Popular Tourist Destinations
Kathmandu Valley comprises the three ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, which were once independent states. The three cities house seven UNESCO World Heritage shrines which are together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture). The valley is also home to hundreds of other exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic temples and magnificent art – reminders of the golden era in Nepal’s architecture.
Legend has it that the valley was was once a primordial lake ringed by verdant mountains. In this pristine lake lived giant serpents until one fine day, saint Manjushree, the Bodhisatva, raised a mighty sword and in one fell swoop, cut open the side of a mountain at a place now known as Chobar. The voluminous waters of the lake gushed out, leaving behind a fertile valley capable of supporting large urban settlements over the millennia. But the valley’s remarkable cities with their ornate palaces, the superbly crafted pagodas and the monumental stupas are testimony of the artistic genius of the Newar craftsmen, the original inhabitants of the valley.
Kathmandu Durbar Square (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Swayambhunath Stupa (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Pashupatinath Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Bouddhanath Stupa (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Patan Durbar Squeare (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Patan Industrial State
Bhaktapur Durbar Square (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Changu Narayan Temple (World Heritage Monument)
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, in the Terai plains of Nepal is one of the greatest pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. More than 400,000 Buddhists and non Buddhists visit Lumbini every year. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture) and holds immense archeological and religious importance.
Sacred Garden: It was here in the gardens of Lumbini that Prince Siddhartha Gautam, who later became the Buddha, was born in 623 BC. The nativity site is marked by a commemorative pillar erected by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka of India during his pilgrimage to the holy site in 249 BC.A large number of Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world visit Lumbini to pray at the Mayadevi Temple where excavations have revealed the “marker stone” showing the exact spot where Siddhartha Gautam Buddha was born. The sacred Puskarni Pond where Queen Mayadevi had taken a bath before the birth of Buddha lies to the south of the pillar. It was also in this pond that the infant Buddha was given his first bath.
Monuments: To the north of the Sacred Garden are monastic zones where different countries have built temples and monasteries depicting different sects of Buddhism. The Myanmar Temple (Lokamani Cula Pagoda) is a shiny gold and white structure that resembles the Shwe-dagon Pagoda of Yangon. The China Temple, built by the Buddhist Association of China, is a complex of pagodas, prayer rooms and meditation cells. Across the road is the Dae Sung Suk Ga Sa Korean Temple. The Japan Peace Stupa, built by Nippon Jon Kyohoji of Japan, is a 41-m tall structure with four different Buddha statues set into the stupa’s dome facing the four cardinal
Lumbini -Buddhist Circuit Tour:
Lumbini Village Tour
The Everest region is located in the northeast of Nepal. The 10-day walk through the middle hills of Solu to the higher altitudes of Khumbu to the base of Sagarmatha, or Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak, is an opportunity to observe and participate in the daily life of the legendary Sherpa people. The prime attraction – the 8,848 m peak of Mt. Everest – lies in Sagarmatha National Park, which is also home to two other eight thousanders – Lhotse and Cho Oyu – besides several other prominent peaks above 6,000 m.
Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1979, much of the 1,148 sq. km park lies above 3,000 m. The park is composed of rugged terrain with deep gorges, glaciers and huge rocks. The vegetation in the park changes from pine, hemlock, fir, juniper, birch, rhododendron and shrubs to alpine plants and then to bare rock and snow. It is home to the ghoral, tahr, serow and musk deer as well as the impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, red-billed chough and the yellow-billed chough.
The trail to Everest also begins at Lukla, the airport at 2,850 m. The trail climbs up the Dudhkoshi River Valley, and the following day brings you to the legendary Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu (3,500 m), which is the staging point for expeditions to Everest and other peaks in the area. Above Namche lie the traditional villages of Khunde and Khumjung. Khumjung which is the largest village in the Khumbu lies at the foot of the sacred peak Khumbila. The Khunde Hospital, maintained by Himalayan Trust, and Khumjung School, the original Hillary School set up in 1960, lie here.
Across the canyon from Khunde, perched on a high ridge, is the Tengboche Monastery, the leading Buddhist center in the Khumbu. The monastery rests amid stunning views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Pines, azaleas and colorful mountain rhododendrons ring the attractive monastery. There are rest houses, lodges and camping sites here.
