"Kathmandu (Kantipur) - a royal capital.....still" Top 5 Page for this destination Kathmandu by josephescu

Kathmandu Travel Guide: 941 reviews and 2,356 photos

Kathmandu owes its name from Kasthamandap (aka Pavilion of Wood), the oldest building in the entire valley, constructed around the 12th century, located in the Durbar square.

Most of the cultural centres in Nepal are concentrated around the Kathmandu valley, a Valley with thousands of years of history, embracing two major religions (Buddhism and Hinduism) in one of the most dramatic natural environments possible, the Himalayan mountains.

the Kathmandu Valley & the history of the Newari

Kathmandu Valley is the historically, politically and culturally dominating part of Nepal, concentrating the most relevant monuments in the whole country.

The legendary and documented histories of the cities in the Kathmandu Valley are so interrelated that these are difficult to separate. Three city-states have dominated in time over the valley - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur.

A political establishment of the area is dated to the beginning of the Christian era (the Kiran period). This as followed by the Kichchhavi dynasty from the 3rd to the 9th centuries. Patan is believed to have expanded into a consolidated town by the end of 7th century. The town of Kathmandu was established by a later Lichchhavi king. After the 9th century, there is a dark period until the 14th century and the arrival of the Mallas, which is an important period for the flourishing of the Nepalese art and architecture. These developed into a growing spiritual orientation towards animism and tantrism, making it difficult to separate purely Buddhist from purely Hindu art. From the middle of the 13th century, the city of Bhaktapur (aka Bhadgaon) prospered and became a major training centre.

The 3 rival kingdoms of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur have been continuously competing between themselves and hence have brought the artistic expressions in the highest point, which happened by the mid of the 18th century.

In 1768-9, the valley was vulnerable enough to foreign invasions and was conquered and united by a leader coming from the outside, Prhitvi Narayan Shah. He made Kathmandu his royal city, and the Hanuman Dhoka Palace his residence.

In 1833 and 1934, two catastrophic earthquakes brought destruction, and some of the monuments had to be rebuil using much of the original elements and decoration.

Sights

I guess UNESCO had a difficult task to choose among the countless monuments, pilgrimage centres, temples, shrines, bathing sites and gardens, the residential and palace areas of the royal cities in the Valley. Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur and their surroundings have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the late 1970s.

The outstanding value of the area resides not only in the monuments and temples it encompasses, but also in the traditional architecture of the residential buildings, mostly made of fired brick with mud mortar and timber structures, roofs covered with small overlapping terracotta tiles, often decorated with gilded brass, the windows, doorways and roof struts have rich decorative carvings. Strolling around the dusty narrow streets in the Valley was my prefered activity.

One week for the Kathmandu valley was reasonable enough for me to get a feeling on the old Kathmandu and spend some wonderful days wandering around Patan, Bhaktapur, Pashupatinath, Bodhnath and Swayambhunath. But i'd wished i had one more week, as there're so many beauties i was not able to see.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:a travellers Mecca since the 60’s
  • Cons:third world city rushing into a modern era
  • In a nutshell:Intoxicating, amazing, exhausting place
  • Last visit to Kathmandu: Dec 2006
  • Intro Updated Feb 2, 2007
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josephescu

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