Kathmandu is the gateway to the Nepal’s Himalayan range and thus serves as an important tourist destination
Snuggled up cozily among the gigantic mountains of the Himalayan range is the quintessential ‘Kathmandu Valley’ that speaks of nature’s glory alongside rapid urbanization!
Within the Valley lies a city with the same name, the Kathmandu City, powered by a rich cultural and historical background.
Kathmandu City – History and Geography
The inception of Kathmandu dates back to the ancient times and is older than 185 A.D.
The metropolis got its name from a temple known as Kasthamandap built in 1596 at the Durbar Square.As per legends and the contents of the Swayambhu Purana, Kathmandu was once a huge, deep lake filled with snakes and was called ‘Nagdaha’.
Bodhisathwa Manjusri traveled to Nepal from the west and cut the rim of the valley with his sword to release the water from it, resulting in the formation of the ‘Kathmandu’ we know today.
Going forward, the city of Kathmandu experienced two golden ancient eras Licchavi & Malla before touching the modern era which includes the Early Shah and Rana rules.
During the Licchavi period, Kathmandu witnessed the establishment of the most ancient sacred sites for both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Kathmandu is the center of Nepal’s history, art, culture & economy hosting people from different ethnicities with a majority of Hindus and Buddhists. As the largest metropolitan in Nepal, Kathmandu city has a population of over 5 million and is made up of Lalitpur, Kirtipur, Madhyapur, Thimi, Bhaktapur, and a cluster of municipalities across the valley.
Kathmandu is part of Nepal Province 3 and also has international recognition as the SAARC headquarters since 1985.
Kathmandu experiences a mix of two temperature zones: Warm and Cool Temperate Zones which differs across the city. The metropolis generally has a climate with warm days followed by cool nights and mornings.
Tourism and Some Interesting Places
Nepal opened to the world in 1950 after its long isolation. Following this, air transport was started between Kathmandu and Raxaul in 1956 paving the way for tourism in the city.
Kathmandu is the gateway to Nepal’s Himalayan range and thus, serves as an important tourist destination. World’s renowned travel advisor Trip Advisor placed Kathmandu at ‘third’ among the top ten upcoming travel destinations in the world and first rank in Asia, in its 2013 ranking.
Kathmandu has some iconic sites and structures that draw innumerable tourists from around the world. Unfortunately, the 2015 earthquake shook Nepal and robbed Kathmandu of most of its remarkable heritage sites.
Here are some of the iconic places that add to the city’s charm:
Situated at the junction of Durbar and Basantapur squares, this three-storey structure was built by Jaya Prakash Malla in 1757. Styled like a Buddhist Vihara, the building has courtyard and a small stupa with symbols of Goddess Saraswati. This historic site houses the Kumari, a girl selected to be the country’s living goddess and a symbol of Devi.
This Buddhist stupa is one of the classics of Kathmandu Valley’s architecture. The perfectly-proportioned Swayambhunath rises out of a white dome to from a glided steeple from where, four iconic faces of Buddha look at the entire valley in their respective directions.
Kathmandu’s Durbar square dates back to the Licchavi period in the third century and is a reflection of Newar artists and craftsmen’s hardwork over centuries. The famous ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah preferred this architectural beauty as his palace over other monuments.
Kathmandu’s royal palace or Hanuman Dhoka was also constructed during the Licchavi period. The palace is a masterpiece and still maintains a charming beauty even after witnessing the devastating effects of the April 2015 earthquake. The place is a fond remembrance of the epic Ramayana and has a Hanuman statue cloaked in red and covered by an umbrella.
Garden of Dreams:
Also known as Swapna Bagaicha, this splendid enclave takes you to a different place in your mind. Built by Field Marshal Kaiser Shamsher in 1920, the Garden of Dreams was made after taking inspiration from several estates in England. It is characterized by innumerable gorgeous detailing, including a marble inscription from Omar Khan’s Rubaiyat and a quirky ‘hidden garden’ to the south.
Situated southwest of the Asar Tole in Kathmandu, this temple is a place of worship for both Buddhists and Hindus. It was built in devotion to Lord Avalokiteshvara and has a white image of the deity. The courtyard hosts a lot of miniature shrines, small stupas and statues.
A famous street in Kathmandu, Freak Street earned its name due to a large number of hippies who lived here during the 1960s and 70s. The main attraction of this street was its government-run hashish shops.
This six-spoked junction is cramped with vegetable and spice vendors from morning till evening. You can find items like yak tails and dried fish at this crowded market. Thanks to the Goddess of Abundance seated in the Annapurna temple within the vicinity, this place never runs out on its continuous supply of goods!
Thamel in Kathmandu is known as the Shopping Mecca in Nepal. It has a plenty of bookstores, outdoor outfitters, banks and shops selling glass pipes, Tibetan Singing bowls, incense, prayer flags, kukri swords and innumerable eaeries.
Top 13 Specialties about Kathmandu
People in Kathmandu greet each other with a handshake. They touch their palms and bow saying ‘Namaste’, which means ‘I salute the God in you’
Once upon a time, Kathmandu was known as ‘Kantipur’, which means the ‘City of Glory’. The name was inspired by the many monasteries and temples in the city
Kathmandu is the gateway to the Himalayas. Landing in Kathmandu increases your access to explore the rest of the country.
In ancient times, Kathmandu Valley was a huge lake filled with floating lotuses.
Kathmandu Valley is home to the Newari community of Nepal, which is considered as the direct descendant of the ethnic and racial groups who resided for two millenniums in the valley
Kathmandu Valley was honored as the ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO in 1979. Prior to the 2015 earthquake, Kathmandu Valley had 130 important monuments and pilgrimage sites.
Kathmandu was a part of the link that connected India and Tibet. This gave birth to a mix of artists, architecture and traditions in Kathmandu leading to the creation of some masterpieces
Owing to its scenic beauty, Kathmandu is chosen as the backdrop for many movies and TV series.
There are three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square, all of which are interestingly UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage Sites’.
In 1975, Bob Seger wanted to escape the world of record business and media and so he wrote a song called Kathmandu. This song represented Kathmandu’s mystic nature- “a land so far away that no one will be able to find you”.
Due to its 4593 M-elevation above sea level, Kathmandu stands 17th in the world ranking for ‘capitals with highest altitude’
Kathmandu is sister-city to Mumbai Miami, Johannesburg, Edinburgh and many more, owing to its socio-economic relationship with these cities
Nepal’s oldest modern school Durbar High School and the oldest college Tri Chandra College are from Kathmandu
Kathmandu in News
India-Nepal Bilateral Talks: Kathmandu city hosted the recent Sixth India-Nepal Oversight Mechanism Meet, which discussed the issues of all pending bilateral projects and looked at solutions to overcome them.
Urbanization Concerns in Kathmandu: Rapid urbanization is shifting attention to concerns over building constructions in accordance with compliance, the disappearance of chowks promoting social interaction, improper road construction and more in this city.
Raxaul-Kathmandu Rail Project: Nepal and India decided to sign an agreement to conduct initial engineering and traffic survey for the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line. The two neighboring countries had come to make the decision during Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli Sharma’s visit to India, recently.
4th BIMSTEC Summit: Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that the 4th BIMSTEC summit will be held in Kathmandu on August 30, 2018. “It is an important regional gathering in Kathmandu after the promulgation of the new Nepalese Constitution and formation of the new government in the Himalayan nation. The government attaches high importance to the summit, for which we have formed several committees,” says Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali
Yogi Adityanath Flags Off Air Services: Ending June 2018, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi flagged off air service between Varanasi and Kathmandu from Lal Bahadur International Airport at Babatpur. Nepal airlines operator Buddha Air Pvt. Ltd. will be operating flights between the two cities.
5th Kathmandu Post Edu Con: Kathmandu city hosted the fifth edition of the most prestigious education fair ‘The Kathmandu Post Edu Con’ on July 7, 2018. Over 100 Nepali and international academic institutions exhibited their programs and courses at the event. Students also received career guidance during the fair.
Malaysia Education Fair 2018: Kathmandu city hosted the two-day Malaysia Education Fair between July 20-21, 2018. During the event, experienced Malaysian career counsellors and representatives provided career counselling to students and parents
13th South Asian Games: Kathmandu along with Pokhara has been chosen as the venue for the 13th South Asian Games. Cricket will be added to the list of games in this tournament that will be played at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu.
12th Mega Education Fair: The Education Consultancies’ Association of Nepal (ECAN) organized the 12th Mega Education Fair from July 19-22, 2018. ECAN President Bishnuhari Pandey told media that the fair was being organized for provisioning information and advice regarding pursuing education abroad. The fair had over 100 stalls that provided visitors with education policies of various countries.
9th EPG Meeting On India-Nepal Relations: The most prestigious meeting Eminent Persons Group was held in Kathmandu on June 30, 2018. This meeting discussed India-Nepal bilateral issues including the 1950 Peace & Friendship Treaty and other issues related to trade, transit and border during the two-day meeting. The EPG is a collaboration of experts and intellectuals from both countries.
Despite the challenging the earthquake that rocked its very foundations, Kathmandu manages to attract tourists with remnants of its heritage and a sense of warmth that will always linger in their hearts.
The capital city of Nepal with all its grandeur and activity will always surprise its visitors while also keeping them in touch with nature.
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