Places to visit near KathmanduPopular ||
Within the Kathmandu Valley, and only 30 minutes drives from Thamel, you will find the beautiful medieval city of Bhaktapur.
In the past the Kathmandu Valley was made up of three Kingdoms, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. In fact, during the Malla period, until the second half of the 15th century, Bhaktapur was the capital of Nepal. This ancient Newari city was renowned as a city of culture, temples and craftwork. The same is still true today.
In recent times Lalitpur and Kathmandu have blended into each other although they each have their own Durbar Squares where the original Kings would have lived. And just like its sister cities, Bhaktapur also has its own Durbar Square with its ancient temples and monuments.
Changu Narayan is dedicated to Lord Vishnu of the Hindu trinity; it is near the village of Changunarayan in the Kathmandu Valley on top of a hill at the eastern end of the valley. It offers magnificent views of the surrounding countryside as well as the Himalaya to the north. It is 22km from Kathmandu and 6km to the north of Bhaktapur. It is believed to be built first in the 4th century and it is one of the oldest Hindu temples of the valley. A stone slab discovered in the surrounding area of the temple dates to the 5th century, and it is the oldest stone inscription discovered so far in Nepal. After the old temple was devastated it was rebuilt. Changu Narayan temple is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritatge Site.
Changu Narayan is one of the best examples of Pagoda style of architecture, claimed to have originated in Nepal. You also get to see the double-roofed structure where the idol of Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Narayana is defined. The elegantly built temple has elaborate roof struts showing multi-armed Tantric deities. A kneeling image of Garuda dated to the 5th century, the vahana or vehicle of Vishnu with a snake around its neck, faces the temple. The gilded door depicts stone lions guarding the temple. Gilded windows also flank the door. A conch and a disc, symbols of Vishnu, are carved on the two pillars at the entrance. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple.
If you don’t have time to go very far from Kathmandu, Nagarkot can (depending on the season) provide you with breathtaking views of the mountains and it’s famous for its sunrise views over the mountains. You can even see the very tip of Everest, way over there on the right.
Nagarkot, situated 32 km east of Kathmandu at an elevation of 2,185ms, is the site of an ancient fort built to monitor the external activities of the Kingdoms. Today you don’t need to watch for invading troops while you’re there, but you can taking in eight (out of 13) of the Himalayan ranges
Panauti is a quaint and interesting destination in Nepal. It feels as if it has been left exactly the way the founders had built the town. A nostalgic atmosphere covers the narrow town streets and ancient structures. It is known as a Newari town that is located near the Roshi Khola and Pungamati rivers. Panauti can easily reached from Kathmandu, which is 32km from Panauti, Dhulikhel and Banepa. This fascinating destination in Nepal was also a dowry. King Bhpitendra Malla gave his sister the town of Panauti as a dowry.
As with many villages and towns of Newari, Panauti is also steeped in culture and tradition. Visitors will often find colorful stones, petals and other items that are laid out on the pavement. They are representations of Lakshmi’s footprint, known as the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Locals leave these offerings in the morning to invite and bring Lakshmi to their homes and lives. The most noteworthy attraction in Panauti, is the Indreshwar Mahadev Temple complex, which dates back to the 15th century. The Mahadev temple is surrounded by smaller temples and a number of shrines, but the Indreshwar Mahadev temple steals the show. It is an impressive three-storey structure, which is constructed as a pagoda. The struts that are located on the inside of the temple date back to the 14th century and the carvings in the struts are breathtaking. The intricate and detailed carvings of warriors and other figures are almost life-like. The doors are just as spectacular as the struts, unmatched in craftsmanship and beauty.
The temple is located opposite to the Indreshwar Mahadev Temple which also has spectacular woodcarvings to be viewed, with many of the other temples exhibiting historical relics, murals and stone reliefs. At the Brahmayani temple visitors will find the well-preserved and greatest collection of religious art masterpieces, painted in the Newari style.
Outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy mountain biking or hiking should enjoy the routes between Namo Buddha, Lubhu, Dhulikhel, Banepa and Panauti. The surrounding area is breathtaking and peaceful. Visitors to this destination in Nepal will be surprised at the great amount of attractions and the beautiful landscapes that can be seen all around the town.
This hill-station offers the perfect little trek which takes in flora and fauna, spectacular panoramas of the mountains and takes you through Shivapuri National Park.
Drive to Sundarijal (about 45 to 60 minutes by car) and walk up for a couple of hours passing the main water resource for Kathmandu and through Shivapuri National Park with its sub-tropical forests until you reach MalKharka. Here you can have lunch then hike about two hours to Borlang Bhanjyang. Another 1.5 hours on and you will reach Chisapani (2,215m). The views on the way are spectacular. You can see the Langtang Himal, JugalHimal, Ganesh Himal and Gaurishankar Himal ranges.
You can continue your trek from Chisapani to Nagarkot.
The small town of Kritipur is on a hill, 5km southwest of Kathmandu. In the past there were 12 gates of the town. Parts of the old city wall still remain. The main industry in town is the Kritipur Cottage Industry Center and most of the residents are either weavers or farmers. There are some great views of Kathmandu and the mountains behind it. Kritipur is on two hills and the saddle between the hills. With its easily defendable hilltop location, when Prithivi Narayan Shah attacked the valley in 1768, Kritipur was the first place to be attacked. After a tough siege, the town was taken. The king being angry at the resistance ordered that all the male residents of the town have their lips and nose cut off, but those who could play wind instruments were spared. It is said that news of this punishment spread across the valley and resistant was weakened elsewhere across the valley. Tribhuvan University, the University of Nepal, has the best library in Nepal. And it is at the bottom of the hill that the town is on.
At the bottom of the hills, where they meet is the three-tiered Bagh Bhairab Temple, which is holy to both Buddhist and Hindus. The main deity of the temple is Bhairab, in the form of a tiger. There is a temple torana to the left of the entrance with Vishnu riding Garuda. Bhairab in the middle of Ganesh and Kumar is below them. The temple is covered with swords and shields that belong to the troop of Kritipur, who were defeated by the army of King Prithivi Narayan Shah. Sacrifices are made here on Tuesday and Saturday mornings.
The triple-roofed Uma Maheshwar Temple, or Hindu Kvat, is gotten by climbing the stone stairway by the saddle. On either side of the beginning of the stairway is a stone elephant with spikes on them. The main deity is the form of Shiva with Parvati leaning against him. From the temple there are good views of the surrounding area. The temple was originally built in 1673 and had four roofs. It was damaged in the earthquake of 1934 and was restored.
The Chilanchu Vihara is on top of the southern hill. It has a central stupa and four stupas around it. It has statues and bells.
Dhulikhel is one of the most popular places to see the Himalaya panorama. Situated 30 km from Kathmandu at an elevation of 1,550 m you can see the mountain ranges of Langtang, Gauri Shankar, and Numbur. But more than this, Dhulikhel gives you an insight into a real Newari town, without many of the tourist trappings you will come across in other similar towns. Other than contemplating the mountains, after you have looked round the little temples and town, there really isn’t very much to do here. But you can use it as a base to travel to Nama Buddha (see below) or to trek to Nagarkot.
