The face of Kathmandu, cut off from the world by the Himalayas, has not changed for centuries. And even today, after the 2015 earthquake, hundreds of ancient temples, shrines and shrines are among its sights.
The heart of the ancient city is the Durbar Palace Square. She lost some sacred buildings, but the palace of the living goddess Kumari with skillful fine carvings on the facade was practically not damaged. Tourists and the Nepalese themselves stand idle at its walls for a long time, waiting for a little girl to look out of the window – the human incarnation of the goddess Taleju. She spends most of her time in the palace and only occasionally takes part in ceremonies. The elders choose Kumari from girls from 3 to 5 years old according to criteria known only to them. Having matured, the living goddess returns to human status and receives a small allowance. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of Nepal.
It is strictly forbidden to photograph Kumari – attendants strictly monitor this. The penalty for violation is far from childish.
The entrance to the Royal Palace located on the square, as expected, is guarded by the monkey god Hanuman. In the courtyard of this rather modest white building, all the Nepalese monarchs were crowned and from here they ruled the country. After the proclamation of the republic, the palace housed a museum with a small exposition of coins and personal belongings of the last king.
In the late 60s, Kathmandu became an important point on the Hippie Trail, traveling to Goa through Nepal. Attracted by low housing prices and an abundance of Nepalese hashish, they settled on the street, which received the telling name Freak Street. Today, the era of Bob Marley is reminiscent of, perhaps, a couple of shops with clothes made from hemp. And although the smell of weed still hovers over the narrow, dirty street, freaks and hippies are no longer here.
The best viewpoint in Kathmandu is the Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, perched on top of the hill. Apparently, due to this location, the mantras read here are 13 million times more effective than in any other place. The age of the largest stupa of the temple with the all-seeing Eye of Buddha on each of the 4 sides is about 2000 years old. As you might guess, there are a lot of monkeys here, and in clear weather, the peaks of the Himalayas are clearly visible.
In the northeast of Kathmandu is the greatest shrine of Tibetan Buddhism and the largest spherical stupa in Nepal – Boudhanath. It was she who, from the 6th century, was seen by pilgrims walking from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Dedicated worshipers of the Buddha, whispering mantras, go around the stupa clockwise, spinning the prayer drums. Boudhanath is surrounded by hotels for pilgrims and dozens of monasteries of all directions of Tibetan Buddhism. One of the main ones is the Shechen Monastery with a valuable library of sacred texts.
On the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, on both banks of the sacred river Bagmati, there is the most important sanctuary of Shiva – Pashupatinath. The main temple buildings and pedestals where cremation ceremonies take place are located on the west bank. The entrance there for foreigners is closed, but you can watch the rituals and see the architecture of the temple from the opposite bank. Here, on the eastern shore, there are always a lot of sadhus – Shiva adepts seeking enlightenment, flocking to Pashupatinath from all over India and Nepal.
8 things to do in Kathmandu
- Feed the pigeons with sacrificial grain at the Durbar Palace Square.
- Consider the living goddess Kumari in the window.
- Listen to a pooja for traveling sadhus at PashupatinathTemple.
- Look into the “Eyes of the Lotus” and “Eye of the Buddha” in the Tibetan sanctuaries.
- Watch the sunset over the Himalayas from the terrace of Swayambhunath Temple.
- Try to understand the symbolism of the Tibetan mandala.
- Meditate on karma at the Boudhanath Stupa byspinning the prayer wheel.
- Recall the scenes from the film “Little Buddha” by Bernardo Bertolucci, filmed in Kathmandu.
The city lies at a modest height of 1355 m for these places in a mountain valley surrounded by high ridges. Winter in Kathmandu is quite mild – the mountains block the cold winds blowing from the north. The temperature difference is significant, sometimes there are frosts at night, and fogs occur in the late afternoon. Snow rarely falls.
March and April are a wonderful time: temperatures are comfortable, there is little rain. In summer, the monsoons come, bringing rain and stuffiness. But there is no sweltering heat. The maximum number of rainy days falls on the period from May to September. October and especially November is the best time to travel. Warm, almost no rain, and bright sun and blue skies guarantee great photos.