing story concerned with the Buddha which is commemorated by an ancient stone slab and a Stupa with the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. According to the legend, one of the earlier Buddha offered his own flesh to a hungry tiger unable to feed her hungry cubs. It is also 3 hrs. trekking from Dhulikhel through a number of small villages.

Surya Binayak

About 2 miles south of Bhaktapur is an important shrine of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of good fortune. The shrine has been positioned in such a way as to catch the first rays of the morning sun. Excellent views of Bhaktapur with snow peaks in the background can be seen from here. Being located in a thick forest, it is also a good picnic spot.

Nagarjun

Nagarjun is named after a famous sage. There is a stupa at the top and the forest is well known for its animal life. Controlled by the army, the animal life is protected here and the forest is also known as the Queen's Forest. Leopard, deer, birds, squirrel, and other animal species may be seen and the hill tracks are perfect for mountain biking as well.

Kakani

Kakani is another good location for viewing the mountain scenery. Only two hours north-west of Kathmandu, one can see the mountain landscape of central Nepal, a vast collection of majestic peaks stretching from Ganesh Himal to the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. There is an unusually perfect blending of the imposing mountain scenery with the more sylvan environment of the lower valleys. Rhododendrons growing wild on the mountain slopes begin to bloom in late winter and stay in bloom for several months, giving the village even more charm.

Lele

The charming lele valley lies 19 kilometers southeast of Kathmandu. The road leading to this area is at the Saat Dobato intersection along the Ring Road beyond Lagankhel. Getting there by car may be quite uncomfortable due to the many potholes along the way, but that is offset by the never-ending stretch of picturesque scenery. Along the road are some typical old Newari villages: Sunakothi, Thecho, ]nd Chapagaon. Close to the last, in a very scenic setting, is the temple of Vajra Varahi. Built in 1665, the Vajra Varahi is the most important Tantric temple of the valley. In the shrine of Tika Bhairab dedicated to Shiva in his terrible form is a somewhat abstract but attractive mural on a brick wall 3 by 6 meters.

Daman

For a view of the breathtaking grandeur of the world's highest peaks from the far west of Dhaulagiri to the east of Mt. Everest, there is no better place than Daman. It lies eighty kilometers south-west of Kathmandu on the mountain highway known as Tribhuvan Rajpath as has a view tower fitted with a long range telescope.

Kirtipur

It is a small town, situated on a ridge 6-km southwest of Kathmandu. The ancient township is a natural fortress and has a proud and courageous history. The Chilamchu stupa and the temple of Bagh Bhairav are major sights here. The city offers quaint streets lined with artistic houses and temple squares. The people are known for their skill in building and weaving.

Chobhar

Chobhar is famous for its gorge said to have been cut by the god Manjushri to drain the water from the Kathmandu Valley which was at that time a lake. On a hilltop, there is a small pagoda dedicated to Adinath. From this point one has a panoramic view of snow-clad mountain peaks. Chobhar is located eight kilometers south-west of Kathmandu.

Pharping & Daskhinkali

Pharping has a shrine of Shesh Narayan which is richly endowed with art . The picturesque shrine stands beneath a rock cliff beside many fish ponds. The famous temple of Dakshinkali (one of the most important Hindu Goddesses) is situated about two kilometers from Pharping. Every Tuesday and Saturday, pilgrims congregate at the temple to sacrifice animals and worship the goddess Kali.

Palanchwok Bhagwati

Some 7 kilometers north of the mountain of Panchkhaal, on the top of a hill lies the noted historic temple of Palanchowk Bhagawati.This temple is said to have been constructed during the reign of King Man Dev. The temple houses a three foot long idol of Goddess Bhagawati carved in a black stone.

Vajravarahi

The ancient temple of Vajravarahi is situated in a small woodland park located about ten kilometers south of Patan, near the village of Chapagaon. A visit to Tikabhairav and Lele from here is well worthwhile.

Phulchoki

Phulchocki is a 2791 meter hill and a good hiking spot as it offers a spectacular view of the whole Kathmandu Valley. Rhododendrons of different colours are found here, including pure white and dark red varieties. A jeep able road leads to the top of the hill, where there is a Buddhist stupa.

Godavari

This scenic village is situated ten kilometers south east of Patan. The road from Patan passes through the towns of Harisiddhi, Thaibo and Bhadgaon. One of Nepal's holy places, Godavari is also a good picnic spot set amidst a dense forest, the Royal Botanical Garden and a fish hatchery.