Nama Buddha lies about 40 km from Kathmandu and is a Buddhist pilgrim site. Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery is home to around 250 young monks, who will welcome you to join in their morning or evening prayers. The monastery is open to the general public on Saturdays. If you wish to visit at any other time, please contact them
Khokana is a Newar farming village lying 7 km south of the Ring Road that encircles the two cities of Kathmandu and Patan. Khokana is a simple place, but is filled with life, history and culture. It is a tiny Newari village with a reputation for two things-mustard oil and the local temple. The Newari who live here eke out a simple living off the land. Much of their daily activities take place outside of their dwellings and they really do seem to embrace nature. Thus, as you make your way down the main street of the village, you will see woman sitting outside spinning, men crushing seeds, and other daily activities. The village is famous for its unusual mustard seeds in order to extract the oil. In the center of the town you will find that the main street is particularly wide-especially for a village of such diminutive size. The street was widened significantly during the rebuilding process after an earthquake shook the village in 1934. You will also find that no matter where you in this tiny village, a large three-storied temple will catch your eye. This massive building certainly dominates the skyline of the village and can be seen from virtually anywhere in the area. The temple is dedicated to the local mother goddess, Shikali Mai, and it is regularly used by the local people. A similar temple to the northeast of the village is mainly only used during times of epidemic. Clearly, Khokana does have something to offer-even if it will only keep you busy for a few hours. So make an effort to stop here during your travels and enrich your stay in Nepal.
Kakani is an old hill station, home to the Tamang ethnic group, situated 2,073m above sea level. In fact until very recently it housed the summer retreat for diplomats of the British Embassy. Today it is a peaceful park area where people from Kathmandu comes for a day trip and picnic. The best time to come and enjoy the views of the Ganesh Himal, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges would be any day except Saturday – due to the afore mentioned picnickers! The Thai Memorial Park is located here which commemorates the 113 victims of the 1992 Thai Airlines crash.
Kulekhani is best known for the hydropower damn which provides visitors with a lake like environment and the opportunity for boating! Its breathtaking scenery, landscape, rivers, waterfalls and flora are well worth the time it takes to get there from Kathmandu. Once the ancient trade route with India, you can also see a number of mini Buddhist stupas on the way. Actually you can combine a trip with visiting the Buddhist town of Pharping with its monastery and sacred cave. There is also the possibility to stop at the Bheda Farm at Chitlang.
Located in the south western edge of Lalitpur district, 14 km from Patan, at the base of the 2715 m high Mt. Phulchowki (Mountain of Flowers), the highest point on the Valley ridge, Godavari is a peaceful little village, surrounded by dense jungles going up the western ridge of the Mahabharat range. Godavari acquired its name from a repenting ascetic who went to a place of the same name in India to do penance for the crime of killing a cow, considered sacred by the Hindus. Upon returning to his native village here he established the temple complex of Panch Dhara or five taps, whose waters are supposed to flow down to the river Godavari in India. Known for its natural beauty the jungles here are home to at least 256 species of birds and 300 species of butterflies and moths. The Botanical Garden, founded by King Mahendra in 1962 is the only one of its kind in the country boasting an astonishing 4500 specimens of flowering and non flowering plants including more than 90 varieties of orchids.
This hill area is just 15 km from Kathmandu and is very popular with locals for picnics and just getting out into the fresh air! Offering panoramic views of the valley it’s a great place just to relax. For those who want a bit more adventure, paragliding is also now available. Please ask us for details.
Dakshinkali & Pharping
Dakshinkali is a tantric goddess worshiped by Hindus all over the world. She is equally venerated by the Buddhist and other Nepalese. The Kali cut developed after worship of fertility cult all over the world. Because of the tantric influence, she is represented with a skeleton without flesh and blood, very symbolic. She represents the eternal time and lives next to the cremation ground. Near Dakshinkali one can visit ancient Pharping, it is believed that the Padhmasambhava, the founder of Lamaistic School of Buddhism in Tibet meditated here in the caves. In the cave you can see handprint, footprint, headprint and other parts of the body. Every day many Buddhist pilgrimage visit here. Many Buddhist monasteries are built around here.
Optional / Extended / Alternate Activities
- Helicopter Tour to Everest Base Camp - 4-5 hours
- Mountain Flight over Mt. Everest Area - 1 hour
- Short 1 Day Hiking around Kathmandu - 4-6 hours
- Kathmandu, Bhaktapur & Patan Tour - 2 days
- Kathmandu Valley with Nagarkot Sunrise/Sunset Tour - 4 days
- Kathmandu, Pokhara & Chitwan Tour with Mountain flight & paragliding - 5 Days