No matter if you have a few gaps days before or after your trek or you just wanted to explore this ancient city, Kathmandu has a lot to offer to its visitors. Take a look at our 5 suggestions of how you can spend your day in this cradle of Nepali culture and tradition. You can combine a few of them or just try making it to all of the places; it is completely up to you. The most important thing is to enjoy the magic of this ancient city!
1. Pasahupatinath Temple
The Pashupatinath Temple is a Hindu temple located on the banks of the river Bagmati on the eastern side of Kathmandu. The temple is dedicated to Lord Pashupatinath, an incarnation of Shiva – the lord of the animals. Pashupatinath is a big complex spread over 264 hectare of land and is comprised of more than 500 temples and religious monuments. The main temple, built in the Nepalese style pagoda architecture, lies on the western bank of Bagmati and has two roofs made of copper and plated in gold. The complex has 4 gates, out of which only two are opened on daily basis. Hundreds of cremations are done publicly on the banks of Bagmati daily. Pashupatinath temple is on UNESCO World Heritage Sites's list since 1979 and did not suffer major destruction from the earthquakes in April and May, 2015.
2. The Three Durbar Squares
Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur durbar squares are three relics of the Newari cultural dominance in the Kathmandu Valley. The three squares are filled with royal courts and temples that will give you a feeling like you have time travelled a few centuries back in time. Apart from the cultural and religious artefacts, there are many restaurants where you can enjoy traditional and international delicacies. Not to forget to mention the local food shops and stalls that are definitely a must for the food adventurers. The Patan Museum, which is centrally located on the Patan Durbar Square was proclaimed as the best museum in South Asia of its type and visiting it is a perfect way to find out something more about the local history.
3. Garden of Dreams
Located in the heart of Kathmandu’s tourist hub - Thamel, the Garden of Dreams, also known as the Garden of Six Seasons, is a neo-classical garden and a part of the Kaiser Mahal complex. It was built in 1920 and consists of 6,895 square metres of gardens with three pavilions, an amphitheater, ponds, pergolas, and urns. The garden is open for visitors for a nominal fee and it is the perfect gateway from the concrete jungle. There is also an excellent restaurant within its premises where you can enjoy tasty food while looking at the wonderful greenery.
4. Kopan Monastery
Kopan Monastery is a Tibetan style Buddhist monastery located near Boundhanath stupa on the northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu. Kopan has become especially famous for teaching Buddhism to visiting Western foreigners. The courses generally combine traditional Lam Rim teachings with informal discussion, several periods of guided meditation, and a vegetarian diet. It is also a famous recreational destination for domestic and international visitors alike. It is only open to public on Saturdays. If you are not interested in learning more about the theory and the practice of Buddhism, Kopan Monastery is still worth the visit for its wonderful architecture and the great panoramic view it offers of the city and the valley.
5. Swayambhunath Stupa
Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the two famous Buddhist stupas in Kathmandu, the other one being Boudhanath stupa. Since Boudhanath is currently under construction after suffering some damage in the earthquake of April, 2015, Swayambhunath stupa is the better option for visiting out of the two. It is located atop of a hill in the western part of Kathmandu. The Swayambhunath complex consists of stupa and a variety of shrines, temples and monasteries around it. It is worshipped both by Hindus and Buddhists and comes second in importance only after Boudhanath stupa. The shrine has two entries: a stairway of 365 steps, leading directly to the front of the stupa and a car road around the hill which approaches the shrine from the south-western side. Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. The temple’s location plays a major role in the creation story of the Kathmandu Valley, which was believed to be a lake with a lotus flower in the middle. Manjusri, an important Bhuddist sage, had a vision of the lotus and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley can be good settlement for humans and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, he cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower became the Swayambhunath stupa.