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As soon as the jet you are flying on lands at the airport of Kathmandu, you will be approached by tour staffs and escorted to your hotel. Later, you may want to enjoy the night-life around the tourist-center Thamel or rather take a rest to relax your travel exhaustion.
Your sightseeing begins at Bhaktapur which is the smallest district of Nepal and the third city of Kathmandu valley. Bhaktapur was once a powerful kingdom before being annexed into modern Nepal by a Shah King. The city still preserves its medieval architecture that is evident from the buildings with a traditional touch. The major townsfolk of Bhaktapur are Newars and compared to the sister cities Kathmandu and Lalitpur, culture is well conserved here. The Durbar square- major tourist attraction of Bhaktapur is enlisted in the UNESCO world heritage roster which comprises of soaring temples erected centuries ago. Durbar square is common term for UNESCO heritage site where the royal palace of Mallas was situated. Some of the main monuments in the courtyard are 55-window palace with art gallery, Taleju temple, Siddha Laxmi temple etc. Adhering to the Durbar square are two other squares Taumadhi and Dattatreya boasting with medieval temples that astoundingly resisted two devastating earthquakes of 1933 and 1990. The guide will elaborate the details to you. Apart from the main city, the rural aspects of the town add to the beauty of Bhaktapur :the potters fabricating handsome ceramics out of the rotating wheel, farmers working in the fields in traditional attire, the alleys flanked with cluster of old houses etc. Make sure to taste the delicious Juju Dhau or the king’s yogurt.
After spending a good afternoon here, you will drive uphill to the perched-up village of Nagarkot – a viewpoint popular for the sights of sunrise and the Himalaya peaks, including the Everest. Bounteous hotels provide accommodation to the exuberant number of tourists. You will overnight here.
After relishing the views at the dawn from Nagarkot, you will be escorted to Patan. The district,officially known as Lalitpur, is separated from Kathmandu district by the holy river-Bagmati. The main tourist attraction of Patan is also the Durbar square. The place was resided by Malla kings during the medieval period of Nepal who were the rulers in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur also. So, the temples are quite similar to what you observe in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu Durbar Square. Apart from the temples and museum around Patan Durbar square, you will also visit a 14th century Buddhist monastery which is the center of rituals of Newar Buddhists of that area. Their ritual is quite different than that of Tibetan Buddhists. Your next destination is the Durbar squares of Kathmandu- 3 plazas viz. Kathmandu, Hanumandhoka and BasantapurDarbar squares. Here, you can observe ancient and medieval temples with inimitable structures and architecture. There is also a 500 year old temple built of a single tree trunk – thekasthamandav, after which Kathmandu got its name. Other places worth visiting here are Kumari (living goddess) temple, 9-storey palace, TalejuBhawani temple and Hanuman Dhoka palace.
Finally, you will be accompanied to Swayambunath aka “monkey temple”, a religious complex consisting of a stupa (many confuse this with the Swayambhunath itself) with mural of Buddha’s half-closed eyes in all 4 directions seating upon a Mandala and neighbored by other small shrines (temples and monasteries) around. The complex dates back to 5th century AD. Afterwards, you will visit the national museum of Nepal situated near the Swayambhunath premise. From here, you will be transported back
to your hotel.
If you have a couple of days to spare then it recommended that you stay for the extra 2 days and satiate yourself with the additional features of the Valley. These include popular as well as less-explored but noteworthy places.
You will begin your day with a drive to Bauddhanath – a stupa and one of the holiest Buddhist sites of Nepal. The place named after the stupa is inhabited by many Tibetan refugees alike who fled the Chinese invasion in 1959. There are more than 50 monasteries in Baudhanath, and don’t be surprised to see few westerners strolling in red robe – the famous scientist-turned-monk Matthew Ricard being one of them.
You will now head southward to Pashupatinath which is the biggest Hindu temple of Nepal and also an important pilgrimage for all Hindus around the world, especially followers of Lord Shiva. Though foreigners are not allowed to the main temple, you may freely navigate other major parts of this shrine whose architecture is awesome for the ones interested in arts. The monkeys roaming around and jogis (Indian Shiaivite hermits) puffing cannabis from their bong are worth observing or snapping.
Subsequently, you will drive to a suburb of Kathmandu which does not fall within the 3 districts of the valley. However, the place is accessible in less than 2 hours from Kathmandu – thanks to the recently maintained highway with the Japanese aid. The place is also famous as a viewing platform for the speculation of peaks like LangtangLirung, DorjeLhakpa and Gauri Shankar. Dhulikhel is also predominantly occupied by the Newars. The climate of Dhulikhel is cooler than that of Kathmandu valley, especially notable during the prime of summer. You will spend your night here.
Before starting the hike to Namo Buddha, you will enjoy the sunrise and picturesque acmes of mountains visible with the sunrise. A temple of Hindu goddess Kali is situated on the way. After about 3 hours of climb, you will reach the Namo Buddha stupa. According to a legend, a prince-turned-Buddha overwhelmed by extreme compassion submitted himself to feed a tigress and her hungry cubs. This legend is illustrated in the marble slab in the monastery nearby- TrangoGompa.
Now you will descend to another Newari suburb Panauti which holds a cultural and historical significance too. Apart from being an important medieval city, the place is famous for a number of Hindu and Buddhist shrines. The town is situated at the convergence of Roshi and Pungmati River though a third river is said to join them invisibly. Since the Hindus consider confluence of two or more rivers as a sacred phenomenon, Panauti holds a religious importance too. The medieval temples of Panauti, like those of the Kathmandu valley, endured the two massive earthquakes during the last 80 years. After sightseeing the ancient temples, you will return back to Kathmandu.