Sightseeing Tour in Nepal
Nepal has been a dreamland of the tourists since a long. Nepal invites, welcomes, and bewilders the visitors. Those who have already visited Nepal cherish the desire for the second visit and those who have heard or read about the kingdom make a plan to visit Nepal.
Geographically, Nepal is small country but she shines like a multi gem in her diversity. She is holy, she is wonderful, she is gracious, she is strange, she is wild and she is beautiful. The small geographical territory encapsulates the most diverse of geo-topographical, biological and Socio-ethnic varieties. In this country there stands the majestic Mt. Everest, fertile land of the Terai sprawls luxuriously, deep George’s and fountains spring up form treasure house of the earth; swift and roaring rivers tumble down directly from the Himalayas, many rare and beautiful species of plants and animal find safe and favorable shelter in the land, the altitude of which varies between 70 meters to 8848 meters. More importantly, more than 65 ethnic groups speaking more than 45 languages present a unique example of the harmony in the diversity. In short, people with different sets of interest and different temperament find many things as their interest in the smallest possible territory.
A few highlighted places not to be missed with in the kingdom are as follows
The Katmandu valley is the hub of Nepal for its’ political, commercial and cultural activities and is the first stop for the majority of the visitors to the country. Once separate kingdom in itself, it consists of three cities of the great history. Every one has an artistic exposition of graceful temple, elegant palace, brick-paved courtyards and quaint streets.
The history begins with the Buddhist saint Manjushree who slashed a passage through the surrounding hills to drain out primordial water and made it habitable. Over the centuries, a refined urban civilization emerged, built on a unique synthesis of Hinduism and Buddhism. Dynasties came and went trade and the arts flourished. It’s deeply religious Newars’ inhabitants built fabulous cities and artistic temples that attracted devout pilgrims as well as ramping invaders. In the date late 18th century, following the founding of modern Nepal with in more or less the present boundaries, Kathmandu was made the capital. It is said that ‘Katmandu’ was named after Kastamandap an imposing pagoda next to Hanumandhoka palace. The city is said to built in it’s present form by Gunakama Dev 724 AD. Followings are the major tourist attractions in the Katmandu Valley.
This complex of palaces, courtyards, and temples are built on 12th to 18th centuries used to be the seat of the ancient Malla kings of Kathmandu. An intriguing piece here is the 17th century stone inscription set in to the wall of the palace with writing in15 languages. The Durbar Square protected as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the social, religious and urban focal point of the city. There are three museums inside the palace building.
Three kilometer west of Kathmandu city complex locates the one of the worlds most glorious Buddhist Stupas, it is said to be 2000 years old. Visitors often call it "Monkey Temple". The main structure brick and clay which supports a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. There are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha on the four sides of spire. Being situated seventy meter above the level of valley, the hill of Shwoyambhunath is a mosaic of small Stupas and pagoda temples. Aside, in front of the temple, one of the famous goddess with the shrine of Ajima called "Harati Mata" is there. This temple of goddess believes to be famous in the way of tantric. Both the stupa of Lord Buddha and temple of a goddess are surrounded by other temples and Tibetan monasteries. Being located in the top level of valley, this place is famous for visitors for sightseeing.
Pashupatinath is considered one of the holiest shrines of all the Hindu temples. The temple has remained the presiding deity of ruling Nepalese Royalty. Located on the banks of the Bagmati river, this two-tiered magnificent golden temple with four triple silver doorways is unique example of the Nepalese temple architecture. It is one of the largest Hindu temple complex in' South Asia with hundreds of Shiva lingams, shrines icons of various Hindu god and goddess insides. This temple site occupies an area of 281 hectors in total. The main entrance of this temple is in the western side facing a small street of Deopatan market. As non-Hindus are not allowed to enter this temple ourtyard. They are advised to go on the other side of the river in the East to have a glimpse of the temple complex. In the middle of the spring (Feb. March) every year there occurs a festival called Shivaratri. The world Shivaratri means the holy night of Lord Shiva. On this day many devotees visit the Pashupati Nath temple and make the ceremonial fire. Most of the devotees spend the night offering prayers to Shiva. This festival attracts tens of thousand of pilgrims from India besides the locals. Historically pre-Chistian era this temple seems to have its origin away back to the early Kirat period. Stone sculptures found in the vicinity support the antiquity of this place. This holy site is 6 km. east oil down town Kathmandu. Regular bus and taxi services are easily available from a city points.
