The first point you landed in Nepal is TRIBHUVAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT located in the Kathmandu district. Kathmandu has been the capital city of Nepal since the 15th century whereas Bhaktapur was known as the capital city before. Kathmandu is a valley surrounded by hills so the climate is neither too hot nor too cold. This city is heaven in terms of climate. Until the 1960s, the Kathmandu valley was known as Nepali Valley or Napa Valley. Kathmandu is known as one of the world's oldest capitals, Kathmandu Valley has 7 UNESCO sites on the heritage list. These 7 sites boast cultural and historical monuments that represent various eras and regimes.
Kathmandu is a place for its contribution to art, sculpture, architecture, culture, literature, music, industry, trade, agriculture, and cuisine and left its mark on the art of central Asia. The word Kathmandu is derived from the Sanskrit name KASTHAMANDAP “ WOODEN SHELTER”. Kasthamandap temple is a structure in the durbar square built-in 1956 by KING LAKSHMI NARSING MALLA. Here in Kathmandu, you encountered the different patterns of temples i.e Pagoda, Shikhara, Chaitya, and other styles too. The valley's trademark is the multiple-roofed pagoda which may have originated in this area and spread to other Asian countries. Hence Kathmandu is known as the city of temples.
Newars are the indigenous inhabitants and the creator of the historic civilization of the valley. Their language is today known as Nepal Bhasa. They are highly rich in culture, values, tradition, and norms. The most famous artist who influenced stylistic developments in China and Tibet was Arniko, a person from the Newar community who traveled to the court of Kublai Khan in the 13th century AD. he is known for building the white stupa at the Mailing Temple in Beijing.
In recent phases, Kathmandu valley has had a high migration rate for a better life due to its high level of culture and economic development. Even with urbanization taking place, the Newars have sustained their culture in Kathmandu valley. Kathmandu valley was also known as Kantipur in ancient times. If you want to explore the beauty of Kathmandu valley, a day tour in Kathmandu would be the best option for you.
Bhaktapur is the smallest city of Nepal locally known as Khwopa. It lies in the east corner of the Kathmandu valley about 13kmf far from the city. Bhaktapur has a huge value of historic and cultural norms. Bhaktapur was also known as a Bhadgaun in ancient times. Bhaktapur was the capital city until the 15th century, founded by king Ananda deva in the 12th century.
Bhaktapur is one of the most visited tourist destinations of Nepal. Bhaktapur speaks a distinct dialect of Nepal Bhasa. Bhaktapur is notable for its pottery and handicraft industries and for its rich culture. Due to its well-preserved medieval nature, UNESCO has inscribed Bhaktapur as a world heritage site since 1979. Changunarayan temple and Bhaktapur durbar square are the two world heritage sites in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is also referred to as the “Rome of Nepal”.
Besides temples and pottery, the stone inscription is also the extra beauty of Bhaktapur. Stone inscriptions are locally referred to as "Nepal Bhasa" as well as a ubiquitous element at heritage sites. The earliest dated inscription in "Nepal Bhasa" is dated Nepal Era 293(1173AD) whereas the oldest dated inscription in Kathmandu dates from the year 107 of the Saka era which corresponds to 184/185 A.D. It refers to ancient stone slabs, pillars, and pedestals with text carved on them.
The Malla era was a golden one for Bhaktapur as it was during their reign that art and architecture flourished in Bhaktapur. After its annexation, Bhaktapur lost most of its importance with a halt in the development of arts and Bhaktapur remained isolated from the new capital city of Kathmandu and Patan allowing it to remain a homogeneous Newari city
Lalitpur is located in the south-central part of Kathmandu. The city has an area of 15.43square kilometers and is divided into 29 municipalities. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. Lalitpur was founded in the third century BC by the Kirat dynasty and later expanded by Licchavi's in the sixth century further expanded by the Malla dynasty during the medieval period.
The most important monument of the city is Patan Durbar Square. Patan Dhoka is one of the historical entrances to the old city. This city has maintained a culture of craftwork even in the face of urbanization. It is renowned as a very artistic city that has an abundance of temples and viharas.
The original native language of Patan is Nepal Bhasa. Lalitpur has produced the highest number of renowned artists and finest craftsmen ever recorded in the history of Nepal art. The city is also known as Yala.
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World heritage sites in Kathmandu valley
There are seven world heritage sites in Kathmandu valley which represent distinct culture, history, and castes.
- Pashupatinath Temple
- Swayambhunath Stupa
- Kathmandu Durbar Square
- Boudhanath Stupa
- Changu Narayan Temple
- Bhaktapur durbar Square
- Patan Durbar square
Since 1979, the Pashupatinath temple has been a world heritage site of Nepal. This is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu collection of temples, ashrams, images, and inscriptions raised over the centuries along the banks of the sacred Bagmati river. The temple covers 264 hectares of ground.
This stupa was built in the 5th century mentioned in an inscription of 1552AD(Nepal Sambat 762). This is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. The stupa lies on top of the hill which is dominated by the enormous stupa at the highest point. This Buddhist pilgrimage site has an enormous mythological history of the Buddhist and Newar communities.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
This Durbar square has a great value for the history of the Malla and Shah dynasties. Until the 19th century, this was the residence of the royal family. There are various places under this heritage. They are Shiva Parvati Temple, Trailokya Mohan Temple, Hanumandhoka, Basantapur tower, etc. The earthquake has affected this place immensely, also renovating it.
The Stupahis place was founded by Licchavi king Sivadeva between 590-604CE. Boudhanath stupa is one of the khasti chaitya styles in Nepal located in the northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu. Khasti is derived from Newar Word which represents dewdrop. The buddha stupa is on the top of the mandala. The massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal and the world. This stupa has a mythology value for the Newar Buddhist community and Tibetan Buddhists.
Changu Narayan Temple
Haridatta Barma is the founder of the Changu Narayan temple. This is a Hindu temple on a high hilltop also known as Changu. This temple is located on the east side of Kathmandu and surrounded by Champak tree forest and a small village known as Changu. This temple is the oldest temple in the history of Nepal which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and held in special reverence by the Hindu temple. The two-story roofed temple stands on a high plinth of stone. This place has a great history and carries the importance of art from our past era.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
In 1696 A.D. King Jitamitra Malla built the temple later reconstructed by King Bhupatindra Malla. The total area is about 6.52 sq miles. The Taleju Temple is the most important part of this place. Nyatapola, the 55stored temple is another measure of the attraction of this place. This is the biggest and highest pagoda of Nepal ever built with such architectural perfection and artistic beauty. This place has a museum that stores and exhibits objects from history, artistic and cultural things.
Patan Durbar square
Patan is the center for both Hinduism and Buddhism communities. It lies in the Lalitpur of Nepal also one of the durbars from the Malla dynasty in Kathmandu valley built by King Siddhi Narsing Malla. The durbar square is a marvel of Newar architecture. There are many temples and idols in the area. Some chronicles hint that the Thakuri Dynasty built a palace and made reforms to the locality, but there is little evidence of this. Patan was a prosperous city since ancient times. Lord Krishna was worshiped in this temple as it has its own myth regarding the King.
Lastly, Kathmandu valley is the valley of the temple. Different cast, traditions, lifestyles can be encountered when you are exploring the Kathmandu valley.