The Kathmandu Valley, located in Nepal, lies at the crossroads of ancient civilisations of Asia, and has at least 130 important monuments, including several pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites within this valley.
Historically, the valley and adjoining areas made up a confederation known as Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, were established. After the annexation of the valley by the Gorkha Kingdom, and subsequent conversion of the valley as the capital of their empire, the designation of “Nepal” was extended to every land they conquered.
Bhaktapur, literally “Place of devotees”, also known as Bhadgaon or Khwopa, is an ancient Newar city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, about 13 km from the capital city, Kathmandu. Bhaktapur was the largest of the three Newar Kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, and was the capital of Nepal during the great “Malla Kingdom” until the second half of the 15th century. Today it is the third largest city in the Kathmandu Valley. Historically more isolated than the other two kingdoms, Kathmandu and Patan, Bhaktapur has a distinctly different form of Nepal Bhasa language.
The Budanilkantha statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, located approximately 10 km from the center of Kathmandu at the base of the Shivapuri Hill, is the largest stone carving in all of Nepal. This particular statue of Lord Vishnu is taken as the most relaxed avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Kathmandu is the capital and largest municipality of Nepal. The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 m in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal. It is surrounded by four major hills: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. The city has a rich history, spanning nearly 2000 years, as inferred from inscriptions found in the valley. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu.
Kirtipur is an ancient city in Nepal. It is located in the Kathmandu Valley 5 km south-west of the city of Kathmandu. In 1767, Kirtipur was annexed to the Gorkhali Kingdom by Prithvi Narayan following the Battle of Kirtipur.
Patan, officially Lalitpur, is one of the major cities of Nepal located in the south-central part of Kathmandu Valley. Patan is also known as Manigal. It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue.
The Pashupatinath Temple is a famous sacred Hindu temple, dedicated to Pashupati (an incarnation of the Hindu Lord Shiva as “Lord of animals”). Pashupatinath is located on the banks of the Bagmati River 5 km north-east of Kathmandu Valley in the eastern city of Kathmandu. This temple is considered one of the sacred temples of Hindu faith. The temple serves as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath. One of the major Festivals of the temple is Maha Shivaratri on which day over 700,000 devotees visit here.
Swayambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. It is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. The Tibetan name for the site means “Sublime Trees”, for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. For the Buddhist Newars, Swayambhunath occupies a central position and is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudhanath.