One of the most spectacular cities in the world, Kathmandu is the capital and largest city of Nepal. It is renowned for its spectacular natural beauty, access to the Himalayas and major historical and cultural significance. It is particularly notable as a major pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and Hindus.
One of the most iconic symbols of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath is a short distance away from the city on top of a hill in the Kathmandu Valley. Literally translated to ‘Sublime Trees’, Swayamabhutanh is the most sacred pilgrimage site in Buddhism, especially significant to Tibetan Buddhists. A temple complex, it dates back to the beginning of the 5th Century and is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal.
The region’s most significant Hindu temple, Pashupatinath is one of the most significant in the world. Dedicated to the national deity Lord Pushupatinath, it is known for its immense size. It consists of 492 separate temples. Built during the 15th Century, the temple complex is a major pilgrimage and tourism site in Nepal, located a short drive from the city centre. It is hugely culturally significant, as the hub of a number of Hindu festivals, including Haha Shivarati, which draws over 1 million visitors.
Garden of Dreams
One of the more incongruous sites in Kathmandu, the Garden of Dreams was built in 1920, inspired by the English style of gardens at the time. For much of the 20th Century, it was one of the most serene and beautiful places in the city, before falling into disuse in the 1960’s following the demise of its patron Kaiser Sumsher Rana. In recent years, the garden has been restored to its former glory and it remains one of the city’s most significant landmarks in the present day.
The heart of Kathmandu’s tourism industry, Thamel is the city’s main market neighbourhood. It rose to international prominence during the 1960’s when it became increasingly popular amongst travelling hippies. While it is far from the most authentic example of Nepalese culture (due to attempts to attract tourists), Thamel is a singular place, which offers a number of essential services to travellers while providing an insight into its tourism heyday of the mid-20th Century.
The centre-piece of Kathmandu’s ancient old city, Durbar Square was the former residency of the Royal family. It is known for its wealth of historic buildings from a number of different periods. It is home to both Buddhist and Hindu temples, reflecting the religious diversity of the city. While many of the buildings were destroyed in a tragic earthquake in 2015, it still remains an essential destination for visitors to the city.