Kathmandu – a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Kathmandu – a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Nepal is famous all over the world primarily for mountain climbing and Buddhism. Thousands of tourists come to the capital of the country, Kathmandu, every year. For lovers of mountain climbing it is just a point of the route on the way to the Himalayas, and the adherents of spiritual quests go here to touch the rich ancient culture. But you don’t have to climb Everest or spend time in a monastery alone. Kathmandu is primarily a major center of world tourism. The local nature and famous attractions will make the vacation here an unforgettable experience for every traveler. How to get there and what interesting things to do in Kathmandu?

How to get there

The city has an international airport, Tribhuvan. Because of its location in a valley surrounded by mountains, it is considered one of the most challenging in the world. Flights here are operated by both the world’s major airlines and low-cost low-cost airlines. The fastest way to get from the airport to the city itself is by cab. Be sure to haggle over the price. As in other Asian cities, there is a perception of Europeans in Kathmandu as very rich people. Therefore, prices can be inflated by 2-3 times. By the way, this applies not only to cabs, but also to any purchase in the city.

Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Where to Stay

Kathmandu is a typical Asian city, with its not always clear rules of the road, animals in the middle of the road, low-rise buildings. The high unemployment rate makes the locals hang on to their jobs, so the service is top-notch everywhere. Hotels for every taste and purse can be found in any part of the city. But the best area to stay is Tamel . There are European restaurants, inexpensive hotels and no unusual for tourists heaps of garbage and animals on the streets.

Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

What to see

Seasoned travelers say of Kathmandu that it itself is one big attraction. The best way to see the city is on foot, because public transport is inaccessible to visitors because of the unclear timetable and lack of traffic rules. Of course, the most interesting places to see would be the temples. A temple here is not just a building for religious ceremonies, it is often an entire city districts with their own unique architectural ensembles.

The most famous place is the Bodnath Stupa in the temple center of the same name . This sacred symbol of Buddhism is located in an area full of temples, monasteries and souvenir stores. Pilgrims from all over the world come to worship at the shrine and just to stroll in the ancient area. It is especially beautiful here in the dark, when the stupa is illuminated by oil lamps.

Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Another major temple complex with a sacred stupa is called Swayambunath. It is located on the outskirts of the city, and is also known as the monkey temple. It is home to many of these animals. The stupa is set on a high mountain, it leads to 365 steps, the number of days in the year. The mountain offers a beautiful view of the valley and the snow-capped Himalayas.

The temple of the living goddess Kumari is very interesting for tourists. Here, until she comes of age, there lives a girl who is worshipped as a goddess. Sometimes you can see her in the window of the temple, but it is strictly forbidden to take pictures of her. You can take pictures only once a year, on the day of the national holiday Indra Jatra.

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Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

Kathmandu is a city among the mountains. What to do in the capital of Nepal?

And of course, a stay in Kathmandu is impossible without a visit to Durbar Square, the religious and cultural center of the city, which is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Here, in the period from the 12th to the 18th century temple complexes and palaces were built. Monks were crowned here, so the square is also called the Royal. In 1934, there was a devastating earthquake, many buildings and monuments were destroyed, and then rebuilt. Unfortunately, not all of them were reconstructed in their original form. One of the most famous structures on the square is the Jagannath Temple. It was built in the 13th century, and was destroyed and rebuilt twice – in the 15th century and 1936. The final restoration of the temple took place at the end of the 20th century.

It is impossible to visit all the famous places of Kathmandu in one day. Travel agencies and local guides offer different programs of stay for several days. In any case, an unforgettable adventure awaits the traveler.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city of the state of Nepal, its cultural and historical center. Kathmandu lies in the mountain valley of the Himalayas, at an altitude of more than 1300 m above sea level, and is home to more than 1 million people.

Numerous tourists and pilgrims Kathmandu attracts numerous temple centers, monasteries, narrow streets that have not changed their appearance for centuries, and bizarre buildings, combining the traditions of two religions – Buddhism and Hinduism. The sights of Kathmandu, along with the monuments of Patan and Bhaktapur, are unique and are listed by UNESCO as one World Heritage Site, the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site.

Save on your trip to Kathmandu!

Video: Kathmandu

Highlights

Life in Nepal’s capital city is always lively. Crowds of people walk the streets and motorcycles and cars pile up in spontaneous traffic jams. You can constantly hear the honking of cars, bicycle rickshaws, whistles and the melodious tinkling of ritual bells. Tourists who have been to Kathmandu have commented on the friendliness and smiling nature of its people.

