Nepal is a small mountain landlocked kingdom in the world. Even with its small area of 147,181 sq. km., Nepal holds 10 places as UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization) ‘World Heritage Sites’.
There are 830 properties in the World Heritage list having cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value. Among them there are 644 cultural heritage sites, 162 natural heritage sites and 24 mixed properties. Out of these, 10 sites are from Nepal, all known as popular places to visit in the country.
1. Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the popular places to visit in Nepal. It is a beautiful heritage site full of cultural and ancient crafts, drawing and handicrafts, etc. It is situated at the heart of Kathmandu with old temple palaces, spectacular images and other unique construction. The name Hanuman Dhoka Square comes from the big statue of Hanuman (the legendary monkey god mentioned in Hindu epic, ie. Ramayana), and Dhoka refers to the big gate to the royal palace. The royal palace dates back to the 14th century. The Hanuman Dhoka Durbar square is the historical seat of royalty where the kings are crowned and their coronations are solemnized. Noticing its importance, UNESCO listed it as world heritage in 1997.
Kumari Ghar: Kumari (Vestal Virgin) or the living goddess who represents a very ancient Hindu diety of Nepal locally known as Taleju is Buddhist by birth. The temple of Kumari is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka palace. The building has intricately carved wooden balconies and window screens. This building was built in 1757 by King Jaya Prakash Malla.
Kasthamandap: Located near the temple of Kumari, it is said to have been built by King Laxmi Narasimha Malla in 16th century. It is said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. The city of ‘Kathmandu’ derives its name from this temple.
Jaishi Dewal: A five minute walk from the Kasthamandap is the Shiva temple of Jaishi Dewal which is famous for its erotic carvings it is still one of the main routes of the chariot festival of Indra Jatra and other festivals.
2. Bhaktapur Durbar Square, situated at an altitude of 1401 meters, covers an area of four square miles. It is an example of cultural and ancient crafts, drawings and handicrafts. ‘Bhakta’ means ‘devotees’ and ‘Pur’ means ‘city’ so, Bhaktapur means city of devotees. Devotees still remain a medieval charm and visitors to this ancient town are treated to a myriad wonders of cultural and artistic achievements. The past glory of the Mall rules continues to be reflected at the Durbar square.
The Golden Gate: It is the main entrance to the main courtyard of the 55 windows palace.
The Big Bell: There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the stone temple of Bastala Devi , it is also known as ‘Bell of the Barking dogs’
The national art Gallery: It contains ancients and medieval paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhists schools depicting tantrism of various periods and also the descriptions.
Dattatraya Square: The Square takes it name from the Dattatraya temple. The square is famous for ornate Monasteries known as Maths.
Bhairavnath Temple: This temple was first built as a one-storey pagoda but was later changed into a tree storey temple in this by king Bhupatindra Malla.
Nyatapole Temple: This five storey pagoda was built in 1702 Ad by King Bhupatindra Malla.
3. Patan Durbar Square is located at 5km southeast of Kathmandu and consists of palaces of Malla kings and temples. There are fine pagoda and Shikhara style temples, stone statues and unique artistic Newar architectures in the square. The palaces and temples were built during the Malla period. Also known as Lalitpur or Yala De (Newari), this square is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments. This diversity of mediaeval culture, which allowed both Hinduism and Buddhism to flourish, has left a rich legacy of impressive sightseeing.The stupas, Rato Machhindranath and other various temples built from the period of Ashoka to the period of Malla dynasty still add the aesthetic beauty to this city today. The twenty one spires (Gajurs) of Krishna Mandir are completely made of stone. Besides it, the windows of elephant bones (hides), the statue of Yog Narendra Malla, Taleju temple, stone tape and ponds, etc, are the artistic works of Lalitpur Durbar Square.
Shikhara style Krishna Mandir was built by king Siddhi Narsingh Malla in the 17th century. It is supposed to be the 1st specimen of Shikhara Style temple made completely of stone. Most of the important scenes from the ancient Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayan have been engraved on its frizes.
Patan Museum: The museum inside the Durbar and specializes in bronze statues and religious objects. It is situated in Keshav Narayan Chowk. It was actually opened in 1997 but the building it is situated in dates itself of 1734. It is considered as one of the best museums in Asia as a whole.
Main Chowks: The main attraction of Patan Durbar Square is the ancient Royal palace indeed. It consists of three main courtyards (Mul chowk, Sundari Chowk and Mani Chowk, Narayan Chowk). The northeastern corner of the Mul chowk is the three-story octagonal temple of Taleju Bhawani built by King Shree Niwas Malla.
4. Pashupatinath temple of God Shiva is one of the popular places to visit in Nepal. The Pashupatinath temple is regarded as a very special and popular temple among the religious sites of Nepal. This temple is situated at a distance of 4 kilometers away in the north east of Kathmandu. The Lichchhavi kings have laid Shivaling of this temple. Thereafter, the Malla kings made it more beautiful and attractive by converting it into two stories. People of different castes and religions come to this temple to worship with great respect. Likewise, devotees from abroad come to worship the lord Shiva. The forest, Kailash and Ghat around Pashupatinath temple have made the surrounding environment attractive, beautiful and worth seeing it. This temple is very important from a religious point of view. It is one of the holiest spots for Hindus. The main temple is situated on the bank of the Bagmati River which is a tributary of the holy Ganga Jee river of India.
