KATHMANDU CITY

 

ABOUT KATHMANDU CITY

Kathmandu is an incredibly diverse historic city with breathtaking Newari architecture, centuries old Hindu and Buddhist religious sites along with dedicated tourist-friendly accommodations and restaurants. Stepping into Kathmandu is like stepping into another world that everybody should experience at least once in their lifetime.

Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions rub shoulders with the latest technology. The grandeur of the past enchants the visitor whose gaze may linger on an exquisitely carved wooden window frame, an 18th century bronze sculpture or a spiritually uplifting stupa. Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal, is the political as well as cultural capital of the country.

Like any big city, Kathmandu has seen rapid expansion in the last decade, but despite the hustle and bustle so typical of metropolitan cities, its people remain refreshingly friendly. The city is a warden of its ancestral value  “Atithi Devo Bhava” meaning “Guest is equivalent to God”.

Retaining its ancient traditions, Kathmandu is blessed by Living Goddess Kumari and is enriched by endless ceremonial processions and events that take to the streets every now and then with throngs of devotees seeking joy in spiritual celebrations. These religious festivals are steeped in legends and are quite a spectacle with chariot processions and masked dancers often possessed by the spirits of deities.

Kathmandu is a result of diverse culture and lifestyle, a long history of faith and beliefs, and of arts and architecture. Therefore, more than just a city, Kathmandu is a living museum, it is an opportunity to travel back in time and to relive in the history.

LIVING GODDESS KUMARI

Want to experience divinity in real life? Welcome to Nepal, the land of living gods and goddesses. Kumari is derived from the Sanskrit word Kaumarya, which means princess. Learn the historical significance of worshiping a girl as a goddess; be a part of the tradition that dates back to the 17th century where two of the world’s oldest religions Hinduism and Buddhism interlink.

As the selection process of a Kumari resembles that of Tibetan Lamas, like the Panchen Lama or the Dalai Lama. Visit the Kumari Ghar, situated at Basantapur, where the goddess resides and to get a glimpse of the goddess.

If you are visiting around late August or early September, then be sure to be a part of the biggest and most vibrant festival in Nepal called Indra Jatra, where the Kumari, is paraded across the city, in her golden palanquin. It is quite a sight to behold, as hundreds of  masked men and devotees dance to traditional Newari music and pull on the chariots of the Lord Indra and Kumari.

PASHUPATINATH TEMPLE

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. Built in the 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings, the site itself is said to have existed from the beginning of the millennium when a Shiva lingam was discovered here.

The largest temple complex in Nepal, it stretches on both sides of the Bagmati River which is considered holy by Hindus.  The main pagoda style temple has a gilded roof, four sides covered in silver, and wood carvings of the finest quality. Temples dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surround the temple of Pashupatinath.

Nearby is the temple of Guheshwori dedicated to Shiva’s consort Sati Devi. Cremation of Hindus take place on raised platforms along the river. Only Hindus are allowed inside the gates of the main temple. The inner sanctum has a Shiva lingam and outside sits the largest statue of Nandi the bull, the vehicle of Shiva. There are hundreds of Shiva lingam within the compound. The big Maha Shivaratri festival in spring attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees from within Nepal and from India.

Experience this highly recommended religious hub for a mix of religious, cultural and spiritual experiences. Located 3 km northwest of Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati River, the temple area also includes Deupatan, Jaya Bageshori, Gaurighat (Holy Bath), Kutumbahal, Gaushala, Pingalasthan and Sleshmantak forest. There are around 492 temples, 15 Shivalayas (shrines of Lord Shiva) and 12 Jyotirlinga (phallic shrines) to explore.

Pashupatinath Temple is one of the 8 UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley.  It is also a cremation site where the last rites of Hindus are performed. The site and events at cremation is not for the faint hearted; still visitors are seen watching curiously from across the river from the hill. Visit Pashupatinath Temple for an out-of-this-world experience.

