Kathmandu, Nepal

School Children Kathmandu Nepal
School Children - Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal (2/21-24/2013) – Kathmandu is an interesting experience once you get past the overwhelming main streets of this developing-world city.

Streets Kathmandu Nepal
Streets of Kathmandu, Nepal
For many people, stepping off a plane and venturing into Kathmandu is somewhat of a shock. The sights, crazy horn honking polluted traffic, and smells can lead to sensory overload. Beyond the main streets, we found much of Kathmandu interesting (and at times a bit exhausting) visiting peaceful ancient temple complexes, fun to explore neighborhoods, beautiful landscapes, and with a bit of low-key bargaining having value-oriented shopping.

Napalese Men Kathmandu nepal
Napalese Men - Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the capital and the only metropolitan city of Nepal with about 2.5 million inhabitants in the area. Spanning nearly 2,000 years, Kathmandu has a rich history dating back to the past Silk Road trade linking India and Tibet. Most of the people are Hindu while many others follow Buddhism.

Women Bhaktapur Dubar Square  Nepal
Women at Bhaktapur Dubar Square - Nepal
On the surface, Kathmandu feels like another developing-world city hurrying into the modern era of concrete and traffic pollution. However, take a walk in the backstreets and the Kathmandu’s amazing cultural and artistic heritage reveals itself in hidden temples with orange marigolds, interesting winding narrow streets, and small workshops largely unchanged since the Middle Ages.
Boudha Kathmandu Nepal
Boudha - Kathmandu, Nepal

Wayne Buddhist Monk at Boudha Kathmandu Nepal
Wayne with Buddhist Monk at Boudha 
- Kathmandu, Nepal
One our favorite places we visited in Kathmandu was Boudha (also called Boudhanath) just out of the city north of the airport. It is one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Buddhist Stupa, one of the largest in the world, dominates the skyline. Large numbers of Buddhist refugees from Tibet have built over 50 Tibetan Monasteries (Gompas) around Boudha creating a beautiful quiet haven of a car-free community of Nepal meets Tibet. Boudha is surrounded with interesting shops and guesthouses (see photo). For a quiet refuse from the chaotic city, this would be a nice place to stay. Because Boudha is the focal point for Buddhists in Nepal, you’ll see many monks going about their daily lives here and tourists are welcomed into the monastery.

Thamel Kathmandu Nepal
Thamel - Kathmandu, Nepal
Another fun neighborhood in Kathmandu to explore is Thamel located next to Kathmandu’s richest street, King’s Way. Clustered along a few narrow streets, Thamel is filled with small rooftop restaurants, nightlife clubs, guesthouses, and shops selling most everything. This area has many good restaurants and although prices are higher (still good by western standards), food hygiene is generally better here. For the adventurous budget-oriented traveler, Thamel would be a fun place to stay while exploring Kathmandu with lots to do at night.

Durbar Square Kathmanudu Nepal
Durbar Square - Kathmanudu, Nepal
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is also interesting. It is a complex of 50 temples located in the old city and was built over centuries representing four former kingdoms. The city of Kathmandu was named after the unique temple Kasthamandap (also known as Maru Satal) built in 1596. The two-story structure is made entirely of wood using no nails or supports. According to legend, all the wood used to build it was from a single tree.

Pat dunlap Basantapur Roof Top Restaurant Nepal
Pat at Basantapur Roof-Top 
Restaurant - Nepal
School Children Bhaktapur Durbar Square Nepal
School Children at 
 Bhaktapur Durbar Square - Nepal
Kathmandu has plenty of UNSECO World Heritage Sites that are interesting to explore. Lu Dhowka (The Golden Gate) located at Basantapur is said to be the most beautiful specimen of its kind in the entire world.

We liked our visit to Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Nepal's most perfectly preserved old city with much of it dating back to medieval times. These have rooftop Nepalese restaurants where you can have lunch and have fun people watching in the square below. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is unique being both a tourist hotspot and a popular meeting place for the locals. It is also home to the Living Goddess, or Kumari, as she is more commonly known. She is a young girl that is revered by the Nepalese.

Pashupatinath Temple Nepal
Pashupatinath Temple - Nepal
Situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, the Hindu pilgrimage site of the Pashupatinath Temple (see photo) is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva (one of the 3 major gods in Hinduism) in the world. It is one of Nepal’s oldest and holiest places of worship often likened to Varanasi on India’s Ganges River. The Pashupatinath Temple takes you back in time with its exotic temples, active cremation ghats, ritual bathers, and charismatic holy men.

Hindu Sadhu Men Pashupatinath Temple  Nepal
Hindu Sadhu Men  
at Pashupatinath Temple - Nepal
We saw Hindu holy Sadhu men (see photo). Sadhus are wandering monks often wearing saffron-colored clothing or no clothing at all giving up all worldly possessions. They are widely respected for their holiness and solely dedicated to achieving liberation through meditation and contemplation.

Pat Finding Bargains at Boudha Kathmandu Nepal
Pat Finding Bargains 
at Boudha - Kathmandu, Nepal
Local food in Nepal... Dal bhat, which is a dish of lentils and rice, is a popular dish served with vegetable curries. Having its roots in the Tibetan mountains, another popular food in Kathmandu is Momo, a dumpling much like a pot sticker. Try Momos fried or steamed stuffed with meat or veggies.

Wayne dunlap Taking Buddha Air airplane to Mount Everest  Nepal
Wayne Taking Buddha Air Airline
to Mount Everest - Nepal
Mount Everest  Our Flight Out Kathmandu Nepal
Mount Everest from Our Flight Out 
- Kathmandu, Nepal
About Nepal... Nepal is a landlocked nation located between India and China with a population of about 28 million. Nepal is famous for being the home of the Himalayan Mountains and the highest place on Earth, Mount Everest (amazing 29,029 feet). Many more of the world’s highest peaks are located in Nepal’s Himalayan Range making it a haven of mountain climbers. We twice attempted the flight to Mount Everest on none other than Buddha Air. Unfortunately, each day the mountain was too cloudy and our flights were canceled.

Village Children Nepal
Village Children - Nepal
Terraced Hills Nepal Countryside
Terraced Hills of Nepal Countryside

Nepal is the ultimate destination for the trekking enthusiast offering a large number of possibilities from short and easy walking treks passing through picturesque villages to the demanding challenges of climbing many of the tallest mountains in the world. We took a short ‘trek’ in the hills above Kathmandu (see photo). We met a young woman from Australia who did the trek to Mount Everest’s base came (17,598 feet high). It took her a week to do it.

Wayne dunlap Meets New Friend Boudha Kathmandu Nepal
Wayne Meets New Friend at Boudha 
- Kathmandu, Nepal
Hinduism is practiced by about 80% of the people, making Nepal the country with the highest percentage of Hindu followers. Also, Buddhism is linked historically with Nepal (birthplace of Buddha) and is practiced by about 10%. Politically, Nepal is starting to stabilize and foreign investment is beginning to occur. With the very rapid growth in Kathmandu, infrastructure is lagging behind. It is not uncommon for electrical blackouts to occur in the evening.

Bus in Napal Countryside
Bus in Napal's Countryside
Some history... Nepal was ruled as a monarchy for most its history. A 10-year long civil involving the Communist Party led to democratic elections taking place in 2008. The political situation is stabilizing with more tourism happening again.


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