Despite its small geographical size, Nepal is a culturally diverse country. As more than 125 ethnic caste people reside inside the country celebrating their own culture and tradition, Nepal provides an exotic flavor to the traveler who came for a visit. Nepal is full of cultural and historical sites and rich in flora and fauna as well, all across the country. Among which UNESCO has listed 10 places ( 8 cultural and 2 natural ) into World Cultural Heritage Sites.
One of the major Hindu religious sites for devotees of Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath Temple is a very sacred place that lies in Kathmandu Valley. It is the largest temple complex that lies on the bank of Bagmati River which was built in the 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings. It is also a cremation site where Hindus performed the last rituals on the bank of Bagmati River. Pashupatinath Temple was listed in the UNESCO world’s heritage site in 1979 AD.
The temple area includes Deupatan, Jaya Bageshori, Gaurighat, Kutumbahal, Gaushala, etc. The only Hindus are allowed into the main shrine of the temple. The main temple is made in pagoda style enrich in intricate wood carving. It has got four main doors in each direction covered with silver sheets and has a gold pinnacle. There are two sections inside the main Temple namely “outer garbhagrihas” and “inner garbhagrihas”. Inner garbhagrihas is a place where the main idol of Shiva Linga is placed whereas “outer garbhagrihas” is open corridor-like space.
“Maha Shivaratri” is a major festival that is celebrated by hundreds of thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva. They gathered from all over the country and India as well. At this festival, you could see the “Naga Babas” (Nude Saints) on the periphery of Temple, who proclaimed of gaining enlightenment.
Oldest of its kind, the Swayambhunath Stupa lies on the hillock northwest of Kathmandu Valley. It is the holy site for both Hindu and Buddhist people, which also gives a panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley. Stupa’s site is full of statues, shrines, chaityas, and Hindu deities, and the base of the hill is almost entirely surrounded by prayer wheel and deities statues.
The stupa is believed to be made on 460 A.D. King Pratap Malla has resorted and added reinforced architecture in the 17th century. Swayambhu means “self-existent one”. The stupa stands out for its distinctive whitewash body, with buddha’s eyes in every direction. This is also known as “Monkey Temple” as a large number of monkeys dwell in this area.
Located in the northeast of Kathmandu Valley, Boudhanath Stupa is one of the iconic places inside Kathmandu. Surrounded by several monasteries, the main stupa is 36 meters tall in height. The stupa is built in the shape of a mandala, which was renovated by Licchavi Rulers in the 8th century. One of the interesting fact about this place is that it is the part of the ancient Tibet trade route which enters the valley by the village of Sankhu.
This area is rich in Tibetan culture, as many refugees from Tibet settled in this area when they flee from Tibet in the 1950s. The massive earthquake in 2015 had badly damaged the structure of this stupa therefore, the whole part of the dome was needed to be renovated.
Changu Narayan Temple
One of the oldest temples built in Nepal dating back to the 4th century, it is the masterpiece of the finest art and architecture of that time. Changu Narayan Temple is one of the four Narayan (Lord Bishnu) Temple. Located at Bhaktapur District 12 km away from Kathmandu Valley in Dolagiri hills, this temple complex is surrounded by Champak trees. The leaves of Champak trees are used while worshipping Lord Bishnu. Temple complex holds the sculpture of the tenth incarnation of Lord Bishnu along with other major temples like Chinnamasta Devi, Kileshwor Shiva, and other god and goddesses.
One of the invaluable things this place posse is the oldest manuscript ever found in Kathmandu Valley which dates back to 464 AD. A museum has been opened within the temple complex which displays the ancient coins, tools, arts, and architecture. Visitors can also dwell around the ethnic Newari community who settles around the Temple area.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
One of the three Durbar Square inside Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as “Basantapur Durbar Square” which is one of the iconic places rich in art and sculpture where you can see temples, statues, courtyards, alleys. This site was enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 AD. The Hanuman Dhoka Palace was a Royal Palace till the 19th century before they shifted to Narayanghiti Royal Palace. However, several royal ceremonies, king coronation were used to be observed in this complex.
You could find several temples like Indra Mandir, Vishnu Mandir, Taleju Mandir – biggest one -, Kal Bhairav Statue, Swayt Bhairav Statue, Statue of Lord Hanuman, Shiva-Parbati Mandir, Jagannath Mandir is a name of few. Here in the architecture of these temples, you can see the exquisite craftsmanship of local Newari people some dating back to the 16th century too. The carving on the woods, bricks, stones, and timber hold the immense importance in Nepali architecture.
