Boudhanath epitomizes Tibetan Buddhism. It lies 8 kms East of Kathmandu and was built by Licchavis King Man Dev in the 5th century A. D. Its colossal and ancient stupa is regarded as one of the world’s biggest stupa and has been built on a stepped octagonal base and inset with alcoves representing Buddha and his teachings. After Chinese invasion in 1959, Tibetans in thousands came to this famous Buddhist Chaitya and energized the stupa. The stupa is surrounded by various temples or 'gompas'. The atmosphere of the whole place lightens up with zest as fragrance of incense drifts through the air. Chanting of monks and creaking of prayer wheels can be heard while strolling around the base. It is one of the prime sites for pilgrims and tourists in the country.
It is 3kms away from the West of Kathmandu. Ancient tale has it that thousands of years ago Swayambhunath was an island. Later a stupa was built. King Manadeva contributed in the making of the stupa in 460. After the invasions from Mughal, it was distorted and had to undergo renovation in the 14th century. King Pratap Malla in 17th century further enhanced the architecture and also added a stairway to get to the stupa. At present, the stupa is a solid hemisphere of brick and clay, supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt and has Lord Buddha’s eyes adorned on all the four sides of the spire base. Buddhists regard it as the holiest place. Swayambhunath also offers a majestic view of the entire Kathmandu valley.
Shiva and is the holiest place for Hindus. The sacred temple lies on the banks of sacred Bagmati River 5 kms east of Kathmandu city. Non-Hindus are strictly prohibited from entering the temple. It has two-tiered roof and four silver doors. Devotees from all over the world come here to pay their homage to lord Shiva.
Unique among natural heritage sites world-wide is the Sagarmatha
National Park, which includes Mt. Everest (8,848 m) and other high
peaks such as Lhotse Shar, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Kangtega,
Gyachung Kang, Thamserku and Kwangde. Located North-east of Kathmandu,
Sagarmatha National Park is 1,148 sq km. in area and consists of the
upper catchment areas of the Dudh Koshi, Bhote Koshi and the Imja Khola
rivers. Much of the park lies above 3,000m. Sagarmatha is rugged, with
deep gorges, glaciers and unnegotiable ice and rock faces. Locally
known as the 'Khumbu', it is the home of the famous Sherpa people. The
Sherpas make a living by farming barley and potatoes and graze their
yaks in high altitude pastures. Young Sherpas have also made their name
in mountaineering and the trekking industry has of late become the
community's economic mainstay. In 1979 the park was declared a World
Trees such as rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000 meters above which they give way to scrub and alpine plants. In late spring and summer, the hillsides around the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Thyangboche and Thame are a riot of colours with several species of rhododendon in bloom. Wildlife most likely to be seen in Sagarmatha are the Himalaya tahr, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel and occasionally jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard. Birds commonly seen are Impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, snow cock, snow pigeon, red billed and yellow billed chough, Himalayan griffin vulture and lammergeier.
Nepal's first and most famous national park is situated in the Chitwan Doon or the lowlands of the Inner Terai. Covering an area of 932 sq km. the park includes hilly areas of the Siwalik Range covered by deciduous sal forest. One fifth of the park is made up of the floodplains of the Narayani, Rapti, and the Reu Rivers and is covered by dense tall elephant grass interspersed with riverine forests of silk cotton (kapok), acacia and sisam trees. This ecologically diverse area is the last remaining home in Nepal for more than 300 of the endangered Asian one-horned rhinoceros and harbours one of the largest populations of the elusive and rare Royal Bengal tiger. Besides rhino and tiger, Chitwan also supports a great variety of flora and fauna. There are four species of deer, including the spotted chittal, leopard, sloth bear, wild boar, rhesus monkey, grey langur monkey, wild dog, small wild cats, the white stockinged gaur (the world's largest wild cattle) and many other smaller animals. The swampy areas and numerous oxbow lakes of Chitwan provide a home for marsh crocodiles. In a stretch of the Narayani river is found one of the few remaining populations of the rare and endangered fish-only eating gharial, or Gangetic crocodile. Here also is found one of the world's four species of freshwater dolphins. For the ornithologist and the amateur bird-watcher the park offers excellent possibilities with more than 450 species recorded. Some of the resident specialities are several species of woodpeckers, hornbills, Bengal florican, and red-headed trogons. Winter birds such as waterfowl, Brahminy duck, pintails and bareheaded geese, amongst many other cold weather visitors are drawn by the sanctuary of the park's rivers. In the summer the forest is alive with nesting migrants such as the fabulous paradise flycatcher, the Indian pitta and parakeets
Shakyamuni Buddha was born in Lumbini, in southern Nepal,
twenty-five hundred years ago. Since his time, Nepal has been a sacred
ground for Buddhists as the birthplace of the Buddha. Lumbini is a
small town in the southern Terai plains of Nepal, where the ruins of
the old city can still be seen. Shakyamuni Buddha was born to a royal
Lumbini has been a holy ground for Buddhists all over the world. The restored garden and surroundings of Lumbini have the remains of many of the ancient stupas and monasteries. A large stone pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC bears an inscription about the birth of the Buddha.