In the spring of 2015, Nepal experienced a series of major earthquakes, which killed many people, destroyed houses and architectural monuments. The country’s capital was no exception. In Kathmandu, many religious buildings and palaces on the UNESCO World Heritage List were destroyed or damaged. The world community was not left out of the trouble – Nepal has received a lot of international support and is rapidly recovering. To date, the country has almost completely recovered from the earthquake, all roads and streets in Kathmandu have been cleared, and the main monuments and attractions are once again open to tourists.

The best time to visit the capital of Nepal are from March to April and October to November. At this time of the year, travelers to Kathmandu are guaranteed cloudless skies and comfortable temperatures. In the early spring and fall, the most colorful Nepali festivals and holidays such as Holi, Diwali, Shiva Night, and Nepali New Year are also held here.

Most tourists prefer to stay in the Thamel district, which is a 20-minute walk north of the famous Durbar Square. There are many hotels, Internet cafes, restaurants, cheap shops and travel agencies. The area was virtually unscathed by the earthquake, as the buildings there are made of reinforced concrete with modern technology.

Streets in Kathmandu

History of Kathmandu

The ancient history of the Nepalese capital is described in tales and legends. The oldest statue found in the city was made in 185 AD. In the 4th century, representatives of the Likchavi dynasty came to the valley of Kathmandu. They conquered the local rulers and founded their own kingdom ruling the surrounding land until the XII century. Kathmandu was founded during the rule of Likchavi in 723. It became a city that played a major role in the trade between China and Tibet.

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Kathmandu in 1793

In the 12th century a new dynasty, the Malla, who had migrated to the foothills of the Himalayas from the south because of Muslim pressure, began to rule in the Kathmandu valley. In the early years of Malla’s rule there was a massive earthquake in the valley and a third of the city was destroyed. Despite the difficulties, however, Kathmandu quickly recovered and continued to serve as an important staging post for trade caravans carrying goods from China to Tibet and back.

In 1768, the Malla dynasty ceased to exist, the valley became part of the Gorkha kingdom, and the city was given the status of its capital. In the mid-19th century, after a terrible massacre in which almost all members of the ruling dynasty were killed, the state and its capital were headed by Jung Bahadur Rana – the founder of the Rana dynasty. During this dynasty the Nepalese endured much religious persecution. They lived under tyranny and constant economic exploitation. The country’s isolation from the rest of the world was eased only after the end of World War II.

Kathmandu in the 1940s Kathmandu in the 1960s Kathmandu in 1993

Earthquake 2015

The highland territory is prone to earthquakes, and they happen here regularly. In the 20th century, the 1934 earthquake brought great destruction.

In the spring of 2015, the elements struck Nepal twice. Strong tremors of magnitude 7.8 and 7.3 occurred on April 25 and May 12. The epicenter of the earthquake was 80 km away from Kathmandu. The consequences of the tremors were catastrophic: 8,000 people died and about 14,000 were injured under the debris of collapsed buildings.

The aftermath of the 2015 Kathmandu earthquake

The April 25 earthquake lasted only 20 seconds, but it was enough to completely destroy about 2,000 homes and damage another 4,000. In the area Sindhupalchok, northeast of the Nepalese capital, more than 90% of all buildings were destroyed. The country estimated the total damage from the earthquake at $7 billion.

The aftermath of the 2015 Kathmandu earthquake

In Kathmandu, many historical, architectural and religious monuments have been completely destroyed or damaged. In the center of the city stood the Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower had already suffered damage from a previous major earthquake in 1934, but after repairs in 2005, it was opened to tourists. Travelers loved going up to the Shiva Temple, which was located on the tenth floor of the tower. Underneath it was an observation deck from which one could admire the old quarters of Kathmandu. During the last earthquake the high tower collapsed and under its debris killed about 200 people, almost all of them foreign tourists. In addition, underground tremors in Kathmandu destroyed the historic Hanuman Dhoka Square, Narayan and Maju temples, as well as some structures in Durbar Square.

Many countries, international organizations and private donors provided substantial support to Nepal. A whole team of rescuers who flew to Kathmandu from all over the world worked to clear the rubble and provide medical assistance to the victims.

Climatic Peculiarities

Nepal’s capital city is located in a mountainous region and the Himalayas have a profound effect on the weather in the Kathmandu Valley. Daytime temperatures can vary as much as 15°. If it’s cool in the morning, it gets hot in the afternoon and you have to take off your outerwear.

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During the winter months, daytime temperatures range from +8°C to +18°C, and nighttime temperatures range from 0°C to +11°C. From December to February, there is often heavy fog in Kathmandu. The warmest period of the year is from May to September. Daytime temperatures range from +19 ° C to +27 ° C, and at night the thermometer reads +17. +22°С.