Balaju Water Garden

Situated five kilometers north west of Kathmandu, Balaju Water Garden is an ideal place for rest and relaxation. The park features a long line of twenty two stone water spouts from the mid eighteenth century, each of which is ornately carved with crocodile heads. The garden also includes many other ponds, some of them containing large and small varieties of fish. Adjoining the garden is an Olympic size swimming pool open to the public. Balaju Industrial Estate is located nearby.

Buddhanilkantha

Situated below Shivapuri hill at the northern end of the valley, Buddhanilkantha temple is 9 km from Kathmandu city. The temple consists of a pond in which lies a great stone figure of the Hindu god Vishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent. The huge statue of sleeping Vishnu is carved from the single block of black stone of a type not found in the valley. It is believed that ages before the two hardworking farmers (husband and wife) discovered the statue when they were ploughing their field.

Besides Budhanilkantha temple, there are other two sets of exactly similar, but smaller statues of 'sleeping Vishnu' in the Valley. One set is in the Balaju garden and the other is hidden in the old garden of Hanuman Dhoka Palace of Kathmandu city.
An interesting feature of this shrine is that the reigning King of Nepal may not visit spot according to an old tradition - A prophetic dream of King Pratap Malla generated this belief (that the King of Nepal should never visit Buddhanilkantha temple on threat of death). He then built the similar statue in two places.

Budhanikantha is a place of pilgrimage for all Hindus and is the scene of great activity at such festivals as Haribodhini Ekadasi and Kartik poornima.

Shivapuri

Shivapuri provides most of the water to the Kathmandu Valley and among the hills, it is closest to the high Himalaya. The wildlife sighting here is also excellent as the park has access to wider lands and areas behind the Kathmandu Valley. There is a Buddhist monastery set high on the hill.

Sundarijal

It is a 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.


Pokhara

Pokhara is a remarkable place of natural beauty. Situated at an altitude of 827m from the sea level and 200km west of Kathmandu valley, the city is known as a center of adventure. The enchanting city with a population of around 95,000 has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panaromic views of Himalayan
peaks. The serenity of lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising behind them create an ambience of peace and magic. So today the city has not only become the starting point for most popular trekking and rafting destinations but also a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Pokhara is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.
Pokhara records the highest rainfall in the country.

Phewa Tal (Lake)

Phewa lake, the second largest lake in the kingdom, roughly measuring 1.5 km by 4 km, is the center of all attractions in Pokhara. The enchanting lake is an idyllic playground.
The lake is neither deep (roughly 47 meters at most) nor particulary clean, but the water is warm and swimming is pleasant if you don't think about the probable pollution. One of the fascinating parts of lakeside is the splendid view of the mountains, especially when the still water reflects the peaks, creating a double image.

Begnas lake and Rupa lake

The lakes are located about 15km from Pokhara at the end of a road that turns north from the highway to Kathmandu. Divided by the forested hillock called Panchabhaiya Danda, the lakes offer the perfect nature retreat because of their relative seclusion. Splendid boating and fishing can be done here.

Barahi temple

This is the most important religious monument in Pokhara. Built almost in the middle of Phewa lake, the two storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protectress deity representing the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity.

World Peace Pagoda

The pagoda is a massive Buddhist stupa and is situated on top of a hill on the southern shore of Phewa lake. Besides being an impressive sight in itself, the shrine is a great vantage point which offers spectacular views of the Annapurna range and Pokhara city. You can get there by crossing the lake by boat and then hiking up the hill.

Seti Gandaki

Flowing right through the city, the boisterous river runs completely underground at places. Amazingly, at certain points the river appears hardly two meters wide. But its depth is quite beyond imagination - over 20 meters! Mahendra Pul, a small bridge near the old Mission Hospital, provides a perfect view of the river's dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by its powerful flow.

Devi's Fall

Locally known as Patale Chhango (Hell's Fall), Devi's fall (also known as Devin's or David's) is an awesome waterfall lying about 2 km south-west of Pokhara airport on the highway to Tansen. An interesting modern legend says that a foreigner named David was skinnydipping in the Pardi Khola (river) when the floodgates of the dam were opened, sweeping him into an underground passage beneath the fall, never to be seen again.

Gupteswar Gupha

Gupteswar Gupha, a sacred cave, lies 2 km from Pokhara airport on the Siddhartha Highway leading southwest from the city. The entrance is right across from Devi's Fall and the cave is almost 3 km long. It has some big hall-size rooms and some passages where you have to crawl on all fours. This cave holds special value for Hindus since a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva is preserved here in the condition it was discovered.

