Nepal's capital is a bustling and vibrant city. Full of history, palaces and temples, it's an ideal base to explore the surrounding Himalayan peaks.
A must-visit is Durbar Square, where kings used to be crowned. Despite the fact that many of its ancient buildings were damaged by a devastating earthquake in 2015, it's still worth visiting!
1. Durbar Square
Located in the heart of Kathmandu, Durbar Square (also known as Hanuman Dhoka or Basantapur) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit attraction for any tourist visiting Nepal. It features a wide range of temples and palaces that reflect the country’s rich history.
It is also home to the Kumari Ghar, a three-story building that houses the Kumari, a young girl believed to be the living goddess Durga. Other important attractions include Kasthamandap Temple and Hanuman Dhoka Palace.
The square is open to tourists at any time of the day, but it tends to be less crowded in the morning and evening. This makes it a good option for people looking for a quiet place to visit during their holiday in Kathmandu.
2. Swayambhunath Stupa
Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the oldest temples in Nepal. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it's been a major centre of religious worship for centuries.
It's a huge complex with a number of small chaityas and stupas around it. To get to the main site, you'll need to climb 365 steps up to the top of the hill.
There's a big brass-plated Vajra (or Thunderbolt) at the top of the stairs, which is the Tantrik sign of the power of enlightenment. It also has animal signs on it to represent the Tibetan zodiac.
To the Western side of the Stupa is a small pond called the World Peace pond. This is a popular place to toss coins into, and it is believed that if you do so, your wishes will be granted.
3. Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the most famous Buddhist sites in Kathmandu and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every day hundreds of tourists and locals visit this mystical temple.
A major pilgrimage site, Boudhanath is surrounded by a 16-sided wall and contains five dhyani Buddhas. It is also linked to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Padmapani), who is depicted in 108 forms.
Throughout the day, people walk in a circular motion around the base of the stupa, chanting mantras and twirling prayer wheels, cylinders of metal and wood that contain scrolls of Buddhist mantras.
Boudhanath is a sacred place for many Buddhists and Tibetans who have left their homeland to make a home in Nepal. The area around the stupa is lined with small alleys that are filled with craft shops and Buddhist monasteries.
4. Taleju Temple
Towering over the Durbar Square is the mighty Taleju Temple, dedicated to goddess Taleju Bhawani. She is considered a patron deity of the Malla kings.
During her visit to Kathmandu from India, the goddess was accompanied by a ferocious flesh-eating demon called Majipa Lakhe. She would often meet with the king in secret and help him make decisions.
The king was pleased with her advice, but one night his wife saw the goddess playing dice with him and became angry. In a bid to get her back, the king searched for her among the high cast Newar girls. She was eventually found, incarnated as a young girl.
5. Garden of Dreams
Located in the heart of Kathmandu, the Garden of Dreams is a stunning oasis of tranquility. Originally built in the early 20th century, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Kathmandu.
The garden is a serene retreat that offers a unique blend of history, nature, and art. It’s the perfect place to relax, rejuvenate, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
The garden was designed in neo-classical style by landscape architect Kishore Narshingh. It’s more than 74,000 square feet and features pavilions, ponds, and buildings.