Sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley

Sightseeing in Kathmandu ValleyKathmandu valley is a legendary land where gods mingle with mortal, ancient pagoda-roofed temples fill the skyline and where a devout population have created one of the finest human cultures on earth. The valley was originally a lake and its history begins with the Buddhist saint, Manjushree, who sliced a passage in the surrounding hills to drain out the water and made it inhabitable. Extremely fertile agricultural land, flourishing trade and a deeply religious population worked together to transform the valley into an enchanting center of art and culture unparalleled in the Himalayan region.

Kathmandu valley has an exotic setting. It is surrounded by a tier of green mountain wall above which tower mighty snow- capped peaks. It consists of three main towns of great historic, artistic and cultural interest: Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Kathmandu valley covers an area of 218 sq.miles. It is situated 4,423 ft. above sea level. The architecture started here by the Lichhavi and Mall Kings is marvellous.

The seventh World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu valley -designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO ) are the highlights of the valley.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly uncountable moments in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. The house of 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 building 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. A visitor who wanders around the square will see a round temple in the Pagoda architectural style, the temple of Goddess Taleju (who played dice with king Jaya Prakash Malla,) and an image of Shiva and Parbati sitting together among the many monuments. All woodcarving, statues and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine and Kathmandu Durbar Square is among the most important sights for travelers to see.

Swayambhunath Stupa

Some 5 kilometers west from the heart of Kathmandu lies the oldest Buddhist stupa of Swyambhunath on the top of a green hillock. For the Buddhist pilgrims, Swyambhunath has a very great significance. Many Buddhist pilgrims still have the same reverence as they had in the 12th century when it became the main center for learning Buddhism and other philosophy.
What strikes us is the history of existence even well before 2500 years or before the emergence of Buddhism itself. It's assumed that there may have been a projecting stone which was given much reverence by the people and later on became the center element of the stupa. History also says that it was erected by Monday I and King Ashoka may have visited the place in 2nd century B.C.

The stupa was destroyed by one of the Sultans' invasion of India in 1346which later on was reconstructed by one of the Malla Kings- Pratap Malla. Actually most of the renovations on the stupa were made by Pratap Malla. The stairway for example was one of his works. The 13 gilded rings on the spire are the 13 degrees of knowledge and they make an entire ladder of themselves to Nirvana; enlightenment which is symbolized by the umbrella on the top. The two eyes are symbols of justice, peace and calmness and the nose-like thing between the eye is the virtue to join earth and heaven and the point or probably the third eye just above the two eyes is said to be symbol of farsightedness.

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath temple as its name suggests is the Lord of the beasts- Pashu and pati mean beasts and lord respectively. It's about 6 kilometers east of Kathmandu by the side of the holy river "Bagmati" where pilgrims purify themselves before entering the sanctuary. This temple is completely dedicated to Lord Shiva who is a composite god. He is Bahairav in anger, Rudra , Ugra or Shava ( the corpse), Mahadeva ( the great god ) in peaceful motion and above all , Pashupati - the lord god of the beasts. He's also considered as the shepherd of animals and human beings. He is angry and wise. He is good and bad. He is both a destroyer and creator. Built in 1696 AD, it stands as a major pilgrimage in Nepal and India for Hindus. Nandi, the bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, which stands in front of the main center of Pashupatinath is also the symbol of fecundity (fertility). His Lingam ,Phallus, is worshipped to gain fertility. The large gilded triple roofed temple can be viewed from the opposite side of the holy river very easily. The projection of the main sanctuary is visible from the other side of the temple in the east to feast the eyes of the visitors. However, non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple.

Patan

About six or seven km. south of Kathmandu across Bagmati river lies just another city prominently known as Patan but has a secondary name of " Lalitpur " which means a "beautiful city". Full of arts, cultures and traditions. In a true sense, it has even more to give to the visitors than Kathmandu if we visit the ancient royal palace, monuments, stone pillar, Mahabouddha stupa Chaitya and Krishna temple. The very famous Krishna Mandir is right here to enthrall the visitors. Here also lies the magnificent Golden temple. The ancient Royal palace squares are just as fresh as before. They still have the same importance as ever.

Krishna Mandir is very famous and special type of stone temple; all made of stone. From the second floor Sikhara style emerges. It is said that the main divinity was installed in 1637. On horizontal beams the episodes of the great Hindus epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are depicted with the explanations of the story.

Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur means "the city of devotees" in the Sanskrit language.It is also known as Bhadgoan and was founded in 889 AD by King Anand Dev. The palace complex in the middle of the city portrays the prosperity of the Malla years and the details at which crafts people then worked. The palace of fifty five windows stands in the square and it was home to many kings of Bhaktapur. They even ruled over Kathmandu and Patan from the 12th century to the 14th century. The massive gate to the square was made by King Bhupatindra Malla (1696 to 1722) who took pride in his own engineering and building skills. Among the other monuments in Bhaktapur are- the big bell, the Golden Gate, the five tiered temple of Nyatpola, the Bhairab temple and the Dattaytreya square with its woodcarving and metal work musuems. Surrounded by beautiful farming area, the traveler to Bhaktapur will easily fall in love with the city.