Mahendra Gupha

Mahendra Gufa, locally called Chamero Odhaar ("House of Bats"), is the large limestone cave. Shepherd boys are said to have discovered it around 1950. A two hour walk to the north of Pokhara, it is best to bring your own torch to see the stalactites and stalagmites, although most of them have been carted out by souvenir hunters.

Bindbyabasini Temple

Bindhyabasini temple is the center of religious activity in the old bazaar. It is dedicated to goddess Bhagwati, yet another manifestation of shakti. Worshippers flock here to perform sacrifices, and especially on Saturdays the parklike grounds take on a festive fair.


Pokhara Museum, located between the airport and Mahendra Pul, reflects the ethnic mosaic of western Nepal. The lifestyles and history of ethnic groups such as the Gurung, Thakali and the Tharu are attractively displayed.

Annapurna Museum, also known as the Natural History Museum, is located at Prithvi Narayan Campus east of the old bazaar. Managed by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), the museum has an exceptional collection of butterflies, insects, birds, and models of wildlife as well as samples of various precious and semi-precious stones and volcanic rocks.


Tansen (Palpa)

Tansen (meaning "northern settlement" in Magar language), an ancient hill town, with its architecture strongly influenced by Newari migrants from the Kathmandu valley is waiting to be discovered by the tourists. Situated at the southern slope of the Mahabharat range; about half way from the Indian border to Pokhara and the Himalayas, this town offers an opportunity to experience genuine Nepalese culture.
The town of Tansen is a prosperous looking- collection of red brick houses set on the steep hillside and is among the largest far-flung Newar trading posts scattered across the hills. Though the Newar community forms one of the major communities in this place now, the place originally belonged to the Magar community, one of the most delightful ethnic groups of Nepal.

Tundikhel, the large plateau in the southeast part of the town, near the bus park, is the best starting point to discover the fascinating destinations of the town. The former kings of Palpa made this artificial plateau when they needed a drilling and parade ground. A statue of King Birendra marks the southwest corner of the Tundikhel; the building at the north side is the town hall.

Amar Ganj Ganesh Temple is a beautiful three-storey pagoda style temple. The rest house of the temple that has space to shelter thousand people has been converted into a school. On the premises of the school, there's an old small one-storey temple of Bhairab. The mask of Bhairab, which is worshipped here, was snatched from Kathmandu by Mukunda Sen, King of Palpa. To
get here, one needs to follow the northeast path from Tundhikhel.

Amar Narayan Temple is one of the largest temples in Tansen. The whole temple complex, including the temples, the ponds and the park was built under the reign of Amar Singh Thapa, the first governor of Palpa. According to a legend, a holy spring (or lake) is hidden under the three-storey pagoda style Narayan Temple. The two other temples of the ensemble are dedicated to Vishnu (to the west, next to one of the ponds) and to Shiva (to the south, next to the staircase). The remarkable huge dry stone masonry wall surrounding the whole premises is called "The great wall of Palpa". One can get here by taking a west path from Tundikhel and then turn right to get to the temple at its upper end.

Sital Pati (shady restplace), near Ason Tole, is the most popular square in Tansen. The square is named after the white octagonal shaped building, that lies in the middle of the square. The Sital Pati was built under the order of Khadga Shamsher, governor of Palpa from 1891- 1902.
The south corner of the square leads to Baggi Dhoka, the main gate to the Tansen Durbar, the former palace and today's district administration's headquarter. Baggi Dhoka is the gate where the chariots of religious festivals have to pass through. The fine woodcarvings on the buildings on both sides of the gate represent the fine Newari craftmanship. This Baggi dhoka leads to the palace grounds. The right route leads to the Bhagwati Temple, that was built in 1815 by Col. Ujir Singh Thapa to commemorate the victory over the British-Indian troops in the the battle of Butwal.
If you return to the Durbar grounds and continue your way to the palace itself, you will find an older, smaller palace, built in 1927. Today the Durbar houses the district's administration. There still exists a room called "the throne hall" in the Durbar's second floor.
The gate opposite to the palace leads to Makhan Tole, the main bazaar of Tansen that focuses the town's commericial activity, notably the sale of Dhaka cloth. Of woven cotton or muslin, this cloth is characterised by jagged, linear designs orginally made famous in Bangladesh. With principal colours of red, black and white, the cloth is used to make saris as well as "topis" (Palpali topi), the hat that is an intergral part of the national dress for men.

