November 6th, 2017 by Garusha Katoch

Kathmandu draws scores of visitors all year round- some lured by its majestic peaks while others simply intrigued by its culture. The capital city of Nepal has something in store for everybody, from quaint hills to bustling streets; Hindu temples to Buddhist monasteries; lush gardens to shimmering lakes. If you are wondering where to begin while exploring Kathmandu, keep reading. We have curated a list of top 7 places to visit in Kathmandu to help you plan your travel itinerary.

1. Historic treasures of Kirtipur

Top attractions in and around Kathmandu

Located on a hilltop, the sleepy town of Kirtipur reflects a faded grandeur of its glorious past. Dotted by impressive medieval temples, it is a hub of many historic treasures.

Due to a rich population of both Hindus and Buddhists, there are many Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples in Kirtipur. However, some temples like Chilancho Stupa and temple of Machindranath are worship sites for both religions. Some other prime attractions of Kirtipur are the Bagh Bhairav Temple, Uma Maheshwor temple, Dakshinkali Mata temple and Sulakshan Kirti Vihar and Deu Pukhu pond.

Besides its ancient relics, Kirtipur is also famous for its Newari cuisine. After exploring the landmarks and temples of the city, say goodbye to your hunger pangs at the Newari restaurants. Savor authentic Newari delicacies like Sapu Micha, Choila and Kwati.

Anyone who admires rich history, mythical stories, good food and medieval monuments will love Kirtipur undoubtedly.

2. Chitwan National Park

Top attractions in and around Kathmandu

Aptly named ‘Chitwan’, meaning ‘Heart of the Jungle’, the Chitwan National Park is hailed as one of the best wildlife viewing national parks of Asia. Set against a scenic backdrop of Himalayas, the park is surrounded by forested hills and Gandaki River, making it an area of exceptional natural beauty. Housing endangered flora and wildlife species like the one-horned rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal Tiger, it is one of the last surviving natural ecosystems of the Terai region. Rare bird species and animals like wild elephant, sloth bears, freshwater dolphins and leopards also inhabit the park.

To catch a glimpse of the wildlife, plan a longer visit. The dense jungle cover, tall grassland and the nocturnal hours make it a little hard to spot the animals. So wait patiently and in the meantime, enjoy the scenic view.

3. Boudhanath Stupa
Top attractions in and around Kathmandu

For centuries, the Boudhanath Stupa has stood as a symbol of Buddhist belief towering over Kathmandu. Located on the eastern outskirts of the city, it is the center of Tibetan culture in Nepal. It is widely believed to have been built in the 14th century, after the passing of Buddha. It became a focal point of religious worship and Buddhism after the Chinese invasion forced Tibet nationals to seek asylum in Kathmandu. According to a legend, the Stupa represents Mt. Meru that was considered to be the center of cosmos.

Symbolic of Tibetan Buddhism, the Stupa structure consists of a giant dome. A Buddhist pyramid tower sits atop this dome. The prime feature of the Stupa is the painted eyes of Lord Buddha on all four sides.  The eyes have been variably described as impassive, merciful and shrewd.

If you seek an intimate understanding of Tibetan heritage and symbolism, a visit to the Boudhanath Stupa is warranted.

4. Nagarkot

Top attractions in and around Kathmandu

Located on the northern fringe of Kathmandu valley, Nagarkot is a small hill station. The town is famous for its natural beauty and viewpoints. At the break of dawn, this rustic village exudes a warm aura and offers a sight to behold- the sun casting a scarlet hue over the Mount Everest.

Its scenic landscape coupled with an abundance of hiking trails and nature walks loops in many tourists throughout the year. The prime sightseeing months are between October and March.

To witness a stunning panoramic view of the Himalayas and Shivalik range, the Nagarkot View Tower is an ideal place to be. Embark on an early morning hike through thick pine forests to watch the sun casting a rich golden hue over the snow-capped Himalayas.

It gets very cold in Nagarkot, so pack your warmers while visiting.

5. Garden of Dreams

Top attractions in and around Kathmandu

This neo-classical modern historic garden in the city of Kathmandu is one of the most serene natural places of Nepal. Built by Field Marshall Kaiser Sumsher Rana, the Garden’s design is heavily influenced by the formal European gardens, especially with features like paved paths punctuated by pavilions and plantations, birdhouses and pergolas.

The garden structure had previously deteriorated after years of neglect, but was renovated by an Austrian financed team. Now enclosed within the garden walls are dozens of gorgeous details including a marble inscription from Omar Khayam’s Rubaiyat, fountains, ponds, and a ‘hidden garden’. However, out of the original six pavilions, each named after the Nepali seasons, only three remain.

Spend a pleasant time in this oasis of peace and calm in the urban chaos of Kathmandu city. The lush greenery of the garden is definitely a panacea for a weary soul. You will find many locals and tourists exploring the garden complex in the pleasant sunny weather or reading a book.

6. Kopan Monastery

Top attractions in and around Kathmandu

Located north of Boudhanath on the Kopan hill is the famous Kopan monastery. Established by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1959, the monastery follows the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. The premises enclose rich gardens and an imposing Gompa lending a unique charm to the monastery.

The Kopan Monastery is famous among Western foreigners for its teachings on Buddhism and meditation courses. The meditation courses are often coupled with traditional Lam Rim teachings.

For tourists and locals, the monastery is only opened on Saturdays. Stroll around the premises to appreciate its charm and architectural beauty. Take a ritual walk around stupas and turn the prayers wheels to gather the essence of Buddhism. Relax and meditate in the lush gardens and enjoy the scenic view of the Kathmandu Valley. If you look harder, you may spot the iconic Boudhanath Stupa in the distance.

7. Pashupatinath Temple

Top attractions in and around Kathmandu

Regarded as the most significant Hindu temple in Nepal, the Pashupatinath Temple lies on the banks of holy Bagmati River. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. First built in the 5th century, it was later renovated by Malla kings and is considered as a masterpiece of Hindu architecture.

The main temple exhibits Nepalese Pagoda architecture and is enclosed by a bunk roof and gold spire. All four doors of this cubic structure are covered in silver sheets. A huge golden statue of Nandi in the temple complex commands attention. The wooden sculptures of the temple are believed to make the devotees’ wishes come true. Try your luck and see if your wish comes true!

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Are you ready to explore this cultural hub of Nepal? Let us know in the comments below.Bon Voyage!


About Garusha Katoch

A journalist by education, a writer by passion and a film buff by night. When I am not offering an insight into the many treasure troves of your favorite travel destinations, I like to get my dose of Truffaut and Resnais. You can catch me in quaint cafes finishing my latest book or transforming every thing that happens in a moment into ink.