One of the world’s largest Stupa, Bouddha is generally acknowledged to be the most important Tibetan Buddhist monument outside Tibet. Tibetans simply call it CHORTEN CHEMPO "Great Stupa". It has now become the Mecca of Tibetan exiles in Nepal. Walking around Bouddhnath one often fins men wearing long braids wrapped around their heads. Many of these pilgrims carry their own prayer wheels, which they spin incessantly.
Patan Durbar Square is situated in the heart of the city, the main tourist attraction. The Square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines noted for their exquisite carvings. One can rummage for treasures and souvenirs in the various shops around the Square. The main attraction of Patan Durbar Square is the ancient Royal Palace itself. It consists three main courtyards such as Mul chowks, Sundari chowks and Keshab Narayan chowks. In the northeastern corner of the courtyard is a triple roofed octagonal tower, Taleju Bhawani Temple built by King Shree Niwash Malla in 1667. Degu Taleju is in between Mul Chowks and Keshav Naarayan Chowks
Built by Siddhi Narshing Malla in 17th century. The temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in the palace complex of Patan. It is the only temple Nepal to have 21 shrines and completely made of stone. Most of the important scenes from the ancient Hindu epics the Ramayana and Mahabharat have been engraved on it’s friezes.
A little further from Patan Durbar Square lies this Buddhist temple made of bricks in which thousands of image of Lord Buddha are engraved. The Terracotta structure is a 14th century Nepalese architectural masterpiece. An architect named Avay Raj constructed it.
Jawalakhel Handicraft Center:
This carpet factory is managed by the Tibetan Refugee and is a place where one can see the entire process of spinning, dying and weaving Tibetan design wool carpets. The center also has a well-shocked show room for carpet purchasing.
Patan industrial estate:
It is in Lagankhel and is known as Nepali handicrafts such as wood - carving, metal craft, carpets and Thanka paintings. It is very interesting to see how these goods are made in the different workshop. For the visitors’ convenience, there is a shopping arcade with in the premises of the industrial estate.
Accheshwor who built a temple to house an idol of Lord Buddha established this temple towards the beginning of the seventeenth century. The Mahavihar has recently been reconstructed. It has 30 rooms including a monastery, "Dhyankuti" research area, training area, library, review rooms, and guest rooms. Situated behind the Ashokan Stupa at Pulchowk, the Mahavihar commands a beautiful view of the Kathmandu Valley.
Temples of Machchhindra Nath and Min Nath:
The pagoda of Red Machchhendra Nath, also known as Avalokiteshwor and Adinath Lokeshwor, is housed here for six months each year. For the remaining six months, the idol is taken to its shrine in Bungmati. The temple of Min Nath is situated in Tentgal, on the way to Tabahal. The temple of Min Nath is thought to be older than the temple of Red Machchhendra Nath.
Bhaktapur, situated at an altitude of 1401 meters, is a home of medieval art and architecture. The urban city covers an area of 4 square miles. Shaped like a conch shell, Bhaktapur means "the city of devotees". Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. The city lies about 14 kilometers east of Kathmandu and can be reached by car or any other public transport.
The major sightseeing places in Bhaktapur are:
Kumbheshwor temple in Patan and Nyatapol temple in Bhaktapur are the only five- storied temples in the Valley, with the exception of the round five-tiered Pancha Mukhi Hanuman of Katmandu’s Hanuman Dhoka Palace. This temple for Lord Shiva was expanded during the reign of King Jayasthiti Malla but originally constructed in 1392. A fair is held here on the Janal Purnima day in August.
Jagat Narayan Temple:
This is a tall imposing temple of Lord Vishnu in red brick. Situated on the bank of the Bagmati River, the temple has many fine images of stone and an artistic metal statue of Garuda on a stone pillar.
Rudra Varna Mahavihar:
This unique Buddhist monastery contains a collection of images and statues in metal, stone, and wood. In ancient times, kings were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by kings' devotees could be seen here even today.
The Ashokan Stupa:
There are four ancient Stupas, popularly believed to have been built in 250 B. C. by Emperor Ashokan, at the Four Corners of Patan. The four Stupas are located in Pulchowk, Lagankhel, Ebahi (way to Shankhamul), and in Teat (way to Sano Gaon) respectively. This stupa gives evidence to the city's ancient religious importance.