5. Changunarayan temple is supposed to be the oldest temple of Nepal. The Lichchhavi kings observed Sri Champak or Changu Narayan with great devotion and respect. Similarly, the Malla kings also protected this temple with great devotion. It is situated in the north from Bhaktapur Durbar. The Hindus, Bouddha and Shakyas come to observe and worship in the temple of Sri Changu Narayan. Narayan, or Vishnu, is the preserver of creation of Hinduism. A legend says that once Vishnu in his act of destroying evil killed a Brahmin priest who had turned to evil. Such an act was considered one of the five most heinous crimes. Vishnu contemplated his deed and wandered here and there on Garuda, the mythical half man, half bird form. When he reached Changu, a hermit by the name of Sudarsana, not recognizing Lord Vishnu, beheaded him. Once beheaded, Vishnu felt regretful of his sin. He said that from then onwards he will live on the hill at Changu, where he was redeemed for his sin.
6. Boudhanath Stupa is one of the popular places to visit in Nepal. The Boudhanath Stupa of Sri Lord Buddha has been given great importance among the temple of Gods and Chaityas of Nepal. It is situated in the north-east about 7 kilometers away from Kathmandu. The Jyoti Swarup Chaitya is according to the Buddhist Grantha. The devotees of different religions come to visit and worship this Chaitya. This Colossal Buddhist Stupa is one of the biggest Lamaist temples in the world. It is built in the Pagoda style. At present, there are five Gompas (Tibetan monasteries) where Tibetan Buddhist monks pray to the Buddhist deities.
7. Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the popular places to visit in Nepal. According to Puran (mythological beliefs), God Swayambhunath was originated from the flower Lotus. The Chaitya of God Swayambhunath is also a very popular religious site. This Chaitya is situated about 4 kilometers away in the west of Kathmandu. God Swayambhunath is also regarded as Jyoti Swaroop (light). The God Swayambhunath is also considered as the creator and destroyer, too. People from different religions such as Hindus, Buddhist, Shakyas, etc. come to worship God Swayambhunath. There are many temples in the Swayambhunath site, but the main Chaitya is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist Chaityas. It is said to be about 2000 years old. The Swayambhunath site is situated on a hillock about 77 meters high from the ground level.
8. The Lumbini is the place where the Gautama Buddha was born. The exact year of his birth is strongly disputed, with possible dates ranging from the 11th to the 6th century BC. The town of Lumbini is one of the four holy places in Buddhism: the sites of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse, and death. The site remained neglected for centuries. It was rediscovered by a German archaeologist only in 1895. A temple and a bathing pool are believed to be originals from the era of Buddhas in Nepal. Lumbini is situated in the south west of Terai belt. This place is the center of religious pilgrimage for millions of Buddhists. This place is known in the world as the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha. Buddhists come to visit and worship here. Devotees also come to worship from abroad. Various kinds of natural heritage are found here. It is said that in those days, Lumbini was a beautiful garden full of green shady Sal trees.
9. The Chitwan National Park is nestled at the foot of the Himalayas; it has a particularly rich flora and fauna, is home to one of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros, and is also one of the last refuges for Bengal Tigers. It was established in 1973, and is Nepal’s first National Park. Located in the Southern Central Terai of Nepal, it formerly extended over the foothills. The property covers an area of 93,200 hectares, and extends over four districts: Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Parsa and Makwanpur.
The park is the last surviving example of the natural ecosystems of the ‘Terai’ region and covers subtropical lowland, wedged between two east-west river valleys at the base of the Siwalik range of the outer Himalayas. The core area lies between the Narayani (Gandak) and Rapti rivers to the north and the Reu River and Nepal-India international border in the south, over the Sumeswar and Churia hills, and from the Dawney hills west of the Narayani, and borders with Parsa Wildlife Reserve to the east. In 1996, an area of 75,000 hectares consisting of forests and private lands and surrounding the park was declared as a buffer zone. In 2003, Beeshazar and associated lakes within the buffer zone were designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
10. The Sagarmatha National Park covers the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest at 8,848 m, and its surrounding high mountain ranges. It is an area of geologically young mountains with sharp peaks and glaciers. The Dudh Kosi river originates here. Gokyo Valley (a RAMSAR site) has a number of lakes.The park is located in north-eastern Nepal, in the Solo-Khumbu region.It encompasses an area of 1,148 square kilometers and ranges in elevation from its lowest point of 2,845 meters at Jorsalle to 8,848 meters at the summit of Everest. Most of the land is barren, with grazing lands on the lower elevations. There are relatively few mammal species due to evolutionary factors.
– by Susie M.