I had been to Nepal twice, first time I had a solo trip. The second time I took my parents and one of my friend traveled with us. It was their first trip so, I was the guide 🙂 From my experience, here is my list of things you can’t miss in Kathmandu.
When I think about those trips, I feel fortunate because I had seen so many places of historical importance in good shape before the tragic earthquake of 2015. There is so much to see and do in Kathmandu. Moreover, it is a very inexpensive destination and favorite among backpackers. Nepal is very well connected with rest of the world. I took Delhi – Kathmandu flight and started and ended my trip in Kathmandu.
The most popular places in Kathmandu are Swyambhunath, Durbar Square, Pashupatinath, Patan City, stupa of Boudhanath, Hanuma Dhoka, Thamel and Kailashnath Mahadev Statue.
Swyambhunath – This temple is 2000 years old Buddhist shrine and is situated on top of the hill. This is one of the most popular place and also used as a symbol for Nepal in many places. The name Swyambhunath means self created, it is said that an eternal self-existent flame started burning here and later on a stupa was later built. over it. This temple is also known as the “Monkey Temple”. There are many small buildings and temples down the hillside around Swayambhunath.
View from the top of Swayambhunath is beautiful and I can see the whole Kathmandu city.
We climbed the stairs and reached the main stupa.There are two ways to climb the stairs to reach the stupa, one is from city side but stairs are very steep on that side and moreover if traveling by own car then parking is another issue. Another way to climb it from the back side, where stairs are less steep and climb is easy. At this side, there is a metallic statue in the water fountain and people throw coins in hand of the statue to get their wish fulfilled, this is very popular activity here.
Pashupatinath Temple – It is one of the most sacred Hindu shrine in the World. This temple complex is on UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it’s situated on the banks of river Bagmati. Photography is not allowed inside the temple. Another thing about the temple is that they don’t allow non-Hindu’s inside the temple. The main sanctum has a big four Shivalinga, which is the main place for worship. There are few more small temples inside the main compound but Bhairav’s temple is second in popularity after the main sanctum.
We came out from the backside of the temple from the stairs leading to the banks of the river Bagmati. This river is considered most holy and Nepali people consider auspicious to cremate their dead people on ghats of Bagmati’s to attain nirvana.
Kathmandu Durbar Square – It is Old Royal Palace of Nepal and there were many beautiful buildings & temples in this square. The temple of living goddess Kumari is one of the most popular and sometimes the goddess Kumari come to the window to give “auspicious sight” to devotees. Other interesting places to visit in Durbar Square are Jagannath temple known for colorfully painted erotic carvings, Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple, Hanuman Dhoka, Kal bhairav and Kasthmandap temple.
Kailashnath Mahadev’s Statue – This is another popular place, though it’s a new construction still popular. It is approx 20 km from Kathmandu city.
Thamel market is very popular among tourists and an interesting place to do souvenir shopping at cheap prices. I am not good at bargaining but if you are good at bargaining then you can get things at much cheaper price. Other then souvenirs, here I have found some interesting food items which you can take back home. Since Kathmandu is the point of arrival for Everest trekkers and for all many other Himalayan treks, so can find good trekking gear and other items at very good price.
Everest Flight – Everyone can’t go to the Everest but can definitely see Mountain Everest up close from an Everest flight. These special flights operate only in morning and duration of the flight is one hour. If you are lucky and weather is clear then snow-capped Everest is clearly visible but if there are clouds then you will end up seeing glimpse of it from clouds as it happened with me 🙁 But still I recommend this because one should take chances 🙂 You can also hike to from Jiri to Everest base camp.