Figured it out?
That’s right. Not only does Nepal have the highest mountains on the planet; some of the best trekking and climbing around; and national parks full of tigers, elephants, rhinos, and more; but the Kathmandu Valley has a cultural heritage to rival the best around.
Here’s the list of all 7 of these impressive UNESCO World Heritage sites:
- Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu) Durbar Square – This one is right in the heart of Kathmandu. It is crammed with palaces, temples, and public spaces; and is also the home of the Karakumari, a child who is worshipped as a god. At least until she hits maturity, that is. At that point they find a new one.
- Patan Durbar Square – Also known as Lalitpur, Patan is 14 km east of Kathmandu. It is, along with Kathamandu and Bhaktapur, one of the three large, ancient Newar Kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley. The site’s primary feature is a large Darbur Square, although it contains numerous other points of cultural interest, including a fantastic museum on Hinduism and Buddhism.
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square – Bhaktapur is an ancient Newar city 8km east of Kathmandu. It was formerly a capital of Nepal and today houses more than 300,000 people. The old city contains an array of temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.
- Bauddhinath (Buddhist stupa) – The largest stupa in Nepal.
- Swayambhu (Buddhist stupa) – Perched on a hill overlooking Kathmandu, Swayambhu is the the oldest Buddhist monument in the Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as the “Monkey Temple” for the hordes of screeching monkeys that rule the temple and the slopes of the hill leading up to it.
- Pashupati (Hindu temple) – This is one of Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrines. The site, situated on the sacred Bagmati river, is comprised of temples, ashrams, images and inscriptions. Pashupati is also the primary location for the cremation of Hindu residents of Kathmandu.
- Changu Narayan (Hindu temple) – The most ancient Vishnu temple in Kathmandu Valley.
Although it hasn’t yet attained world heritage status, Kathmandu is also the home of Places Restaurant and Bar, an oasis of serenity tucked away deep in the heart of Kathmandu’s Thamel neighborhood.
Seriously, the place is that good. Great food all day long, whether it’s the mouth-watering mushroom and asparagus eggs Benedict, the delectable Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad, or, my personal favorite, a perfectly cooked chocolate soufflé that is way better than you think it can be. Places also has the best wifi in the country for what that’s worth. Which for most people these days is a lot.
Here are a few more odds and ends if you end up making your way to Kathmandu anytime soon:
- If you’re looking for a place to stay with easy access to those Places soufflés, go with the dorms at Shree Tibet Family Guest House.
- If you’re new to town and want try some dal baht, try out the Banana Cafe.
- If you’re just off the trail and want to replace some lost weight, head to the Illy in Thamel for half priced pastries after 8PM.
- If want to do some trekking, read this or this.