The seven most popular landmarks of Kathmandu valley are also recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites (culture) in Nepal. Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal, is the political as well as cultural capital of the country. Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions rub shoulders with the latest technological advances. However, it is the splendor of the past that captivates the visitor whose gaze may linger on an exquisitely carved wooden window frame, the age-old bronze sculpture or the spiritually uplifting stupas.
Besides, Kathmandu Valley is also home to hundreds of other wonderful monuments, sculptures, artistic temples and magnificent art. In 1979, UNESCO selected Kathmandu Valley as a World Heritage site based on seven groups of cultural monuments. Thus, make a Kathmandu Tour and visit to the close proximity of the 7 most popular landmarks of the valley.
1. Changu Narayan Temple, one of the most popular landmarks of Kathmandu Valley, is located 4 km from Bhaktapur. This impressive double roofed temple is said to be the most ancient Vishnu temple in the Kathmandu Valley. This pagoda-style 4th century temple displays some of the finest examples of stone, wood, and metal craftsmanship of the Licchavi period (2nd to 9th century) including a life-sized 5th century stone statue of Garuda, the mythical man-bird carrier of Vishnu. The golden age of classical Newari art produced masterpieces that were entirely religious in character. The present pagoda-style temple was rebuilt in 1702 after it was destroyed by fire. The temple is UNESCO listed World Heritage site. To be precise, it is better to ride on Extended Kathmandu Valley Tour to capture the real grandeur of the temple.
2. Kathmandu Durbar Square, another impressive landmark of Kathmandu, was the seat of Nepal’s royalty till 1896. It is also known as Hanuman Dhoka Darbar or Basantapur Darbar. Hanuman Dhoka is the former Royal Palace of the Malla kings and sequentially of the Shah dynasty. Listed as one of the eight Cultural World Heritage site by UNESCO, Kathmandu Durbar Square is a cluster of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards and streets that date back to the 12th and 18th centuries. Furthermore, here you will see many fine examples of Malla, Shah and Rana period architecture. The construction of the Taleju Temple by King Mahendra Malla in 1576 heralded its cultural history and 61 listed monuments dating from the 17th and 18th centuries can be seen here. The Kumari Bahal (residence of Living Goddess Kumari) is one of the most famous sites in the square. Hanuman’s statue, dressed in a red cloak, placed outside the Darbar, is an object of devotion. Overall, the Darbar Square is known to be the social, religious and urban focal point of the capital city.
3. Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most sacred shrines of Hindu, was built in 1696 AD. It is situated 5 km east of Kathmandu on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple of lord Shiva, Pashupatinath, with a tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb architecture. The temple houses the six feet lingum (phallic symbol) of Shiva which has four faces, is known as Chaturmukhi, and dates back to the 14th century. Facing the main entrance of the temple is a 300 year-old bronze statue of Nandi (Shiva’s carrier, the bull). The Bagmati River is lined with dharmasalas and cremation ghats. There is usually a cremation in progress on one of the platforms by the river, regarded as holy as it flows into the sacred Ganges. Dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva, the shrines and temples of Pashupatinath attract thousands of visitors from within and outside the country every year. Entrance to the temple zone is forbidden to non-Hindus.
4. Boudhanath Stupa, one of the top landmarks of Kathmandu Valley, is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. With a diameter of 100 m and a height of 40 m, it is said to be the biggest stupa in the world. Located 7 km east of Kathmandu city center, it is also known as Khasti Chaitya. The largest stupa in Nepal was probably built in the 14th century after the Mughal invasions of Kathmandu Valley. Energized by the arrival of thousands of Tibetans after the 1959 Chinese invasion in Tibet, the temple has become one of the most important centers of Tibetan Buddhism. Buddha’s all-seeing eyes gaze out on all sides from the upper tower which is capped as a pyramid. Monasteries from all four schools of Mahayana Buddhism are located within the complex.
5. Swayambhunath Stupa, one of the famous landmarks of Kathmandu, is located on the top of a hill in west of Kathmandu. Known as the monkey temple, Syambhunath has remained substantially unchanged since the 14th century. An appreciation of the stupa is best gained by proceeding around it in a clockwise direction. One will see many chaityas, temples and deity images as well as a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Harati within the complex. Constructed to specific rules each with a symbolic meaning, the stupa of Swayambhunath is a model of its kind. Its dazzling white hemispherical mound represents the ladder to nirvana. If you are really interested to find some more interesting things about this age-old landmark of Kathmandu, it is better to go with Buddhist Cultural Tour in Nepal. The tour especially encompasses the important Buddhist sites in Nepal.
6. Patan Durbar Square, one of the most interesting historical and cultural landmarks of Kathmandu Valley, is in Patan. Patan is also known as Lalitpur or the “city of fine arts” and is the oldest city in the valley. It is the cradle of arts and architecture of the valley, a great center both of the Newari Buddhist religion and of traditional arts and crafts with 136 bahals or courtyards and 55 major temples. Well known among these are the Krishna Mandir, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Kumbheshwar temple, Jagatnarayan temple and the Mahabouddha temple. The Darbar Square has one of the most diverse collection of traditional architectural styles found nowhere in the world. This is evident in some of the temples on the western part of the square: Krishna Temple, Kumbheswor Temple, Bhimsen Temple and Hiranya Varna Mahavihar. The Square has three main courtyards: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk.
7. Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the culturally richest landmark of Kathmandu Valley, is in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon meaning the “city of devotees” lies 14 km east of Kathmandu. It is the home of medieval art and architecture and still retains its rich medieval aroma. Bhaktapur is the most charming and the best preserved city of the valley. The intricately carved temples and timeless atmosphere of this place is simply intriguing. If you are cultural enthusiast then join for Kathmandu Transit Tour and see the magic of age-old Bhaktapur Darbar. The Durbar square was built primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries. It contains a royal palace and many temples built in the traditional Newari-pagoda-style. The golden gate, entrance to the Durbar Square is a delight to the eyes, for an architectural beauty like this is hard to discover. But what lies inside will change your definition of beauty. The beauty of this UNESCO listed World heritage site surpasses words! It has a unique collection of monuments. Some notable ones are the Batsala Devi Temple, the Lion Gate, the Golden Gate, and the 55-Window Palace built in 1427.