Daily Rituals at Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath is also one of the very few living cultural heritage sites in the world. Unlike other cultural sites or museums, Pashupatinath is centre of energy with active participation of people all times of the day, every day. The daily rituals of Pashupatinath Temple are as follows:

  • 4:00 am: West gate opens for visitors.
  • 8:30 am: After arrival of Pujaris, the idols of the Lord are bathed and cleaned, clothes and jewelry are changed for the day.
  • 9:30 am: Baal Bhog or breakfast is offered to the Lord.
  • 10:00 am: Then people who want to do Puja are welcomed to do so. It is also called Farmayishi Puja, whereby people tell the Pujari to carry out a special Puja for their specified reasons. The Puja continues till 1:45 pm in the afternoon.
  • 1:50 pm: Lunch is offered to the Lord in the main Pashupati Temple.
  • 2:00 pm: Morning prayers end.
  • 5:15 pm: The evening Aarati at the main Pashupati Temple begins.
  • 6:00 pm onward: Recently the Bagmati Ganga Aarati; done by the shores of Bagmati, has been gaining lots of popularity. We can see the shores of Bagmati crowded mostly on Saturdays, Mondays and on special occasions. Ganga Aarati along with Shiva’s Tandava Bhajan, written by Ravana, is carried out on evening Ganga Aarati.
  • 7:00 pm: Door is closed.

Apart from the daily rituals, special observed are plotted  during  special dates of the lunar calendar.

BUDHANILKANTHA TEMPLE

Visit the holy Budhanilkantha Temple to offer prayers at one of the most loved Vishnu temples of the valley. Observe the intricate artwork that went into the sculpting of the magnificent 5th century of image of the sleeping Vishnu almost alike in features to the Buddha. You could combine the trip with visit to the Shivapuri National Park just above it. Transportation options are aplenty, but you could also bike all the way to Budhanilkantha and hike onward.

Budhanilkantha, situated at the foot of the Shivpuri Hills in the northern-most part of the Kathmandu Valley, is about 8 km from the city. The shrine with probably the largest stone statue of Lord Vishnu in Nepal is reclining on a bed of Nagas or serpents in the middle of a small pond. The 5-m long granite image carved out of a single rock dates back to the Lichchhavi period.

According to folklore, a farmer was working on his field one day when his plough struck a boulder, and to his surprise and alarm, blood started oozing out of the cut in the stone. Upon digging around the huge boulder, he unearthed the magnificent image of the reclining Vishnu that had remained buried in the ground. A big mela (fair) is held at Budhanilkantha on the auspicious two main Ekadashis, Harishayani and Haribodhinimarking the 4-month period when Lord Vishnu is believed to retire to sleep.

BOUDHANATH STUPA

Take an early morning or evening stroll around the inspiring white dome buzzing with energy; observe the devout passersby, light a butter lamp and send a prayer where you wish, look around for souvenirs, or observe all from a nearby rooftop restaurant, coffee in hand.
Situated 8 km to

the east of downtown Kathmandu, Boudhanath,is one of the most imposing landmarks in Kathmandu visible as soon as you land at the Tribhuvan International Airport. It is the largest stupa in the Kathmandu Valley.
The 36-meter-high stupa of Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in South Asia. With countless monasteries surrounding it, Boudhanath is the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.
Built in the shape of a mandala designed to replicate the Gyangtse of Tibet, the stupa was renovated by Licchhavi rulers in the 8th century. The location of the stupa is interesting as it once lay on the ancient trade route to Tibet and it was here that Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for centuries.
On each side are a pair of the all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha symbolizing awareness. The canopy has 13 stages. At ground level there is a brick wall with 147 niches and 108 images of the meditational Buddha inset behind copper prayer wheels.

SWAYAMBHUNATH STUPA

Find peace and prayers on the little hillock of Swaymbhunath in the northwest of the Kathmandu Valley. Also known as the “Monkey Temple” among visitors from abroad, Swayambhunath sits atop its hill, overlooking most parts of the valley. This is a good place to catch panoramic views of the city. The site itself has stood as a hallmark of faith and harmony for centuries. The glory of Kathmandu Valley is said to have started from this point.
Resting on a hillock 3 km west of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath is one of the holiest Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal. It is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than 2,000 years ago. This stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises. Swayambhu literally means “self-existent one”. According to translations from an inscription dating back to 460 A.D., it was built by King Manadeva and by the 13th century, Swayambhunath had developed into an important center of Buddhism.
Legend has it that Swayambhu was born out of a lotus flower that bloomed in the middle of a lake that once spread across the Kathmandu Valley once was. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal sits on a pedestal on the western boundary of Swayambhu. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri or Saraswati – the Goddess of learning. Chaityas, statues and shrines of Buddhist and Hindu deities fill the stupa complex. The base of the hill is almost entirely surrounded by prayer wheels that were recently installed. Devotees can be seen circumambulating the stupa at all times.The stupa sits atop the hill and the exceedingly steep stone steps leading up to the shrine is quite a challenge. However, there is also a road going up almost to the top and you can drive up. A large number of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit Swayambhunath through out the day. Swayambhu is perhaps the best place to observe religious harmony in Nepal.

