The capital city of Kathmandu is the cultural and political heart of Nepal. The Kathmandu valley constitutes of three districts; Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur- and is bounded by hills on all four sides: Saanga Bhanjyang from the East, Bad Bhanjyang from the west, Panchmane Bhanjyang from the North and Pharping Bhanjyang from the south. The landscape of green hills and the vista of the Himalayas in its surroundings add marvelous attractions of this valley. Cultural heritage is the principal identity of the Kathmandu valley which boasts of ancient temples, distinct culture, arts and artifacts. The place is also a center of faith for people from different religious backgrounds. The Pashupatinath Temple, Krishna Mandir and Changu Narayan Temple are considered the important holy sites for Hindu .devotees while, for the Buddhists, Swayambhunath Stupa and Bouddhanath Stupa are very important. There is a famous Jame Mosque for the Muslims and the city also has many churches built by the Christian community. Nepal is celebrating a tourism year on 2020 : Visit Nepal 2020.
Festivals, traditions and rituals reflecting the uniqueness of native Newar community of Kathmandu make the city more attractive and appealing to its visitors. Being the capital, Kathmandu is also the educational and commercial epitome of the country. It is the meeting point for people of all the religions, races and ethnic backgrounds.
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Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square, one of the three major palace areas of Kathmandu valley, is an ancient palace chat carries significant historical importance. Compared to the other palace squares in Bhaktapur and Lalitpur, This is the largest, and possesses finest examples of Newari craftsmanship on its temples, monuments and palace buildings built by different kings. Previously known as Gutaupo Palace in the Middle Ages, it got the name Hanuman Dhoka Palace in the 17th century after the then King Pratap Malla established an idol of monkey god ‘Hanuman’ in front of the palace entrance. It is also known as the Basantapur Palace Square for its nine storied palace built by King Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1769.
Within the periphery if Basantapur Durbar Square, there are different temples and monuments. The Kumari House is one of them. This three-storied house, sometimes also referreed as Kumari Bahal, is built in traditional Newari design. It is the residence of living goddess Kumari. Two stone lions guard the entrance of the house that leads to courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard is a Chaitya dedicated to Lord Buddha. Kumari is regarded the mother goddess of Malla kings and an incarnation of Goddess Taleju Bhawani. It was built in 1813 BS by King Jaya Prakash Malla. Only on rare occasions, the visitors are granted audience with Kumari.
Kasthamandap (which translates to wooden pavilion) is one of the attractive monuments of the Kathmandu Durbar Square. In the local Newari dialect, it is also known as Maru Satal. It is said this structure was constructed in the 12th century out of a single Sal tree. Originally, built as a rest house, it was later converted into a temple. Inside the Kasthamandap is a statue of Guru Gorakhnath Baba. Four Binayaks (form of Lord Ganesh); Jal Binatak, Surya Binayak, Karya Binayak and Ashok Binayak – surround this temple. There is a wooden pillar supporting the ladder that is said to have the power of healing ones’s backache and other forms of pain if they rubbed the affected body parts on it. Nepal is celebrating a tourism year on 2020 : Visit Nepal 2020.
Unfortunately, this historic monument collapsed to the ground on 25th May, 2015 when Nepal was struck by 7.8 magnitude Gorkha Earthquake. The reconstruction of Kasthamandap is on the process. Nepal is celebrating a tourism year on 2020 : Visit Nepal 2020.
King Pratap Malla
Within Hanuman Dhoka premises is a statue of King Pratap Malla erected on a huge stone pillar. Nearby this statue are two small statues of the king’s beloved wives, Anantapriya and Prabhawotidevi, and their five sons. Among the Malla rulers, King Pratap Malla was the most popular king. He was the son of King Laxmi Narsingh Malla. His regime is regarded as a golden period that promoted different kinds of arts. The fine progress in wood and metal carving was made during this time. The different creations and monuments within the periphery of Hanuman Dhoka are the result of King Pratap Malla’s passion for arts. It was during his reign; Mohankali Chowk, Sundari Chowk, Nasal Chowk and Bhandarkhal Garden were built. When he erected the statue of monkey god ‘Hanuman,’ the palace started being recognized as Hanuman Dhoka. King Pratap Malla had many queens. When he died, nine queens went Sati (Traditional Hindu practice where after husband’s death the wife also sacrifices her life in her husband’s funeral pyre). The Malla king ruled for 33 years until he died at the age of 51.