Taksar is another interesting place of the town, where for centuries the famous bronze and brass works of Tansen were produced. One can have a look at how the famous ancient articles such as Karuwa (water jug), Hukka (water pipe), Antee (jug for Nepali brandy) etc are produced

Shreenagar hill, at 1525 m high, is about an hour uphill from the town center. While climbing this hill, one can not only enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view of the Himalayas running from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east, but also get pleasure of passing through peaceful forest, pine plantation and decidious forest with a lot of beautiful rhododendron flowers. There is a statue of Buddha at the eastern end of Shreenagar ridge. It takes about half an hour to reach this statue. Thai monks donated the Buddha statue with the monkey and elephant. It commemorates a part of Buddha's life. According to the legend, when Buddha was meditating in a jungle for roughly three months, a monkey and an elephant served him in many ways.

Gorkha

Gorkha, situated at 140km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meter, is the ancestral hometown of the Nepal's ruling royal family. Gorkha is only 18 km up a paved road of the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway. A brief visit on the way to or from Pokhara would provide more insights into Nepal than one is likely to get at lakeside in Pokhara.
Gorkha's small town is perhaps the most important historical town of Nepal. From its hilltop fortess, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ninth generation paternal ancestor of the present King, launched his lifelong attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal, a wildly ambitious project which succeeded due to his brilliance, and the effectiveness of his locally recruited troops. The British term "Gurkha" evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region.
Gorkha's centerpiece is the magnificent Gorkha Durbar with a fort, a palace and a temple with excellent views of the surrounding valleys, and the Mansalu range.
Of Interest
Gorkha Bazaar is primarily a cobbled street market place where by people from neighboring hill dwellings come to trade. There are a few temples near about, but not much. Yet, it is worth a visit as it provides a very good vista of the quiet charm that soaks a typical hill village of Nepal.
Gorkha Durbar is the main attraction of Gorkha, an hour steep walk up a hill from the bazaar area. It used to be the dwelling of King Prithvi Narayan and his ancestors. The Durbar itself is a humble, yet quite impressive, complex of a temple, fort, and a palace built in the Newar style of Kathmandu. The view of the Himalayan range and the deep valleys from up there is quite breathtaking.
Gorakhnath Cave, ten meters below the palace's southern side, is the sacred cave temple of Gorkhanath. The cave is is carved out of the solid rock and is among the most important religious sites for mainstream Brahmins and Chhetris of Nepal.

Lumbini

Situated at the Terai plains of the southern Nepal, Lumbini is the place where Siddhartha Gautam, the Shakya Prince and the ultimate Buddha, the Enlighted One, was born in 623 BC. The sacred place, marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC
About 30km east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha grew up as the Shakya dynasty prince, until he renounced it at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment.
The main attraction at Lumbini remains the Sacred Garden, which is spread over 8 sq.km and possesses all the treasures of the historic area. Today as part of the global initiative to promote Lumbini, many countries have built or are building temples, monastries or stupas near the Sacred Garden in the International Monastery Zone. Temples or shrines that have finished their construction so far are Myanmar Temple, International Gautami Nuns Temple, China Temple, The Nepal Buddha Temple and the Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihara.

Ashoka pillar, carrying an inscription identifying the holy site as the birthplace, is situated nearby the Sacred Garden. To one side of Ashoka pillar is the Mayadevi Temple which houses a bas relief depicting the nativity. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a "foot imprint", indicating the exact place of birth. The Puskarni pond, where Queen Mayadevi, the Buddha's mother, had taken a bath before giving birth to him lies to the south of the pillar. Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana. Here are a lot of chaityas, stupas and viharas to see. The Muktabandhana stupa is believed to have been built by Malla dynasty to preserve the temporal relics of Lord Buddha.


Janakpur

Named after the legendary King Janak, Janakpur was the capital of the ancient Indian Kingdom Mithila, the native country of goddess Sita, the wife of the Hindu god Rama and the heroine of the great Hindu epic Ramayana. Today Janakpur stands as the most cleanest and interesting
place among all the towns of Terai.
Janakpur has become a great piligrimage site for Hindus today. The most sacred sites are the Janaki Mandir, dedicated to goddess Sita, the Ram Sita bibaha(marriage) mandir, built over the spot where Ram and Sita were said to be married, Ram Mandir, dedicated to god Ram and the holy pond Dhanush Sagar.

