Kathmandu and around - top places
Arriving in Kathmandu is intense for all senses. The city is heavily polluted, hence you cannot breathe properly. A food poisoning is almost guaranteed. With all of those downsides, it is nevertheless, the most beautiful city I have ever been to. You cannot read about all the small corners and temples in the guidebooks, everything there has to be explored by yourself.
Kathmandu initially looks like an Indian city with a lot of traffic. The difference starts once you leave the busy streets and enter any smaller alley or a square without the car traffic. Religions exist one next to the other. Hindu temple stands next to the buddhist stupa, and people pray all the time, together in this coexistence.
A must sees in Kathmandu and around, covered in this blog post are:
- Boudhanat – giant stupa
- Durbar square
- Pashupatinath Temple Complex
Durbar Square - Kathmandu
Heavily destroyed during 2015 earthquake, Kathmandu’s City of King – Durbar square is probably at the top of every guide to this city. It is one of the 3 Durbar squares in Kathmandu valley and the most known about. The other ones, personally even more beautiful are in Patan and Bhaktapur.
Pashupatinath Temples - Kathmandu
It is a truly magical place. We went there in the evening, on the day our flight to Lukla was cancelled. Luckily enough it was a Teej festival day. During Teej Festival, Nepalese women dress in their beautiful red saris, fast to honor Lord Shiva, sing, dance and pray for a happy marriage.
Pashupatinath is also a place of body cremations. Unfortunately this is what it is known for among tourists. Indeed there is no easy way to avoid seeing the fire coming from the cremation platforms, but this place is much much more. One might easily write an entire book on the sites of Pashupatinath temples.
Boudhanath Stupa - Kathmandu
Boudhanath is one of the holiest sites for Buddhists, therefore it is also a home to the large Tibetan community. Do not expect to feel the calmness and zen vibe of the meditation, though. It is a very busy place, where busy markets noise mixes with loud bells, praying and songs. There are a lot of small monasteries and monks schools around Stupa’s central point. All worth visiting at least for a glance.
Patan, a hidden gem of Kathmandu, or actually a separate small city neighbouring Kathmandu that you can reach with a 20min taxi ride.
Patan is like a teleportation to another world, a move back by 100 years to the most oriental place you can imagine, with a distinct smell of incense, mixed with food, flowers and filth.
The city feels distinctly different from Kathmandu. Its Sanskrit name means: The City Beauty, and a walk there offers a glimpse of indigenous inhabitants life. Its Durbar Square is the finest collection of temples and palaces in Nepal, even after the 2015 earthquake.
Do not stay in busy and smelly Thamel. I can highly recommend staying in Patan. It is a calm oasis and off beaten track place where you will catch a breathe after busy sightseeing days. There are plenty of hidden temples, both Hindu and Buddhist, and even more beautiful small streets with artisan shops.
Where to sleep: Temple House Hotel. Good quality to price, small boutique hotel next to Patan’s centre. Their service desk offered the best knowledge about literally everything: from restaurants, through climbing permits to rearranging flights.
When wandering around Patan, try the local deli and restaurants. The ones around ots Durbar square have a good variety of indian and nepali cousines. They even serve some cocktails!
Bhaktapur is worth a day trip if you planned enough time in Kathmandu Valley. We used our buffer day that remained left after we came back from Everest Base Camp and Three Passes Trek.
Bhaktapur is being called ‘City of Devotion’. We were part of the local festivities the day we visited. The atmosphere on the Durbar Square was very special with people surrounding the highest temple of the valley. If you’re interested in Nepali culture and heritage, this is a place you really must visit on your trip to Nepal.