The Kathesimpu stupa is located 600 meters from Thamel, Kathesimpu Stupa serves as a substitute for Swoyambhunath Stupa. It is a replica of Swoyambhunath surrounded by Panchadhyani Buddha. It is believed that this stupa was established in 15th century by a tantric priest, Waku Bajracharya. It is said he had first established this stupa in Kashi of India. He later transferred the stupa using his tantric powers to its present location after noticing that the Jain people in Kashi were ignoring the importance of this stupa. It was originally known as Kashistupa. There are also different chaityas, temples and Gumbas in the area. Inside the Gumbas, there is statue of Avalokiteshwor, a diety with eleven heads and 1000 hands.
The nine-storied tower of Dharahara located in Sundhara is an iconic monument of Kathmandu built by Nepal’s first Pime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1825 AD. The tower is also sometimes referred as Bhimsen Stambha. The top floor of the 203ft. tower provides a panoramic view of Kathmandu Valley. A Shiva Linga has been set up on the top floor.
Situated to the east of Rani Pokhari is a clock tower, Ghantaghar, built by Prime minister Bir Shumsher in 1894 AD Ghantaghar’s original design was inspired by London’s Big Ben. It was renovated to its present state after the tower was damaged in the earthquake of 1934 AD. Currently, this tower is under reconstruction after being destroyed by April 2015 Earthquake.
Rani Pokhari was built by King Pratap Malla in 1670 AD to console his grief-striken queen after the death of their son, Chakrapatendra Malla. Water from different Hindu religious sites like Baranasi, Mukti Chhetra, Barah Chhetra, Trishuli and Gosainkunda were brought to fill the pond. To the south of the pond is a stone sculpture of the king and his son mounting on an elephant. The pond is opened to visitors twice every year, on the day during the Bhai Tika and Chhath festival. Currently, Rani Pokhari is under reconstruction after being destroyed by April 2015 Earthquake.
Narayanhiti Palace Museum
Narayanhiti Palace Museum is situated at Durbar Marg (King’s Way). After the People’s movement of 2006, the palace was turned into a museum. The name Narayanhiti comes from two words ‘Narayan’ (one of the names of Hindu diety Bishnu) and Hiti (water spout in Newari). The Narayanhiti Palace used to be the residence of various Shah Kings who ruled the country until 2006. Ranodeep Rapa captured the palace from Kaji Dhokal Singh Basnet and it was established as the Royal Palace by Bir Shumsher Rana in 1903 BS. After King Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah married the daughter of Bir Sumsher, the royal residence was shifted from Hanuman Dhoka Palace to Narayanhiti Palace. The splendid palace built during the time of King Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah was destroyed during the earthquake of 1934 AD which was renovated and turned into Tribhuvan Residence by King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah during his rule. The palace witnessed the massacre of the Royal family members in Jestha 19, 2058 BS. The museum is inspired by Western architecture and stands as the latest testimony of the lives lived by the Shah royals. At the entrance of the palace is Kaski Hall, where the royals held parties for the newly appointed state officials and foreign diplomats. The hall was also used to administer oath to government ministers and the place to accept credentials of newly appointed diplomats. The museum has 52 rooms named after Gorkha Hall and Tribhuvan Residence. In the Gorkha Hall, there are various paintings and the eight feet long throne used by the Shah Kings. The images of Sheshnaag, Astamaatrika and Astabhairav are on the pillars in the hall. Tribhuvan Residence is the only section of the museum that was retained after the Royal Massacre. The actual building where the massacre took place was demolished. The museum closes on every Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Nepal is celebrating a tourism year on 2020 : Visit Nepal 2020.