Nagarkot, located 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu, is one of
the most scenic spots in Bhaktapur district and is renowned
for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalaya when the
weather is clear. Visitors often travel to Nagarkot from
Kathmandu to spend the night so that they can be there for
the breathtaking sunrise. Nagarkot has become famous as one
of the best spots to view Mount Everest as well as other
snow-topped peaks of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal.
It also offers an excellent view of the Indrawati river
valley to the east. With an elevation of 2,195 meters,
Nagarkot also offers a panoramic view of the Valley and is
described by visitors as a place whose beauty endures year
Many visitors prefer to visit Nagarkot in the spring when
surrounding valleys break out in a rich kaleidoscope of
different coloured flowers. The flowers are beautiful
against the serene backdrop of the snow-covered mountains.
Ever popular among the tourists are the short treks and
picnics which Nagarkot offers. Treks from Nagarkot are
unique and delightful. For anyone who wants to have an
adventure without exerting much efforts, a hike to
Nagarkot's surrounding areas would be a good option. One can
traverse short distances on trekking trails and come close
to nature's wonders such as the outer of verdant forests,
flower-covered meadows and unusual rock formations.
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Bouddhanath is among the largest stupas in South Asia, and
it has become the focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.
The white mound looms thirty-six meters overhead. The stupa
is located on the ancient trade route to Tibet, and Tibetan
merchants rested and offered prayers here for many
centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the
1950s, many of them decided to live around Bouddhanath. They
established many gompas, and the "Little Tibet" of Nepal was
born. This "Little Tibet" is still the best place in the
Valley to observe Tibetan lifestyle. Monks walk about in
maroon robes. Tibetans walk with prayer wheels in their
hands, and the rituals of prostration are presented to the
Buddha as worshippers circumambulate the stupa on their
hands and knees, bowing down to their lord.
Many people believe that Bouddhanath was constructed in the
fifth century, but definite proof is lacking. The stupa is
said to entomb the remains of a Kasyap sage who is venerable
both to Buddhists and Hindus. One legend has it that a woman
requested a Valley king for the donation of ground required
to build a stupa. She said she needed land covered by one
buffalo's skin and her wish was granted by the King. She cut
a buffalo skin into thin strips and circled off a fairly
large clearing. The king had no choice but to give her the
The Bouddha area is a visual feast. Colorful thangkas,
Tibetan jewellery, hand-woven carpets, masks, and khukuri
knives are sold in the surrounding stalls. Smaller stupas
are located at the base. Gompa monasteries, curio shops, and
restaurants surround Bouddhanath. Conveniently situated
restaurants with roof-top patios provide good food and
excellent views of Bouddhanath.
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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
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:
The Lion Gate : Dating as far back as 1696 A.D., this gate
is guarded on either side by two huge statues of lions.
Alongside, there are two stone images of Bhairav (the
dreadful aspect of Shiva) and Ugrachandi (the consort of
Shiva in her fearful manifestation).
The Golden Gate : The Golden Gate is said to be the most
beautiful and richly moulded specimen of its kind in the
entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure of the
goddess Kali and Garuda (the mythical man-bird) and attended
by two heavenly nymphs. It is also embellished with mythical
creatures of marvellous intricacy. In the words of Percy
Brown, an eminent English art critic and historian, the
Golden Gate is the most lovely piece of art in the whole
Kingdom: it is placed like a jewel, flashing innumerable
facets in the handsome setting of its surroundings. The gate
was erected by King Ranjit Malla and is the entrance of the
main courtyard of the Palace of Fifty-five Windows.
The Palace of Fifty-five Windows : This magnificent palace
was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in A.D.
1427 and was subsequently remodelled by King Bhupatindra
Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls with
their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony
with Fifty-five Windows, considered to be a unique
masterpiece of woodcarving.
The Art Gallery: The Art Gallery contains ancient paintings
belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of various
periods and descriptions. This gallery is open everyday
The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla: This statue showing
King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is set on a
column facing the palace. Of the square's many statues, this
is considered to be the most magnificent.
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This whole square is a cluster of fine pagoda temples and
stone statues; it is at the same time the business hub of
the city. At every step one comes across a piece of art or
an image of a deity, testifying to the consummate skill of
Patan's anonymous artists. The ancient palace of the Malla
kings and the stone baths associated with various legends
and episodes of history are especially interesting to
visitors. The stone temple of Lord Krishna and the Royal
Bath (Tushahity) with its intricate stone and bronze
carvings are two other masterpieces in the same vicinity.
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The history of the Valley, according to the legends, begins
with Swayambhu, or the "the self-existent". In times
uncharted by history, Boddhisatwa Manjusri came across a
beautiful lake during his travel. He saw a lotus that
emitted brilliant light at the lake's center, so he cut a
gorge in a southern hill and drained the waters to worship
the lotus. Men settled on the bed of the lake and called it
the Kathmandu Valley. From then on, the hilltop of the
self-existent Lord has been a holy place.
Swayambhu's light was covered in time because few could bear
its intensity. By the thirteenth century, after many layers
were added to the original structure that enveloped the
Lord's power, a dome-like shape had been acquired. The
stupas central mast was damaged and replaced at that time.
Peripheral sources of power were discovered on the hilltop
as well and stupas, temples, and rest houses were built to
honour them. Images of important deities, both Buddhist and
Hindu, were also installed. Today, age-old statues and
shrines dot the stupa complex.
Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri or
Saraswati - the goddess of learning.
Swayambhu is, perhaps, the best place to observe the
religious harmony in Nepal. The stupa is among the most
ancient in this part of the world, and its worshippers are
diverse from Newar nuns, Tibetan monks, and Brahmin priests
to lay Buddhists and Hindus. The largest image of the
Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the
stupa. Other monasteries here have huge prayer wheels, fine
Buddhist paintings, and special butter lamps which may be
lit after presenting monetary offerings.
Swayambhu is a major landmark of the Valley and looks like a
beacon below the Nagarjun hill. It provides an excellent
view of the Kathmandu Valley. Devotees have climbed the
steps on the eastern side for centuries. Statues of the
Buddha, mini stupas, monasteries and monkeys make the climb
to Swayambhu - which is fairly steep - worthwhile. But for
someone who is pressed for time, the western road allows you
to get off your transport almost at the base of the stupa.
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