The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like: the Lion Gate, a Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, a Picture Gallery, the Golden Gate, the Palace of 55 Windows, the Batsala Temple, the Bell of Barking Dogs, and a replica of Pashupatinath Temple.
The Lion Gate, which was built during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla, is adorned with stone figures of Hanuman, Ghairav, and Narasingh Narayan. A statue of the Malla King in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace. Of the many statues in Nepal, this is considered to be the most magnificent.
The Picture Gallery contains ancient paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools of Tantrism of various periods and descriptions.
The Golden Gate is the entrance to the main courtyard and the Palace of 55 Windows. It was built by King Ranjit Malla and is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind showing the Goddess Kali and Garuda, the winged carrier of Lord Vishnu. This gate is embellished with monsters of marvelous intricacy.
King Bhupatindra Malla built the Palace of 55 Windows in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls, with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 windows. This balcony is a masterpiece of woodcarving.
The stone temple of Batsala Devi, which is also located in the Durbar Square, is full of intricate carvings. This temple also shows a beautiful example of Shikhara style architecture in Nepal. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple that is also known as the "bell of barking dogs." When it peals, the local dogs start barking. This bell, placed in 1737 A.D. by King Ranjit Malla, was used to sound curfew during his reign. The bell is rung every morning while worshipping the Goddess Taleju.
King Bhupatindra Malla built this five-story pagoda in 1702 A.D.. It stands on a five story terraced platform. On each of the terraces squat pairs of figures: two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins, and Baghini and Singhini, the tiger and the lion goddesses. Each pair of figures is considered ten times stronger than the ones immediately below, while the lowest pair, the two strong men, Jaya Malla and Phatta Malla, was reputedly ten times stronger than any other men. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structure and subtle workmanship. The temple was built for Goddess Laxmi.
This temple was first built as a one-story pagoda during the reign of King Jagat Jyoti Malla, and later changed into a three-story temple in 1718 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. The temple is noted for its artistic grandeur. It is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the god of Terror.
This is a shrine of Ganesh, the elephant-headed God, situated in the beautiful surroundings of Bhadgaun, placed in a sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. The view of the city of Bhaktapur is seen from here with snow-capped peaks in the background. Nestled in a thick forest, it is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes. It is easily accessible by trolley bus.
Located at the end of a long ridge, which runs well into the Valley, this temple is said to have been build in 323 AD by King Hari Dutta Varma. The temple is richly decorated with sculptures and carvings. It is said to be the oldest temple in the Valley. Situated about 153 meters above the level of Kathmandu Valley, it affords a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. An all-weather motorable road connects it with Bhaktapur City.
Dhulikhel is a much larger town than Nagarkot and is situated at an altitude of 5,500 Ft above Sea level, 30 Kms east of Kathmandu on the Kodari Highway. The city offers a complete panoramic view of the snow-capped ranges from Karyolung in the east to Himalchuli in the west. The view however is not as good as that from Nagarkot, one can see for 130 miles. It is a magnificent place to spend the night and awaken to the sun rising across the wide Himalayan range. Once an important link in the ancient trade route to Tibet, Dhulikhel has a glorious past that can be witnessed in the lovely building and intricate woodcarving found among the shop lone streets and in the temples.
Like Nagarkot, the city offers numerous interesting day hikes. These provide the tourists an opportunity to see the Nepali countryside away from the roads and also giving a taste of trekking. The easiest is the hike to Namoboudda and back.
Kakani 1982 meters above sea level and located 29 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu City is famous for its magnificent view of the Valley. It overlooks the northwestern Himalayan ranges set against the vastness of the blue sky. The holiday area of Kakani features attractions ranging from beautiful alpine scenery to the magnificent Himalayan panorama, particularly of the Ganesh Himal. Other peaks that can be seen from Kakani are Gaurishankar (7,134 m), Choba Bhamre (6,016 m) and several other peaks. One should not miss the majestic sunset that Kakani offers.
A trip to Kakani along the mountain highway, Trisuli Road, is rewarding with views of green forests on one side and terraced cultivation on the other. The road to Kakani begins at Balaju and terminates at Kaule where the road to Kakani bifurcates. The vehicles can go right up to the top of Kakani. It takes about one and half-hours to reach Kakani by car from Kathmandu.
