Nepal attracts around a million foreigners every year. Tourists from all around the globe travel to Nepal to cross off the various things-to-do-before-I-die list activities. The geographically diversified landscape resulting in different thrilling adventures gives an adrenaline rush. If you are traveling to this nation of majestic Himalayas for the first time, you are going to get a lot of Goosebumps. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal will be your first stop in Nepal. Kathmandu has made to the Trip Advisor’s “Traveller’s Choice” top 25 cities to visit and the top in Asia. There are a lot of things Kathmandu has to offer too. The so-called “city of the temple” has fascinated people with its beautiful hills and ancient monuments. Here is a complete travel guide to Kathmandu city.
Getting to Know Kathmandu:
Kathmandu is a small city- you can say like the size of a peanut geographically but rich in natural and cultural beauty. The city with around 2000 years old history is said to be formed after drying off of a big lake. The name ‘Kathmandu’ was given from the ‘Kasthamandap Temple’ which is located at Durbar Square. Kasthamandap means a shelter made from the wood of a single tree. The valley is situated at 1400 meters asl.
Nepal is famous for its altitudinal variations- the lowest being 100 m asl to the highest point of the earth- i.e Mount Everest 8848m.
There are lush green meadows, deepest gorge, and serene hills. Kathmandu, being a valley, has many hill stations like Kakani, Dhulikhel, Nagarkot, Chandragiri, and Shivapuri.
Places to visit in Kathmandu City:
Within the small area, Kathmandu is full of interesting things to observe. There are people belonging to various cultures and they have their own monuments. There are over 130 of such cultural sites in Kathmandu. Here are some ‘must visit places’ around the city.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Also called Basantapur Durbar Kshetra, this is one of 3 royal palaces of Kathmandu Kingdom. There are architectures depicting the talent of craftsmen over the centuries. The monuments had their own pride- it was home to ancient kings where they legitimized their kingship.
Over the area, there is Basantapur area to the south, temples to the west and a local market in the northeast. You can also see a building where the living goddesses, Kumari lives.
Many festivals (jatras) are performed on special occasions.
Swayambhunath, the oldest monument in the valley is known as Monkey Temple. It was erected back in the 5th century by the great-grandfather of King Manadev. In Tibetan ‘Swayambhunath’ means ‘Sublime Trees’. This indicates the varieties of flora found on the hilltop where the stupa stands.
There are 365 stone steps on the entrance where many people move up and down each morning to burn the calories. At the top, there is a Buddhist stupa with four eyes watching the valley. There are other many small shrines and temples each beautiful than the other.
There is also a Buddha Park with three huge statues of Amitabha Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Avalokiteshvara.
This is a highly acclaimed religious place for Hindus all around the globe. The temple located at the bank of Bagmati River is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built 5th century, which was later reconstructed in the 19th century.
Pashupatinath definitely boosts your inner self with its calming environment. Every day at around 5 pm, the worshippers do Aarti (a special worshipping) which is truly mesmerizing.
If you are in Kathmandu, Pashupatinath is not a place you’d want to miss visiting.
This is another sacred monastery- a pride of Nepal.
There is a huge Mandala upon which the stupa rests. There is 108 small depictions of Dhyani Buddha and the prayer wheel engraved with the mantra. The place was reconstructed to look even more beautiful after the 2015 earthquake.
Like all three above, Boudhanath is also in the UNESCO world heritage site.
Best place to eat in Kathmandu:
Every time you visit a new place, the hunger for the unique taste of food unavoidable. Kathmandu is a great place for your hungry stomach. It will leave you shocked with its culinary magic. Here are some places you should definitely give a try.
Tukche Thakali Kitchen:
You must have heard of Nepalese Dal Bhat Tarkari combination. Well, do you know that the real taste of this combination comes from the Himalayan region of Nepal made by the people who are also called Thakali?
The Thakalis have a special set of this combination that will memorize your tongue. There are many Thakali Kitchens in Kathmandu, but they aren’t the authentic one as the other. Over Lazimpat-Utter Dhoka, there is a famous restaurant, Tukche Thakali which will blow you away.
There is also some of those in Thamel like Mustang Thakali Chulo.
There are some authentic Himalayan Java coffee centers in Kathmandu- one at the end of the Basantapur Durbar Square. It has been promoting Nepalese Coffee since 1999 AD and serves the best coffee in town.
Lazimpat is a famous tourist area with some of the most luxurious hotels. Every one of them has their own uniqueness and will keep you surprised. The live music along with devouring delicacies will also add to the fun.
To name a few there is Trisara, Irish Pub, Votto, and Antique Bar.
Themel, the tourist hub has varieties of restaurants with the best cuisines.
If your tough have any specific craving, here’s a list:
o La Dolce Vita Restro
o Fire and Ice
o Roadhouse Café
o Bon Appetite Café
• Confectionaries and cakes
o Third Eye Bakeries
o Everest Bakery
• Bars, live music and clubs
o Purple Haze Rock Bar
o Reggae Bar
And for the vegans and vegetarians, check out OR2K.
Do and don’t in Kathmandu City
- Always carry a mask- the pollution of Kathmandu can get you badly sick
- The traffic can go crazy sometimes; be prepared
- Internet speed might disappoint you, it’s very slow. You can take a local SIM card then use the cellular data which might give better performance.
- There might be occasional electricity blackout- keep torchlight with you. Even though the “periodic electricity blackouts’, does not exists there might be some technical blackouts.
- Nepal is a quite safe travel destination, but be careful with your belongings
- Cycling inside the valley might not be so good, ride out to the valley
- People in Nepal like to negotiate the price for everything, so you can also enjoy some haggling for the best deals.
- If you ever take a cab or a taxi, always to negotiate the price beforehand.
So this is it. Have a great stay in Kathmandu.