An important part of Lumbini is the temple of Maya Devi. It has a stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch. It has been well worn by the strokes of barren women hoping for fertility. To the south of the temple is a pool where Queen Maya Devi is said to have bathed and given her son his first purification bath.
A quiet garden, shaded by the leafy Bo tree (the type of tree under which Buddha received enlightenment), and a newly-planted forest nearby lend an air of tranquillity which bespeaks Buddha's teachings. Lumbini is now being developed under the Master Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust, a non governmental organization dedicated to the restoration of Lumbini and its development as a pilgrimage site. The plan, completed in 1978 by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, will transform three square miles of land into a sacred place of gardens, pools, buildings, and groves. The development will include a Monastic Zone, the circular sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka pillar and Maya Devi temple, and Lumbini Village, where visitors will find lodges, restaurants, a cultural center and tourist facilities.
An important archeological site near Lumbini, Kapilvastu evokes the ancient palace where Lord Buddha spent his formative years. Scattered foundations of the palace are abundant, and archeologists have by now discovered 13 successive layers of human habitation dating back to the eighth century BC. A must for archeological and historical buffs!
Besides its religious and historical significance, Lumbini offers cultural insights into the village life of southern Nepal. If possible, try to coincide your visit with the weekly Monday bazaar when villagers come from miles around to buy grains, spices, pottery, jewellery, saris and various other items. It may appear as a scene out of the Arabian Nights, with colorful merchandise spread out under the mango trees and the air perfumed with incense. It's a chance to bargain for souvenirs while witnessing local life in Lumbini. Wooden ox-carts loaded with hay trundle by. Villagers dry cow-dung for fuel, and tea stalls serve sweet milk tea.
Today, Lumbini is beginning to receive travellers' and archaeologists' attention after centuries of neglect. Serious preservation work has only just been started in the latter half of this century and Lumbini as a slice of history is worth seeing and worth preserving.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly uncountable monuments
in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. The house of the Living Goddess (
Kumari Ghar ), the ferocious Kal Bhairab, the red monkey god, and
hundreds of erotic carvings are a few examples of the sights at the
Square! The buildings here are the greatest achievements of the Malla
dynasty, and they resulted from the great rivalry between the three
palaces of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. The Valley was divided
among the children of Yaksya Malla. For visitors today, and for the
Nepalese, it was serendipitous that they, and later their offsprings,
began an artistic warfare trying to outdo each other in splendid
constructions. Kings copied everything their neighbours built in an
even grander style. A visitor who wanders around the Square will see a
round temple in the pagoda architectural style, the temple of Goddess
Taleju (legend has it that She played dice with King Jaya Prakash
Malla), and an image of Shiva and Parbati sitting together among the
The Square teems with colorful life. Vendors sell vegetables, curios, flutes, and other crafts around the Kastamandap rest house. This rest house is said to have been built with the wood of a single tree and is the source from which the Kathmandu Valley got its name. Nearby are great drums which were beaten to announce royal decrees. All woodcarvings, statues, and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine, and Kathmandu Durbar Square is among the most important sights for travellers to see. The complex also houses the Tribhuvan Museum that carries the mementoes of different Shah Kings.
The Patan Durbar Square is a cluster of marvelous monuments within a limited space. Besides the old royal Palace, which is ful of old royal palace, which is full of grace and grandeur, there is the 17th century Krishna Mandir, entirely made of stone in unique Shikhara-style structure with 21 pinnacles. The marvelous Tusha Hiti, Sundari Chowk, Taleju Temple, the Keshav Narayan Chowk are the other landmarks within the square. The Hiranya Varna Maha Vihar (Golden Temple), Rudra Varna Maha Vihar and the terra cotta Shikhara temple of Maha Bouddha are the consummate masterpieces in the vicinity
Situated at an altitude of 1,401 m, Bhaktapur covers an area of four square miles. Bhaktapur or "the City of Devotees" still retains the medieval charm and visitors to this ancient town are treated with myriad wonders of cultural and artistic achievements. The past glory of the Malla rulers continue to be reflected at the Durbar Square. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. The city lies about 14 km east of Kathmandu.
Narayan, or Vishnu, is the preserver of creation to Hindus. His
temple near Changu village is often described as the most ancient
temple in the Kathmandu Valley. A fifth century stone inscription, the
oldest to be discovered in Nepal, is located in the temple compound and
it tells of the victorious King Mandev. The temple now covers sixteen
hundred years of Nepalese art history. The temple, built around the
third century, is decorated by some of the best samples of stone, wood,
and metal craft in the Valley. In the words of one tourist guide, "When
you look upon Changu Narayan, you observe the complete cultural
development of the Valley."
On the struts of the two-tiered Changu Narayan Temple, are the ten incarnations in which Narayan destroyed evil-doers. A sixth-century stone statue shows the cosmic form of Vishnu, while another statue recalls his dwarf incarnation when he crushed the evil king Bali. Vishnu as Narsingha disemboweling a demon is particularly stunning. The western bronze doors sparkle in the evening sunlight, dragons decorate the bells, and handsome devas stare from the walls. Garuda, half man and half bird, is the steed of Vishnu, and his life-sized statue kneels before the temple. The favourite of many tourists is the statue of Vishnu sitting astride his steed.