The Pokhara valley, the most picturesque spot of Nepal, is enhanced by its lovely lake Few, Begnas and Rupa, and Caves, River gorges and Monasteries. Situated 200 km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 827m. is connected by air as well or by bus from Kathmandu is the starting and or ending point for some of the popular treks including the Annapurna Circuit and the Jomsom Trek. Pokhara offers the magnificent views of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Fishtail, Five Peaks of Annapurna and others. It also offers a number of short treks for those who cannot opt for long and challenging ones. The most popular among them is Sarangkot (1592 m), a former Kaski fort lying atop a hill five km west of the old bazaar.
Tansen is a Himalayan town located on the slopes of a hill called Shreenagar hill at an altitude of 1343 meters above sea level. Tansen is the most popular summer resort in western Nepal on account of its position and climate. It has perhaps Nepal's most far stretching views of the country's chief attraction -- the Himalayas -- from Dhaulagiri in the west to Gaurishanker in the northeast. From Shreenagar Danda, one has a view of the Tinau river valley below and the surrounding Churia and Mahabharat hills, including the Terai's flat lands to the far south. Tansen is the headquarter of Palpa District. Tansen is easily accessible. It takes just six hours by bus from Pokhara to reach Tansen along the Siddhartha Highway. The distance between Pokhara and Tansen is 123 kilometers. Situated midway along the route from Pokhara is Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It is a convenient stop on the way to or from Royal Chitwan National Park.
Gorkha is the birthplace of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of modern Nepal, and hence it is the ancestral home of the Shah Kings of Nepal. Situated on a hill overlooking the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, there is an old palace known as Gorkha Durbar. The palace is said to have been built by King Ram Shah. King Prithvi Narayan Shah began his campaign to unify the Kingdom from this palace of Gorkha. There are two temples of Gorakhnath and Kali inside the palace precinct. Gorkha Durbar is one of the most outstanding examples of Nepalese architecture. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple of Gorkhanath, where from the town derives its name.
The world famous Gorkha soldiers hail from this place. Gorkha can be reached in about four hours from Kathmandu and in about two hours from Pokhara. Regular buses for Gorkha leave at 7 A.M. every morning from the Central Bus Terminal in Kathmandu. A side trip to Manakamana either from Gorkha or from Khaireni on the Prithvi Highway is very enjoyable and interesting. Cable car facility is also available from Kurintar.
Lumbini; A religious destination:
Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam, the Shakya prince, the eventual Shakyamuni and the ultimate Buddha- the Enlightened One. At the time his birth of the prince the city was a part of the kingdom of Kapilvastu.
The main attraction of the city is the Sacred Garden, spread over 08 Sq. Kms and possesses all the treasures of the historic area. In the gardens that surround the ruins, there is a Buddha tree where Siddhartha Gautam gained enlightenment and became Buddha. To the west of the Mayadevi Temple, stands the Ashoka Pillar, which did Emperor Ashoka erect in 249 BC to commemorate his pilgrimage to the sacred site. The inscription on it in Brahmi script proves Lumbini as the place where the Buddha was born in 623 B.C. To the south of the Pillar one finds the sacred pond- Puskarni – the place where Queen Mayadevi took a bath just before giving birth to the Buddha. One can reach in Lumbini by Bus or car.
One of the most famous tourist destinations outside the Kathmandu valley is Nagarkot, which is located on the rim of Kathmandu Valley at an elevation of 7,200 feet. It offers the panoramas of the major peaks of western Nepal like Annapurna range, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal range, Langtang range, and Gaurishankar in the east. It is 32 km north east of Kathmandu. It takes 45 minutes drive from Kathmandu and is best for sunrise and sunset.
At dawn and dusk the snow-covered peaks are painted in shades of rose, pink orange and gold. It is a sight not to miss, though one can never be sure of the visibility of the mountain ranges even during the winter months. Seeing a single pink peak appearing in the midst of clouds can be as thrilling as seeing the whole 200-mile panorama of peaks. Since mornings are clearer than afternoons, it is recommended spending a night up here.
Nagarkot is also a place for day hikes, especially when you do not have enough time for long treks. The Best part of these hikes is that everything goes down the hill from the time you start. The three possible destinations for day hikes from Nagarkot are Banepa, Sankhu and Changu Narayan. Number of comfortable hotels and lodges are available here.