Kathmandu, a city to be explored
Whether you have a single day in Kathmandu, before your hike to Nepal fairly high mountains, or you have a full week to explore the premises, it’s hard not to find charming streets, beautiful temples, and hospitable people that greet you. With its beautiful buildings and countless shops, there is plenty to do and the rich culture can be experienced at the city’s museums or at a walk in Kathmandu’s twisted streets.
Thamel in Kathmandu, a district with exciting trade stalls, restaurants, and shops
Thamel, the district where most hotels, restaurants, and shops are scattered, is composed of a maze of small roads and alleys, making even a small walk in the city a new adventure. On the smallest side roads and in the distant backyards there are exciting sides of the city that you do not expect. It is not only the traditional sights worth a visit in Kathmandu, and an insight into the busy everyday life in the big city seems to be just as valuable. Everyday life revolves around the butcher’s street, the fruit and vegetable markets on the town’s squares and the busy dental street; a street with countless dentists with colorful signs and not least the Vaishya Dev or dental tree, where locals strike a coin in the tree with a hammer to relieve their toothache. Regardless of how much you study a map to get to know the city, there always seems to be a new dirt road or a cozy side street up – it’s just getting started.
If you go outside of Thamel’s streets, there are other exciting districts and attractions to discover. Near Thamel you find the Garden of Dreams, which, as the name suggests, is a wonderful and peaceful oasis in the middle of the big city. With its plants and trees and idyllic decor, it is a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. Despite the location on a large road, there is room to find and calm and for the flowers’ scents to unfold. If you continue from the same road away from Thamel you will shortly enter Naraynhiti, the royal family’s former palace, and the place where large parts of the royal family, including the king and queen, were killed by the crown prince. Today it is a museum that shows several of the beautiful rooms in the palace and has details of the massacre that took place in 2001.
A myriad of temples in the Kathmandu Valley
Of course, to a very Hindu country like Nepal, there are a lot of religious symbols and buildings. There are a lot of beautiful temples scattered around Kathmandu, but nothing can match the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in the cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. All three are UNESCO World Heritage Lists and are relatively close to each other, and it is clear that the ancient temples are something special. Locals and tourists frequently visit the sites, but the vast amount of temples allow visitors to spread to enjoy the surroundings at their own pace.
The Buddhist Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu is the largest of its kind in Asia and is also a place where many locals come to pray. The size and the crowd alone are enough to thrill most, but if that is not enough, it is recommended to climb the open floor of the stupa. It gives a more serene experience and a different angle to enjoy the whole square and the colorful praying flags that adorn the monument.
A culinary experience in Kathmandu
The indigenous people of the Kathmandu Valley are known as Newari and the traditional food should be experienced in Kathmandu. Several restaurants specialize in this type of food, consisting of lentils, curry, different types of meat and rice. If this is not the case, you can always try the delicious momos; a dumpling that you dip into a sauce of peanut and tomato – an eternal favorite.
The whole experience of Kathmandu is seasoned with the hospitable people who welcome travelers everywhere. You are often greeted with a friendly “namaste” and it is well-known proverb that you come to Nepal for the mountains and come back for the people.