Besides the religious importance, Janakpur is also the center for the revival of the ancient Mithila art and craft. As a tradition, Mithila women have always been decorating the walls of their houses with paintings depicting figures from Hindu mythology in
abstract forms, sometimes resembling a mandala


Chitwan National Park

For a country known for its beautiful mountains, the Gangetic flat lands of the Terai that stretches through out the southern part of Nepal provide a wholly different experience.
The Royal Chitwan National Park, established in 1973, provides a great wildlife experience with its rich flora and fauna –read further for more details. The wildlife and the landscape are not as breathtaking as those found in Africa but still, the experience will stand out.

Flora and Fauna
The flora and fauna of Chitwan makes it a great place for nature lovers. Chitwan has over 50 different species of mammals, 400 different species of birds, and 65 different types of butterflies in its hardwood Sal forests, riverine vegetation, and "elephant grass" savannah. More than 70 different species of grass grow here.
The most famous wildlife in Chitwan is perhaps the single-horned Asian rhinoceros.
Other wild mammals one may see are Bengal tigers, leopards, various types of deer, monkeys, sloth bear, and antelope.

Royal Bardia National Park

The Royal Bardia National Park is the largest and most undisturbed wild area of the Terai. Simialar to Chitwan but drier and more remote, it encompasses 1,000 square km of riverine grassland and sal forests. Bardia has the country's second largest tiger population, plus blackbuck antelopes, a few wild elephants, Gharial crocodiles, birds and mammals, and some rare Gangetic dolphins in the Karnali River on its western border.


Sagarmatha National Park

Unique among natural heritage sites world-wide is the Sagarmatha National Park, which includes Mt. Everest (8,848 m) and other high peaks such as Lhotse Shar, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Kangtega, Gyachung Kang, Tharnserku and Kwangde. Located North-East of Kathmandu, Sagarmatha National Park is 1,148 sq km. in area and consists of the upper catchment areas of the Dudh Koshi, Bhote Koshi and the Imja Khola rivers. Much of the park lies above 3,000m. Sagarmatha is rugged, with deep gorges, glaciers and unnegotiable ice and rock faces. Locally known as the 'Khumbu', it is the home of the famous Sherpa people. The Sherpas make a living by farming barley and potatoes and graze their yaks in high altitude pastures. Young Sherpas have also made their name in mountaineering and the trekking industry has of late become the community's economic mainstay.
Trees such as rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000 meters above which they give way to scrub and alpine plants. Wildlife most likely to be seen in Sagarmatha are the Himalaya tahr, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel and occasionally jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard. Birds commonly seen are Impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, snow cock, snow pigeon, red billed and yellow billed chough, Himalayan griffin vulture and lammergeier.

World Heritage Sites In Nepal

Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Changu Narayan, Lumbini, Royal Chitwan National Park and Sagarmatha National Park have been listed as the World Heritage sites.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one question....

Is it a copy paste??

if not then marvelous!!!!!!!!

--
D

1:43 PM  
Blogger crystalmermaid said...

@Anonymous

well...yes, have copied n pasted certain things but not the whole thing

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many ppl have shown their interest in sepeding next vacation in nepal after reading this blog? :)

Don't count me, I am already in before reading this too, though this post gave me a better idea about destinations :D

--
DP

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good example of Ctrl-c Ctrl-v...

12:13 AM  
Blogger Dabal said...

Nice information!

1:31 AM  
Blogger Kamlesh Acharya said...

wah wah.. kya baat hai...
chaa gaye tussi...
kitna lamba lamba description...

but it was really interesting... nice info.. and a real productive info..
Nepal should pay u for marketing it so well :)

1:16 AM  
Blogger crystalmermaid said...

@ Anonymous 2
Yeah, lots of cntrl+c and cntrl+v....but even that took me almost 2 weeks. collecting and consolidating info was tough. n so tiring that i finally left it half way. havent put up all the pics yet. And there are still so many places to write about

1:59 PM  
Blogger crystalmermaid said...

@Dabal
Thnx :-)

2:00 PM  
Blogger crystalmermaid said...

@Dabal
Thnx :-)

2:00 PM  
Blogger crystalmermaid said...

@Kamlesh
Thnks for dropping by. Every place has so many stories attached, couldnt make the descriptions shorter ;-)
Lemme see about marketing...if i succeed in sending u, then will think about it :D

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