Sightseeing around Kathmandu

In and around Kathmandu

Of course, visiting Kathmandu’s surroundings takes time, but if you’re staying in the capital for a week, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy and discover the city’s outskirts. From simple walks to visits of exceptional sites, live your stay to the rhythm of the country. Spirituality, discovery and smiles are the watchwords of Nepal.

After leaving the tourist district of Thamel, take a day trip to Swayambhunath temple. This Buddhist temple, also known as the « Monkey Temple », probably because of the colonies of monkeys roaming around visitors, is one of the most popular excursions for travellers. A Unesco World Heritage site, the temple’s hilltop architectural ensemble features an incredible stupa overlooking the Kathmandu Valley.

Temple Swayambhunath, Katmandou, Népal

Photo credit: Flickr – Dhilung Kirat

The numerous steps leading up to the site are quickly forgotten, as the spiritual atmosphere reaches its climax at dawn and dusk, when the faithful meditate and turn around the sparkling white stupa, all the while activating the many prayer wheels. The incense, the butter lamps, the incantations, everything is captivating. Stand at sunset facing the horizon and enjoy the moment, it will undoubtedly be one of the unforgettable moments of your trip.

The Kathmandu Valley epitomizes the essence of Nepal, and the talent of Nepalese architects and craftsmen is quickly apparent once you’ve discovered the medieval towns and villages of Patan, Bodnnath and Bhaktapur. All Unesco World Heritage Sites, these towns offer travellers a chance to get off the tourist trail and get a taste of real Nepalese life.

Durbar Square, Patan, Népal

Durbar Square in Patan – Photo credit: Flickr – Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

The Pashupatinath site proves that you’re far from the European continent. This site is home to Nepal’s largest Hindu temple, where devotees and sadhus come to seek the blessing of Pashupati, the master of the herd so venerated on this site.

One of the most distinctive features of these places is the cremation of bodies by the sacred waters of the Bagmati. Famous like its Indian counterpart, Varanasi, the cremation ghats are used for open-air cremations of both royalty and ordinary people. The body of the deceased, wrapped in a shroud, is placed on a pyre in front of family and friends. The rituals are open to all, and prove to be a unique « experience ».

Sâdhu, Pashupatinath, Népal

A sâdhu – Photo credit: Flickr – Jean-Marie Hullot

Around the banks of the Bagmati, numerous temples are set up where groups of sadhus wander, hoping to earn a little money from the visits of the many tourists. A visit to the Pashupatinath site is a great step into another world, another culture, a real imprint of the Hindu religion, allowing everyone to witness with the utmost respect an event that seems unreal to any foreigner. Located just a few minutes from the capital, allow around 30 minutes and embark on a visit you won’t soon forget.

Do you know the area around Nepal’s capital?