Some important monuments to see in this area:

  • The huge gold plated Vajra ‘thunderbolt’ set in the east side of the stupa
  • Buddha statue on the west side of Swayambhu
  • The Sleeping Buddha
  • The Dewa Dharma Monastery, noted for a bronze icon of Buddha and traditional Tibetan paintings
  • The temple dedicated to Harati, the goddess of all children. It is said that she was an ogress before Lord Buddha converted her to be the caretaker of all children.

KAPAN MONASTERY

One of the most popular monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism is the Kapan Monastery which is perched on a hill not far north of Boudha. Each year a large number of foreigners arrive here to study Buddhism and meditation. Kapan Monastery was founded by Lama Thubten Yeshe who died in 1984. Interestingly, a small Spanish boy named Osel Torres became his successor after he was declared a reincarnation of the great Lama. However, the reincarnation does not reside at Kapan anymore.

The spiritual program at Kapan offers introductory level courses in what is known as the Discover Buddhism series, dealing with the basic principles of Tibetan Buddhism and meditation. The series known as the Next Step series, leads on to a deeper exploration of these principles.

Courses deal with Mind Training, Karma, Death and Dying, Bodhicitta, and more. There are 5-day and 10-day courses and a month long course on meditation. There are also short courses on Tibetan medicine, Thangka painting and the very popular 10-day residential courses in Buddhist psychology and philosophy. Courses vary in length and some students spend months at the monastery devoted to their studies. In the past many were housed in tents due to lack of space but now there are enough rooms to accommodate them.

There is a sealed road all the way to the monastery but it is also a pleasant hike from Boudha. People from many different Nepali ethnic groups also join the monastery as young boys to become monks. These young lads get formal education in math, science and other subjects just as their contemporaries in local schools. Kids can join at a tender age and are mostly from families who traditionally send one child to become a monk or a nun.

Kapan Monastery was once open to visitors all week but with too many visitors arriving, entrance has been restricted.  There is a library and a large garden with solar lights that light for evenings. A proper restaurant with great views of Kathmandu down below is open to all and serves good meals. During special pujas, large crowds of devotees climb up to the monastery to receive blessings and pay homage.

Having reached Kopan Monastery, you might as well walk along the ridge and visit the Phulhari Monastery which sits on a hill higher than Kapan. The hike takes less than an hour. In between the two is the Vajrayan Monastery. Phulhari is worth a visit for the amazing Thangka paintings that adorn the entire facade and the interiors of the halls. The building was designed by an American architect /Buddhist monk who has combined the best of eastern and western architecture. Even the paintings lean towards more pastel colors rather than the bright colors usually associated with Tibetan Buddhism.

GETTING THERE

There are two routes to Kapan Monastery. The usual route is through Chabahil and it turns left at Chuchepati where there is a statue of Pasang Lhamu the first Nepali female to climb Everest. The other route follows the Ring Road after Chabahil and goes past the Gopi Krishna Radha Cinema Hall. There are buses up to the base of the hill on top of which the monastery is perched. Taxis can be hired from the city. Other alternatives are to hire a motorcycle, mountain bike or just simply walk all the way. Hikes can begin at Boudha and can be combined with the Gokarna hike or even the Shivapuri hike. Walking from the east side of the stupa, the road goes through Phulbari and meets the road coming from Chuchepati. Then it’s downhill and the monastery comes into view.

GUHYESHWARI TEMPLE

Guhyeshwari Temple is an important pilgrimage destination for the Hindus as well as the Buddhists. Located around one kilometer east of the main Pashupatinath Temple, it is one of the most important temples within the Pashupatinath area. Recognized as a Shakti (power) Peetha, it is considered as a symbol of power. It is believed that a body part of Sati Devi (wife of Lord Shiva) fell after her death at the very place where the temple is now located. This temple was built by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century.

