Set high in a valley formed by four towering Himalayan peaks, Kathmandu is vibrant, bustling city full of spiritual energy. It’s the largest city in Nepal, with its numbers bolstered by the thousands of tourists who pass through every day in search of spiritual enlightenment or Himalayan summits.
Most tour guides will suggest you start your journey at Durbar Square, for good reason. This is a loud, bustling city square full of religious significance that sets the tone for many of the sites throughout Kathmandu. You’ll find the Hanuman Dhoka, a series of beautiful buildings that were used as royal palaces. You’ll see the 600-year old Taleju Temple that stands atop a 12-stage plinth. And inside the Kumari Bahal, you’ll discover the ‘living goddess’, a young girl who is celebrated as the symbol of female spiritual energy.
In Buddhist culture, important relics are held in mound-like structures known as stupas. The Boudhanath stupa that dominates the cityscape in Kathmandu is one of the largest in the world. It’s said to hold the relics of Buddha Kashyapa and a piece of bone from Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. The religious significance of this stupa, and of the 50 smaller Tibetan monasteries that have sprung up around its base, has made this one of the most popular tourist sites in Kathmandu.
After the monarchy that governed the country was abolished in 2009, the locals set about repurposing many of the royal buildings so they better served the people. One such development is the Narayanhiti Palace Museum. The opulent halls and rooms of the former palace have been converted to a museum, largely stocked with the royal family’s exquisite keepsakes.
To escape the sometimes overwhelming hustle and bustle, take a stroll to Swapna Bagaicha, or the Garden of Dreams. The pristine gardens were built around the palace of Field Marshal Kaiser Shamser and were designed in the Edwardian style he favoured. Although the grounds were damaged during the earthquake in 2015, this remains one of the most serene hideaways in all of Kathmandu.
When it comes time to eat, the Thamel district is a popular choice for tourists and locals. Everything from Mexican to Middle Eastern food is on offer, but the Indian and Nepali options are often the best quality. Visitors who venture away from the main drag to try the smaller restaurants will be rewarded with more authentic cuisine and friendlier service. Just make sure to stress how spicy you like your meals, particularly if you prefer them mild.
Experience Kathmandu for yourself. Contact one of our friendly travel consultants on 1300 096 166 to plan your dream holiday to Nepal.