Most of the year there is not much precipitation in Kathmandu, there are only 2-4 rainy days per month. From May to August the rainfall increases significantly and the humidity rises to 80-85%. Rains and showers with thunderstorms occur every day or every other day. September is considered a transitional month to the dry season.

Bhaktapur and Patan.

Besides the modern capital in the vast valley of Kathmandu, there are two other cities that in former times had the status of major cities of the hill state. In Bhaktapur or the “city of believers”, located 16 kilometers from Kathmandu, live Hindus. Many Hindu religious monuments can be seen here. There are more than ten temples dedicated to Vishnu, the sumptuous palace of the Malla rulers, the Shiva-Parvati and Batsala Devi temples, and the Lion’s Gate and the Golden Gate. Travelers must pay about 1,200 Nepalese rupees to explore the old city area.

The oldest settlement in the valley is the city of Patan, whose old name Lalitpur means “city of beauty”. In earlier times, Patan was an independent city, but today it has merged with the Nepalese capital. There are many artisans who are fluent in metal working techniques. Go to Patan to see the terracotta temple of the Thousand Buddhas, the place of coronation of the kings of the hill state – Buddhist monastery Rudravarnah-Mahabihar, temples, which decorate the images of Krishna and Ganesha, and the only zoo in Nepal.

Attractions of Kathmandu

The old part of the city attracts the most tourists. It is here that one can see the historic Durbar Square. It houses the royal palace and three chuoka (courts) with several temples built in the traditions of Nevar architecture. Durbar Square is one of the busiest places in Kathmandu. The reddish terracotta buildings here look particularly good at dawn. To see the historic sights of Durbar Square, you have to pay 200 Nepalese rupees.

Durbar Square in Kathmandu Swayambunath

In the west of Kathmandu stands the stupa of Swayambunath or Monkey Temple. In translation, the name of this revered Buddhist shrine means “self-made.” It occupies an elevated position and is clearly visible from the vantage points of Durbar Square. At the foot of the stupa is a long stone staircase with 365 steps – the number of days in the year. From the temple platform, one can see the city as if in the palm of his hand. Contrary to expectations, there are few monkeys near the stupa and they are constantly being fed by tourists and servants.

Kathmandu is home to the revered Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, dedicated to the god Shiva. It has grown into a large temple complex and daily receives thousands of pilgrims coming from different countries, especially from India. Here you can always see colorfully dressed wandering yogis – sadhus. Around the temple live many monkeys who go about their business, paying little attention to tourists. Nepalis can enter the temple for free, but citizens of other countries pay a fee of 500 Nepalese rupees.

On the western bank of the Bagmati River there are several Hindu temples where only adherents of that religion are allowed. From the opposite, eastern bank of the river you can see the funeral rituals taking place there. The stone pedestals where the dead are cremated (Burn Gaths) are located right along the riverbank. To the north of the bridge are the high caste bases for the dead, and to the south are the lower caste sites where the bodies of the lower castes are burned. Burning fires, the smell of smoke, and garlands of flowers floating on the river create a special atmosphere. On the opposite bank there is an orphanage founded by Mother Teresa, where the poor and hungry can get food.

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Near the temples, a special house is built where old people who are waiting to die go. They spend their last days there. The Bagmati is considered a sacred river, and one bathes in it for ritual purification, just as in the Ganges. Here the dead are also washed before being burned, and when cremation is complete, the remaining ashes are lowered into the river.

On the outskirts of Kathmandu is the largest Buddhist stupa in the country and one of the largest in the world, Bodnath. Huge expressive eyes are painted on the religious monument, and the statues around the stupa are decorated with fresh flowers. In many places, ropes with colored Nepali flags are stretched out with the texts of mantras written on them. Ritual drums are placed near the stupa and are traditionally rotated by all Buddhists who come here.

In Kathmandu, not far from the tourist district of Thamel, the beautiful Kaiser Mahal or Garden of Dreams is located. It has almost tame chipmunks, neat flowerbeds, and neo-classical light buildings peeking through the green trees.

Kaiser Mahal Park in Kathmandu

Local Food

The most popular dish in Kathmandu, which can be ordered almost everywhere, is momo (dumplings) stuffed with buffalo meat or chicken. They came to the local cuisine from Tibet. Momo are usually steamed or fried. Any restaurant serves a thick, rich bean soup, kwati, and daal bhaat tarkaari, a vegetarian dish consisting of lentils, rice, vegetables, spices, and spicy herbs.

