The Kathmandu Valley contains three royal cities - Kathmandu; Patan and Bhaktapur. Kirtipur and Thimi are two other smaller municipalities. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Valley.
The Valley was once a lake. According to legend, a Buddhist saint named Manjushree drained out the water by slashing a passage through the hills and peopled it with his followers. Over the millenniums, a refined urban civilization emerged, built on a unique synthesis of Hinduism and Buddhism. Dynasties came and went. Commerce and crafts flourished. Its religious Newar inhabitants built fabulous cities and artistic temples that are unmatched in the Himalayan region.
Thamel-As you browse through the shops of Thamel, you will marvel at the different assortment of goods being sold. Whenever you look, you see on display different kinds of wood and metal works, attractive masks, antiques, "rice papers" calendars, etc. A wide selection of garments, from stylish coats to light summer dresses are also exhibited for the shopper and items variety doesn't stop here. Many tailoring shops sell T-shirts with embroidered dragon motifs, the Third eye, Tin Tin in Tibet, the Yeti and other interesting characters as well as outlandish slogans. If you have your own logo or design then you can make a special order. Numerous curios sell strange trinkets? And beautifully painted boxes and antiques and jewelry shops have precious gems for sale. Hand woven carpets are eye-catchers and you can purchase delicately painted thankas as wall hangings to adorn your living room back home.
Boudhanath- This colossal stupa, one of the biggest in the world, is situated eight kilometers east of the capital. Like Swoyambhu, the stupa is inset on four sides with the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha gazing in each direction. Built on a huge octagonal base, the stupa is also inset with prayer wheels. It is common to see dozens of worshippers constantly perambulating the stupa while taking care to spin each of the sacred prayer wheels. Around the stupa are various smaller shrines and the houses of important Lamas (Buddhist priests). The stupa takes an added importance at all the Buddhist festivals when Buddhists come from all over the country to take part in the sacred rituals.
Pashupatinath- This is the holiest of all the Shiva shrines in Nepal and is the abode of Lord Pashupatinath, the guardian God of Nepal. The temple of Pashupatinath is a large double-roofed pagoda of gold-gilt and brass; the gateway is plated with silver. It stands on the western bank of the Bagrnati, about five kilometers northeast of Kathmandu and contains the sacred lingam of Pashupatinath. The whole place is a mosaic of other temples and shrines dominated by the big gilted figure of Nandi, the mount of Shiva; this is seated on a stone pedestal opposite the main gate, flanked by a golden trident. There is a crematorium outside the temple by the side of the wide but shallow river. On the occasion of the annual festival of Shivaratri (February/March), the temple is thronged by thousands of devotees, including a large number of pilgrims from India. The temple is also the site of a number of other different festivals and rituals taking place throughout the year.
Swoyambhu- Swoyambhu is said to be two thousand years old, making it one of the world's oldest and most glorious Buddhist Chaityas. The Chaitya (Stupa) which forms the main structure, is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painted on the four-sided base of the spire is the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. The temple is situated three kilometers west of Kathmandu city, and stands in the Valley. This hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and pagoda temples.
Kathmandu Durbar Square- The Square teems with life as vendor's children tourists and other crowed around the temple of the Living Goddess Kumari Goddess Taleju and the Kastamandap Rest house. Many pay homage to the monuments of Kal Bhairab Lord Hanuman and to the images of Shiva and Parbati. The buildings here are the greatest achievement of the Malla dynasty and they resulted from the great rivalry between the three palaces of Kathmandu Patan and Bhakatpur. More wood carvings statues and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine. Kathmandu became the seat of Valley's royalty when King Jayasthiti Malla unified the valley in the 14th century (although it was divided later by his descendants). The Malla king's royal palace was located at Hanuman Dhoka, and it is still retained as the ceremonial palace of the present Shah dynasty. Although the present King Birendra does not reside there, important traditional royal ceremonies including the crowning of the king are still conducted at Hanuman Dhoka.
Patan Durbar Square complex, situated in the center of Patan city, also known as Lalitpur, houses the residence of the former Patan royal family. Patan Square and its surroundings are good specimen of ancient Newari architecture. There are three main courtyards in the palace: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk, the oldest one, is at the centre of Patan square. Several multi-sized and multi-styled temples occupy the western part of the complex. Main among these are Krishna Temple, Bhimsen Temple and the Golden Temple of Hiranya Varna.
Bhaktapur City, or Bhadgaon as the city is also known a museum of medieval art and architecture with many fine examples of sculpture, woodcarving and colossal pagoda consecrated to different gods and goddesses. The city is shaped like a conch shell, one of the emblems of the god Vishnu, and was founded by King Ananda Deva in 889 A.D. The altitude of the city is 1,402 meters above sea level. Pottery and weaving are its major traditional industries. The city lies fifteen kilometers to the east of Kathmandu, and is linked by a highway. Some of Bhaktapur's important sightseeing places are as follows: Durbar Square-Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of the kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place - struts, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows all seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony. The main items of interest in the Durbar Square are:
Nagarkot- Nagarkot is situated 32 kms east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2175 m above sea level. Nagarkot is a popular tourist spot of Nepal. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Nepal Himalayas including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest-if weather permits), can be seen from here). The Himalayan peaks Like Manaslu (8463 in). Ganesh Hinial (7111 in), Langtang (7246 in), Choba Bhanre (60l6 in), Gaurishanker (7134 m) and number (6957 in), are also clearly seen from Nagarkot). Overnight at Hotel in Nagarkot.