Kathmandu is an intoxicating, exhilarating city. Traffic buzzes around the narrow winding streets next to rickshaws, rice and chili are laid out to dry in courtyards, ancient temples are strung with bright orange marigolds and workshops reminiscent of the Middle Ages still line the back streets. The Nepalese capital has been a mecca for travelers for decades, and it is easy to see why. Upon arrival, prepare to be amazed.
Throw yourself into the heart of the city at Asan Tole, a six-road junction crammed with shoppers and sellers. The popular marketplace is inundated with fresh produce each morning and the three-story Annapurna Temple towers above the stalls. Dedicated to the goddess of abundance, the temple is visited by locals throughout the day who touch coins to their heads before tossing them into the temple and ringing a bell. A smaller two-story shrine to Ganesh sits next door, and to the south is the Yita Chapel. The rest of the square is outlined by spice shops and cafes. In one, Cat Stevens penned his song “Kathmandu.”
The most famous street in the city, Freak Street, rush south from Basantapur Square and has drawn crowds of hippies and travelers since the 1960s. Today, the sweet smell of incense fills the air, shops sell the keys to enlightenment, children run by with fluttering prayer wheels and restaurants sell some of the best food in the city.
One of the most fascinating sights in Kathmandu is the Hanuman Dhoka, a palace complex that stems from the 4th to 8th centuries. 35 courtyards were originally housed there, but a 1934 earthquake destroyed all but ten. The most famous is the Nasal Chowk, built during the Malla period and used for coronations even today. Visitors walk into the rectangular courtyard through a beautifully carved doorway, then are greeted by a large statue of Vishnu incarnated as a man-lion. A statue of Shiva dominates the eastern corner of the square. From the courtyard, visitors can explore the Malla kings’ Audience Chamber, where images of the present royal family are displayed.
West of Nasal Chowk is the Tribhuvan Museum, built during the mid-19th century. The museum is dedicated to King Tribhuvan and his revolt against the Ranas. The kings’ study and bedroom are recreated with his personal effects and magnificent thrones. The second half of the museum focuses on King Mahendra and the assassination of King Birendra in 2001. The nine-story Basantapur Tower is also part of the museum, offering amazing views of the capital.
Other sights worth exploring in Kathmandu include the Nara Devi Temple, the Bhagwati Temple, the golden Ashok Binayak temple to Ganesh, the Kathesimbhu Stupa, the colorful Jaisi Deval Temple, the Ram Chandra Temple, the Ethnographic Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Mahendreshwar Temple the white neoclassical Gaddi Baithak building, the Lohan Chowk, the Great Bell along Makhan Tole and the Bhimsen Tower. If you still have not had your fill of inspiring and beautiful temples, visit the Degutaleju Temple, the small Mahakala Temple on New Road, the beautifully carved Tana Deval Temple and the domed Kotilingeshwar Mahadev Temple.
Kathmandu Geographical Location
Kathmandu is located in the central southeast of Nepal in the Kathmandu Valley.
Kathmandu is the largest city in Nepal with just under 1 million inhabitants.
Nepali is the official language of Nepal while many in government and business speak English as a second language.
Kathmandu Predominant Religion
- 80.5% Hindu
- 11% Buddhist
- 4% Muslim
- 3.5% Kirant
- 1% Other
Nepal’s official religion was Hindu up until 2006 when it was declared a secular state. Religion is deeply imbedded in the Nepalese culture.
The Nepalese Rupee is the official currency of Nepal.
It is usually pleasant throughout the year in Kathmandu with warm summers and mild winters. The rainy season occurs during the summer months while the rest of the year experiences very little rain.
Kathmandu Main Attractions
- Garden of Dreams
Other Attraction in Kathmandu
- Nasal Chowk Statues
- Narayanhiti Palace Museum
- Durbar Square