Kathmandu restaurants offer many delicious dishes that are traditional to Nepal and Tibet. They are simple to prepare and have an unusual taste. Many dishes are cooked with mustard oil and also with oil made from yak milk. The food is subtly flavored with an abundance of spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, black and Sichuan pepper, coriander, turmeric, green onions, and coriander. Local chefs also like to add jimba, a Himalayan plant that tastes like onions and garlic, to their dishes.

Jalebi Bean soup Daal bhaat tarkaari Curry from Kathmandu Buffalo kebab Spiced Hotdog with chicken and vegetables Lunch

The restaurants in Nepal’s capital city make very tasty buffalo steaks and banana pancakes. Most of the Hindus living here adhere to a vegetarian diet, so there are many dishes of rice, pulses and vegetables seasoned with hot sauces in Kathmandu. Rice and flatbreads are usually accompanied by dhau (sour milk) and paneer (pressed fatty curd).

Masala tea (Nepali chiya)

The traditional drink of Nepalis is tea, which is mostly drunk with milk. The most popular variety is Nepali chiya which is made from tea leaves boiled in milk and spices. An unusual taste is suja – salty tea with milk and butter. Very common are herbal teas and lassi, a drink made from salted or sweetened sour milk. Of the alcoholic beverages popular in Kathmandu are rum (kukri), rice wine (rakshi), and homemade beer (jaand or chyaang) made from rice, millet, and barley.

Since many foreign tourists come to Kathmandu, there are international restaurants in the city, as well as establishments where one can taste dishes of Japanese, Italian, Mexican, and French cuisine.

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Prices for food and ready meals are low. You can dine in a budget café for 250 Nepalese rupees and in a not-so-expensive restaurant for 300-350 NPR. Most restaurants that cater to tourists add a 10% service charge and 13% government tax to the bill. In cafes the tip is usually 5% of the bill. Information about this is usually listed on the menu.

Specials on hotels

Souvenirs

Kathmandu’s souvenir shops and markets offer so many exotic items that it’s overwhelming. One of the most popular souvenirs here is the famous Nepalese tea, which grows at altitudes of about 3000 meters above sea level. To make tea according to Nepalese traditions, it is worth buying a beautiful handmade teapot. Elegantly decorated teapots made of ceramic, metal and glass are sold everywhere.

As souvenirs are perfect textiles – scarves, stoles and blankets made from yak wool, as well as pashmina (cashmere) – a fabric made from the thin, warm and soft down of Himalayan goats. Many travelers prefer to take back from Kathmandu gold and silver jewelry, musical instruments and beautiful interior decoration items like statues, bowls, vases and paintings by local artists.

Street sellers of souvenirs Nepalese fabrics

Safety

Nepal and its capital city are considered completely safe for travelers. The atmosphere here is peaceful. The locals love visitors and treat them with great respect. There is no racism or religious intolerance in Kathmandu. You can’t get into trouble because of unusual clothing, skin color, or nationality on the streets of this city. Nevertheless, foreign tourists are asked to refrain from walking alone in Kathmandu in the late evening or at night.

Monkeys on the streets of Kathmandu

To rule out intestinal infections in Kathmandu, it is recommended to drink only boiled or bottled water, eat well-washed fruit and carefully wash your hands before eating.

A separate problem for tourists in Kathmandu are monkeys, which live here in large numbers. In the country they are considered sacred animals, which are allowed everything. Nepalis are very revered monkeys and the god Hanuman. Killing a monkey under local law can get you up to three years in prison. Tourists need to be careful and cautious, as some monkeys in Kathmandu behave aggressively and take away food, drinking bottles, cameras, phones, hats and sunglasses from gaping travelers.

Transportation

Absolutely all cabs that carry passengers around the city are equipped with meters, but some drivers refuse to use them. In this case, it is worth looking for another cab. The easiest places to catch a cab are near tourist centers, major hotels, and on the main streets. During the daytime driving in Kathmandu costs from 14 NPR, but after dark the prices go up and the fare starts from 21 NPR.

Cab Cars Near the Temple Bus Stop

Blue and green buses run on a circular route and are operated by conductors. Kathmandu’s bus fleet is old, but the locals are very friendly and always ready to help a foreigner who gets lost by suggesting the right stop.

In the central part of the city and places frequented by foreign tourists, you can find an exotic form of transport – bicycle rickshaws.

How to get there

Tribhuvan International Airport is located 5.56 kilometers east of Kathmandu. The flight from Moscow takes about 6 hours, however there are no direct flights, therefore you have to change from Delhi, Dubai or Sharjah to Kathmandu.

The trip from the airport to the city center by cab takes 15 minutes and costs 700 Nepalese rupees. The cab stand is outside the airport building. You need to exchange your currency for Nepalese rupees before boarding. It is not advisable to take buses to Kathmandu, as they are very crowded.

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