Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu Valley comprises the three ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, which were once independent states ruled by the Malla kings from the 12th to the 18th centuries. The three cities house seven UNESCO World Heritage shrines which are together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture). The valley is also home to hundreds of other exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic temples and magnificent art – reminders of the golden era in Nepal's architecture.

Legend has it that the valley was was once a primordial lake ringed by verdant mountains. In this pristine lake lived giant serpents until one fine day, saint Manjushree, the Bodhisatva, raised a mighty sword and in one fell swoop, cut open the side of a mountain at a place now known as Chobar. The voluminous waters of the lake gushed out, leaving behind a fertile valley capable of supporting large urban settlements over the millennia. The Gopala and Kirati dynasties were the earliest rulers here followed by the Licchavi (300-879 A.D.), under whom flourished trade and crafts.

But the valley's remarkable cities with their ornate palaces, the superbly crafted pagodas and the monumental stupas are testimony of the artistic genius of the Newar craftsmen, the original inhabitants of the valley, whose skills were championed by the Malla kings and appreciated even by the Mongol rulers of 18th century China.

Kathmandu -
Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal, is the political as well as cultural capital of the country. Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions rub shoulders with the latest technological advances. However, it is the grandeur of the past that enchants the visitor whose gaze may linger on an exquisitely carved wooden window frame, an 18th century bronze sculpture or the spiritually uplifting stupas. Like any big city, Kathmandu has seen rapid expansion in the last decade, but despite the hustle and bustle so typical of metropolitan cities, its people remain as refreshingly friendly as ever. Retaining its ancient traditions, Kathmandu is blessed by a Living Goddess and is enriched by endless ceremonial processions and events that take to the streets every now and then with throngs of devotees seeking blessings. These religious festivals are steeped in legend and are quite a spectacle with chariot processions and masked dancers often possessed by the spirits of deities.

Patan -
Patan, also known as 'Lalitpur', the city of artisans, lies 5 km southeast of Kathmandu, and is home to the valley's finest craftsmen who have preserved such ancient techniques as the repoussé and lost wax process used to produce exquisite sculptures. The city retains much of the old charm with its narrow streets, brick houses and multitude of well-preserved Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (vihars) and monuments. The predominant sound in Patan is that of the tinkering of craftsmen bent over the statuettes they are shaping. As in Kathmandu, Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed here for ages, influencing each other, and the religious harmony is exemplary.

Bhaktapur -
Perched on a hill at an altitude of 1,401 m, Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon, literally the City of Devotees, is a major tourist destination that takes visitors back in time. Bhaktapur lies 12 km to the east of Kathmandu on the Arniko Highway that leads to the Chinese border. Covering an area of 6.4 sq. km, Bhaktapur is still untouched by rapid urbanisation and has managed to retain its brickpaved roads, charming red brick houses and a way of life that goes back to medieval times. This ancient city is also famous for pottery and woodcarving amply displayed on the squares and windows respectively.

Things To Do

Speckled with temples, ancient palaces and courtyards, World Heritage monuments; surrounded by hills and snow-capped mountains; and inhabited by the most hospitable people, Kathmandu is an ideal place to go sightseeing.

It is a serious sport in Kathmandu. There are more than a thousand pubs and restaurants in the capital - from cultural evenings at the star hotels to simple trekkers' joints. At Kathmandu's restaurants, one gets infinite choices - from traditional Nepali food to Italian delicacies, Russian delights and spicy Indian specialties.

After a day of touring the valley's cities, there are plenty of ways to relax and entertain yourself in the evening - upbeat music, exciting dances, tasty food, choicest drinks, good cinema halls and casinos.

For a small town, Kathmandu has quite a number of casinos, all providing non-stop fun and games. Besides gaming, there is regular entertainment in the form of concerts and dance performances.

Nepal is a shopping destination for designer products such as Christian Dior, Gucci, Yves Laurent, Chanel, Nike, Givanchy, you name it. And thanks to lower overhead costs, Nepal's departmental stores and malls offer them at unbeatable bargain prices.

As for Nepal's handicrafts, they need no introduction. They have been coveted items since ancient times for their fine craftsmanship and supreme quality. The shops at Thamel, Kathmandu Durbar Square and Durbar Marg sell hand-knotted woolen carpets, jewelry, pashmina shawls, woolen knitwares, embroidery, thanka paintings, wood carvings, metal works, ceramics and pottery, rice paper and stationery.

Kathmandu offers two golf courses ranging from 9 to 18 holes and have been developed by world-class developers

It's an hour-long flight usually in the morning to see the Himalayan peaks, several of them above eight thousand meters, including Mount Everest, the world's tallest at 8,848 m. It is something not to be missed.