Sight-seeing in Kathmandu
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is named after Kasthamandap, a pagoda near Hanuman Dhoka Durbar (Palace), believed to have been built from the timber of a single tree. This city was built by Gunakama Dev in 723 A.D. in its present form.
During the tour of Kathmandu city, a visit will be made to Akash Bhairab Temple which is in the main city. The image of Akash Bhairab is displayed outside the temple for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra- the god of rain. A tour will also be made of Kathmandu Durbar Square which is the historic seat of Royalties.
This Durbar Square with its old temples and palaces optimizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is the same place where kings of Nepal were crowned and their coronations solemnized. Here you can see Taleju temple built by king Mahindra Malla in 1549 A.D.
What to see:
The gigantic idol of Kal Bhairab, the God of destruction. Basantapur Durbar or Nautalle (nine-storeyed) Durbar was built by king Prithvi Narayan Shah, coronation platform, the hall of public audience (Gaddi Baithak) the statue of king Pratap Malla, the big drums, the Jagannath Temple with erotic carvings.
There is also a temple of Panchamukhi Hanuman inside the old palace which is one of the only two such structures in Nepal, the other is in Pashupatinath. There are also a Numismatic museum and Tribhuvan museum inside the palace, where photography is prohibited. The museums remain closed on Tuesdays and on government holidays.
Pashupatinath temple dating back to 400 A.D. is one of the oldest Hindu temples dedicated to lord Shiva. It is for the Hindus what Mecca is for the Muslims. Situated amidst a lush green natural setting on the bank of the sacred Bagmati river, the temple built in Pagoda style has a gilded roof and richly carved silver doors.
Pashupatinath literally means the “Lord of Animals” and is considered as the main protector deity of Nepal. Pashupatinath is said to have been discovered by a cow herder who dug up the area after seeing one of his cows coming to the spot and emptying its milk there.
The inner sanctum of the temple has a lingam, a stone phallus with four faces around it. As one of the many forms of Lord Shiva, one of the three main gods of the Hindu trinity, Pashupatinath draws Hindu pilgrimage from all around the world especially on Maha Shivaratri, the “night of Shiva” which falls in early spring.
The temple and its surrounding complex is surrounded by a pantheon of other temples like the Kirateshwor Mahadev, Bhairav, Guheshwori, and the Gokarnanath each of whom have their own tale of origin and importance. Pashupatinath is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
One of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal Boudhanath is one of the holiest structures imposing a height of 36 meters with three massive level Mandala style platforms. It is surrounded by colorful buildings housing families creating a friendly enclosure. The stupa is visited every year by tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.
With a base of 82 meters in diameter, Bouddanath is claimed to be the largest Buddhist stupa in the world. There are many legends attached to Bouddhanath, chief among which is that of the 5th-century Lichivi king Manadev who built it to do penance. Today there are more than 50 monasteries surrounding Bouddanath which is also one of the seven monument zones which make up the world heritage sites of Kathmandu valley.
Swayambhunath ( also called Monkey temple) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu valley, west of Kathmandu city. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Nepal, second only to the great Boudhanath stupa, and a major tourist attraction.
The Swayambhunath stupa is a golden spire crowning a conical wooded hill. It is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. It has a lofty white dome and a glittering golden spire that are visible from all sides of the valley.
The stupa in its surroundings consists of chaityas, temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects. Located on a hill on the outskirts of Kathmandu, the temple offers magnificent views over the city and on a clear day to the mountains beyond.
At the heart of the temple complex is the stupa, topped by the painted eyes of Buddha, surrounded by prayer wheels and numerous smaller temples. Also an important Tibetan Buddhist site, the area provides a fantastic moment.
Amazing to look at, the architectural beauty of Swayambunath temple gives way to feelings of reverence and adoration. The stupa consists of a dome at the base and a cubical structure with eyes of Buddha looking in all the four directions. There is a pentagonal Toran present above each of the four sides with statues engraved in them.
Behind and above the Toran there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers, there is a small space above which the Gajur is present. According to Swayambhu Puran, the entire Kathmandu valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a mystical lotus.
The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning ‘Self-created’ or ‘Self-existent’. The Bodhisattva Manjushri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it.