From Tengboche you can continue on to Pheriche, Kala Pattar and the hamlet of Gorakshep. From here, the site of Everest Base Camp is easily accessible, as is the summit of Kala Pattar (5,545 m), from which much of Mt. Everest is clearly visible. However, you must take time to properly acclimatize as the altitude gains are rapid.
The Annapurna Region in north western Nepal has been touted as having the world’s best trekking routes. From the lake city of Pokhara, popular treks lead to Jomsom, Annapurna Base Camp, Mustang, Manang and around the Annapurna mountain. Short treks to Sikles and Ghandruk are just as popular. The Annapurna region is an area of contrasts comprising the wettest, driest and windiest places in Nepal.
The Annapurna Circuit:
It is by far the most popular and requires a minimum of about three weeks to go around the Annapurna massif. What makes this trek so special is that you can look up to something new in scenery every day. The Annapurna Conservation Area begins at 790 m and reaches a high of 8,091 m, the summit of Mount Annapurna I, the world’s 10th tallest peak. The area encompasses forested middle mountain, high Himalaya and trans-Himalayan desert plateau similar to the landscape in Tibet as you move north. The lower elevations are dotted by Gurung, Magar, Thakali and Brahmin villages while Tibetan cultural influence becomes apparent as you go north.
The trek goes counter-clockwise from Besi Sahar, off the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway, to Naya Pool, and reaches its high point at Thorong La, a pass at 5,416 m. On the way, you pass through stunning mountain scenery – Manaslu, Langtang Himal, Annapurna II and IV, Annapurna III, and, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri. In between these two 8,000 m peaks lies the dramatic Kali Gandaki gorge – the deepest in the world.
Langtang is one of the nearest trekking destinations from Kathmandu and is an unparalleled combination of natural beauty and cultural riches. Langtang lies about 130 km north of the Kathmandu Valley close to the border with Tibet, China. It is Nepal’s first national park, and lies between the Himalayan range to the north, dominated by Langtang Lirung (7,245 m), the highest peak in the area, and smaller peaks to the south – Chimse Danda (ridge), Ganja La pass (5,122 m), Jugal Himal and Dorje Lakpa (6,989 m).
The trek here is more adventurous as the area is visited by fewer tourists. Apart from the spectacular scenery, a visit to the area is an opportunity to explore the lifestyle and culture of the Tamangs, whose craftsmanship, language, dress and houses bear their uniqueness. Langtang is also known for its many glaciers – of which there are more than 70 of varying sizes – and high altitude lakes that include Gosainkunda, Parvatikunda, Bhairavkunda and Dudhkunda. The forests in the region have temperate and sub-alpine vegetation. Wildlife includes migratory birds, deer, monkeys, tahr and pika.
The Langtang River passes through the high, gentle Langtang Valley before emptying in a raging torrent into the Bhote Kosi River through a long, narrow defile at the west end of the valley. Whereas the major rivers of Nepal flow south from Tibet cutting through the Himalayan chain, the Langtang River, a major tributary of the Trisuli Ganga, flows east to west, cutting, as it were, across the grain of the country. The Trisuli, or Bhote Kosi as it becomes above Dhunche, forms an important corridor and ancient trade route through the mountains between the Ganesh and Langtang Himal, to Kerong in Tibet.
Chitwan literally means “heart of the jungle”. In recent years Chitwan tops the list of things to do in Asia. It is a truly wildlife adventure of a different kind – jungle safaris on elephant backs or jeeps, birdwatching, canoe rides and jungle walks.
The Chitwan National Park is Asia’s best preserved conservation area, where wildlife thrives and their habitats remain intact. Only half-hour flight from Kathmandu, the park lies in the Inner Terai lowlands and consists of Sal forests, tall elephant grasslands, hills, ox-box lakes and flood plains of the Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers. Enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Natural) in 1984, the park spreads over an area of 932 sq. km.
Trekking in Chepang Hill Trail
JANAKPUR, the birthplace of Janaki or Sita, the consort of Lord Ram, is an important religious pilgrimage site in the Terai plains, in south central Nepal. In ancient times, Janakpur was the capital city of the Kingdom of Mithila and the centre of Maithil culture during the Treta Yug, or period, nearly 12,000 years ago.