Kathmandu, Nepal's Capital City
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal. The population consists of about 1.57 million inhabitants. The population growth is enormous, since in 2011 this was still 975,000 inhabitants. The city is located in a valley on the Vishnumati River at 1,350 meters above sea level.
The city is known for its many Buddhist and Hindu temples and palaces, most of which date back to the 17th century. There are many palaces in Kathmandu that nowadays often serve as ministries. The most famous palaces are the Hanuman Dhoka on the famous World Heritage Durbar Square. In the Kathmandu Valley are six other monuments of the World Heritage List. The other palace is near Thamel and is the former palace of the Nepalese royal family that is now a museum.
Were to stay:
Kathmandu is popular with western tourists, who mainly concentrate in the Thamel district. The city is especially popular with culture lovers and backpackers. It is also a pre-station for Himalayan mountaineers.
Whatever type of traveler you are, Thamel is by far the best neighborhood to stay in. There is a wide range of hotels, from cheap and basic to expensive and very luxurious. The same goes for restaurants, the choice is huge here. There are also a lot of shops, the offer is overwhelming. Whether you're looking for a high-quality souvenir or gear for an upcoming hike, there's plenty on offer.
Kathmandu has a lot to offer, so you can easily spend a week or more here. It can be busy, and the horn is also used more often here than in the west, so it is important to retreat to a quiet place every now and then. We therefore advise you to look for a hotel with a quiet courtyard or roof terrace.
What do do:
There are many interesting places to visit in Kathmandu. Whether it is one of the many beautiful temples, or a quiet park. Whether a busy old square or museum, there is something for everyone. Our favorite trips in Kathmandu are:
Swayambhu Mahachaitya Temple:
Swayambhu Mahachaitya Temple is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. It is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudha. Swayambhunath is the Hindu name. The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period.
A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha's eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the fashion of a nose. There are also shops and restaurants. We walked to the temple from Thamel ourselves, and this is doable. The Temple is located on a hill, so you have to climb a few stairs before entering. Entrance is 200NPR per person for foreigners. Locals pay 50NPR.
Kathmandu Durbar Square:
Kathmandu Durbar Square is located in front of the old royal palace of the former Kathmandu Kingdom and is one of three Durbar (royal palace) Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Several buildings in the Square collapsed due to a major earthquake on 25 April 2015. Durbar Square was surrounded with spectacular architecture and vividly showcases the skills of the Newar artists and craftsmen over several centuries. The Royal Palace was originally at Dattaraya square and was later moved to the Durbar square.
This square is actually a living museum, where many people still live in the traditional way. From fruit merchants to souvenir sellers, there is something to see everywhere. The same goes for animals, many pigeons are fed, and further on there are suddenly some goats resting on a temple. Wonderful to walk around in history here. Entrance fee is 1000NPR for tourists. Note: if you want to use your ticket for more days, have it stamped.
The Garden of Dreams:
The Garden of Dreams, also the Garden of Six Seasons, is a neo-classical garden in Kaiser Mahal Kathmandu built in 1920. Designed by Kishore Narshingh, it consists of 6,895 square metres of gardens with three pavilions, an amphitheater, ponds, pergolas, and urns. The Gardens are recently restored with the help of the Austrian government.
The garden is beautiful and certainly the ideal place to relax and withdraw from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. Admission is 200NPR per person, and it is well worth a visit. The garden is located between Thamel and the Palace museum.
Narayanhity Palace Museum:
Narayanhiti Palace Museum in Kathmandu is like a chamber of secrets that confines some untold history of the Kings of Nepal. Let’s take a tour of this fascinating and mysterious royal palace of Nepal that is now known as Narayanhiti Palace Museum. The palace is huge, and most of the rooms are still furnished as they were when the royal family still lived here.
The history makes it all the more interesting as the Royal massacre took place here on 1st June 2001. In this royal massacre, the whole family of King Birendra was murdered. It is considered a dark event in the history of Nepal that will always bring grief to people's hearts when brought up even after two decades. Various conspiracy theories exist regarding the Royal shootout as there is no legit evidence of the event that verifies the murderer. There are several questions unanswered.
It is forbidden to bring a camera or telephone into the Museum, the reason behind this is unclear to us, but it may have to do with the dark history. There are lockers at the entrance to store these items. Entrance to the museum is 1000NPR for foreigners and 200NPR for Nepalese residents.
A daytime activity that we really enjoyed is a cooking class. Especially with an interesting cuisine like that of Nepal, it is nice to learn something about this cuisine that we can apply in the kitchen at home.
We took a cooking class at Nepal Cooking School, and it went very well. It's good to see that some Nepalese girls have set up a very good cooking school here. It is also good that you can choose a menu yourself, and that you will also do shopping with the ladies. We found it interesting to learn more about the spices and cuisine. A very nice spend and we will certainly apply the things we have learned when we get back home.
Kathmandu also has a lot to offer when it comes to shopping. There is a wide range of Souvenirs, and the quality is usually very high compared to, for example, South East Asia. Negotiation is a must, because sometimes ridiculous amounts are asked. But for the experienced negotiator, there are many good deals to be had. And throughout the city there is a lot of clothing for sale for an adventurous hike. You can also have a custom piece of clothing made in almost every street. So there is something for everyone to buy in the many shops of Kathmandu.