“Kumari” – the living goddess lives inside the Kumari Ghar which lies near to the Hanumandhoka Durbar. People worship the goddess on different occasions and festivals. People celebrate various festivals like Indra Jatra, Bhote Jatra around this complex. Kasthamandap, which was believed to be made up of from wood of a single tree also lies here.
April Earthquake had made immeasurable damage to various iconic buildings and temples in this area and it is still undergoing renovations and reconstruction phases.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square will be another epitome if you wish to witness the authentic architecture of ancient Nepal. Located at the south side of Kathmandu Valley, this place is also full of temples, statues, arts, and monasteries.
Krishna Mandir is a significant architecture, which was built by King Sidhinarsingh Malla in 15 century. This Mandir is apart from the rest as it was made in Sikhar style, which is a brilliant masterpiece. Devotees came to worship in this temple on the occasion of the birth of Lord Krishna.
Other attractive places inside this complex are Rato Machhindranath Temple, Rudra Varna Mahabihar, Bagalamukhi Temple, Kumbeshwor Temple, Golden Temple where you can witness the mastery of ancient craftsmanship.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur also is known as “khowpa” or “bhadgau” also has one of three durbar square inside the valleys. This place is also enriched in medieval architecture like its counterpart. Moreover, this place is least influenced by modernization so you can get the authentic flavor of Newari society with their culture and tradition.
Durbar Square consists of four complexes: Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square, and Pottery Square. The major attractions of this place are 55 Window Palace, Nyatapole Temple-tallest temple in Nepal, Bhairav Nath Temple, Mini Pashupatinath Temple, Statue of Bhupatindra Malla, Golden gate, Lion gate, and many more. Mural paintings, amazing carving on woods, stone, bronze will embellish the beauty of this Durbar Square.
Eminent as Birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha, Lumbini is one of the great religious landmarks of Nepal. It lies in Southwest from Kathmandu Valley which attracts Buddhist pilgrims from across the world. Mayadevi Temple is one of the greatest and iconic places in this region, where the Lord Buddha was born. The great ruler Lord Ashoka has also built the pillar “Ashoka Pillar” with the inscription on its surface stating that Lumbini as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. UNESCO has listed this site into its World’s heritage list in 1997 AD.
Lumbini Garden covers the area of 2.56 square kilometers. Nepal government has been conserving and developing this area with a project name “Lumbini Development Masterplan”. Many countries like China, Myanmar, Japan, Korea, Srilanka, Germany have built monasteries inside this region.
Other attractions of this region are Lumbini garden, Buddhist Library Lumbini International Research Institute, World Peace Pagoda, and several other embellished sculpture. Lumbini has been a place for peace seeker, practice meditation, and to learn Buddha’s philosophy.
Chitwan National Park
The oldest national park of Nepal, Chitwan National Park lies on the inner Terai belt of Mahabharat hill range covering the area of 932 sq. km. This national park gives shelter to numerous variety of mammals, reptiles, and birds along with most iconic One-horned Rhinoceros. This is a perfect place for jungle adventure seeker as you could go for jeep jungle safari, elephant ride, canoeing to witness royal Bengal tigers, Asian gigantic elephant along with other wilderness this jungle has to offer. Another alternative would be visiting the elephant and gharial breeding centers which helps you to know about wildlife in more depth.
You will also get the chance of observing the local Tharu tribe, their lifestyle, cultures. Homestay facility, Tharu cultural dance, Tharu museum are the special attractions of this tribe. UNESCO listed this place into World’s heritage site at 1984 AD
Sagarmatha National Park
This park encompasses the great Himalayan range within its territory including World’s highest mountain- Mount Everest – along with other tallest mountains like Mount Lhotse, Mount Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Pumori. This national park remains busy with all adrenaline junkies, bag packers, and trekkers year around. The Everest Base Camp route remains busy throughout the tourist season mainly in Spring and Autumn. With an area of 1148 square kilometers, this national park is home to rare animal and plant species.
Blood pheasant, Red-billed and Yellow-billed Chough, Himalayan Monal are some of the bird species that could be found exclusively in this region. One can also witness Himalayan Black bear, Himalayan Thar, Red Panda, Musk Deer, Snow Leopard, and several other wild animals during their stay inside the National Park area. Thyangboche Monastery is the biggest and highest monastery in Nepal which lies in this region at an altitude of 3867m.
Sagarmatha National Park was listed on UNESCO World’s Heritage site in 1979 AD.