Kathmandu – the fabled Shangri-La below the silver peaks of the Himalayans, the verdant valley of the kind, smiling people where gods blend with the mortals. Anyone with even a little interest in eastern civilization would know that the phrase “City of Temples” is synonymous with the Nepalese capital. Katmandu, indeed, is a city of gods, a city of devotees. The origin of Kathmandu valley is as sacred as the lake of its origin, obscured into a mythical legend. Today, the valley has evolved into a veritable crucible in which over the course of thousand years, many races, religions, languages, and customs have molded into an iconic civilization.
Like world’s any capital, Kathmandu has witnessed some rapid expansions and developments, especially in the last decade. Also, Nepal’s largest city, it has become quite up to date in contexts of convenience and comfort, boasting of all kinds of luxury within the palm’s range. However, it is a city where ancient traditions fraternize with the latest technology. Despite all the hustles of being a metropolitan city, the city has retained its refreshingly unique traditions dating back to ancient and medieval history. Stepping into Kathmandu is like stepping into a different dimension, where the times bygone and the present blend effortlessly, a city everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
You can think of Kathmandu as a marvel of a microcosm, like a flawless emerald in a filigree setting. It is an incredibly historic and diverse city with breathtakingly beautiful Newari architecture, centuries-old Hindu shrines and Buddhist stupas. As you walk through the stone-paved alleyways and narrow streets, where instead of glances, your shoulders meet with the commuters, you will marvel at the ornate woodcarvings on palaces and temples, wander in the thronged bazaars of the inner towns, and pause at the temple of the Living Goddess: Kumari of Kathmandu.
Nowhere in the world will you the same concentration of tradition, art, and culture that exists in Kathmandu Valley. To most Nepalese, the valley is Nepal – a notion which stems from the land’s early history, which was heightened during the cultural heydays of the Mallas when the valley flourished as the center of art and excellence. Thus, the history has endowed Nepal with majestic landmarks that will transfer you into a medieval haven, far from the chaos of 21st century. The city is dotted with multistoried pagoda temples with intricate woodworks and phallic artworks, colossal Buddhist statues with Buddha’s piercing eyes looking over the valley, illustrious palaces and courtyards that make the valley a living cultural museum. It is evident from the fact that the valley houses seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pashupati Nath Temple, Changu Narayan Temple, Swayambhu Nath Stupa, Boudha Nath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Square, and Patan Durbar Square.
From world-renowned heritage sites to small shrines with vermillion-laden stone statues found in every nook and corner, Kathmandu is truly the city of temples. It is a city of contrasts where you will see temples dating back to millennia adjacent to a cybershop, to witness ancient religious ceremonies updated for modern times. It is a city of friendly and inspired Nepalese people whose talent have created the living heritage that will enthrall and delight you at every turn. A city you need to visit to believe.