Pashupatinath and Guhyeshwari are beautiful representations of the Shiva and Shakti unity. Located at the banks of River Bagmati, the temple portrays the female side of the divine. Guhyeshwari is also known for its Tantrik rituals (esoteric tradition of Hinduism). It is believed that people who want to gain strength visit this temple to worship Mother Goddess.

The pagoda-style temple has a distinct interior. Instead of a standing figure of the Goddess, it has a flat figure parallel to the ground that is worshipped by bowing down. Next to the divine figure is a pond, the Bhairav Kunda. Devotees put their hand inside the pond and whatever they get is considered holy and is accepted as a blessing from the divine.

The Newar community performs various Puja at Guhyeshwari Temple. Newari Bhoj (feast) is also held at the temple during festivals. Newar Bajracharya Buddhists worship Guhyeshwari as Vajrayogini. This temple has great value to Hindus as well as the Buddhists. During the first 10 days of Dashain (Navaratri), the main festival of the Hindus, devotees from all over Kathmandu come to worship Goddess Guhyeshwari. A lot of importance is placed in visiting this temple during this time. Statues of different forms of Durga (Hindu Goddess) are placed around Guhyeshwari Temple during this time.

While visiting these temples, the Guhyeshwari Temple is visited before the main Pashupatinath Temple. This tradition is still followed by members of the earlier Royal family. The Guhyeshwari Temple is worshipped first and then other temples are visited. It is because of the belief of worshipping Shakti before Shiva.

Guhyeshwari Yatra is a festival, which is a tour that starts from Guhyeshwari following Pashupatinath Temple and ends at Hanuman Dhoka, Basantapur. This tradition has been prevalent since a long time.

Surrounded by the vast forest and different monuments, Guhyeshwari Temple holds many myths. The surrounding of this holy temple is peaceful yet powerful. The aura you get while visiting here is strong and vibrant. People come here with hope and dedication towards the divine. Devotees surrender their problems and feel hopeful.

DOLESHWAR MAHADEV

Doleshwar Mahadev Temple, which lies in Bhaktapur district of Nepal, is 20 km from the capital city of Kathmandu. It is an approximately of 30 minutes drive from Kathmandu to Doleshwar. For all the Shiva devotees, it is believed that the trip to Kedarnath is incomplete without visiting Doleshwar Mahadeva and Pashupatinath. The visit to all these three holy places is believed to wash off all the sins of one’s lifetime and an opportunity of receiving holy blessings from Lord Shiva.

On Aug. 22, 2009, the Doleshwar Mahadev was officially declared as the head of Kedarnath, one of the Char Dham Yatra, by Shree 1008 Jagat Guru Bheemashaankarling Shivacharya, the head priest of Kedarnath. The relation between Kedarnath and Doleshwar was unknown to the general public for the last 4,000 years.

Looking back at the history of Doleshwar Mahadev, it is believed that Pandav brothers, after the Mahabharata of Kurushetra, left for the Himalayas in search of forgiveness from Lord Shiva for the killing of many people during the war. But as Lord Shiva was not willing to forgive them he disguised in the form of bull. Having known about Lord Shiva’s disguise as the bull that was about to flee, Pandavas caught the tail of the bull and in this time, the head of bull got separated from the rest of the body. It is believed that the remaining body is in Kedarnath in the Uttharkhand of India, and that people have been searching for the head part since then.

In the year 2013, after the devastating flood hit the temple of Kedarnath, situated in Uttarkhand, the regular prayers that were interrupted were carried out in Doleshwar Temple. The head priest of Kedarnath Temple requested regular prayers that used to be held in the Kedarnath Temple to be held in the Doleshwar Mahadev Temple.

KATHMANDU VALLEY

Discover ancient temples and myths in the valley of gods where Hinduism and Buddhism meet.

Smell and eat traditional Newari food cooked on wood ovens while you are strolling through the small little alleys around the “durbar squares” in one of the ancient king cities of the Kathmandu Valley; Bhaktapur, Patan or Kathmandu.

Buy handicrafs from artisans that still work according to centuries-old traditions. Or try if you are talented yourself in one of the many workshops that are available

Watch how the people of the valley still use their temples to practice rituals that have been passed from generation to generation. Discover the temples of the valley, learn more about the rituals of the people of Nepal.

Visit 7 monuments of UNESCO World Heritage Site Kathmandu in 48 hours.

There is a famous folk story that narrates the establishment of the Kathmandu Valley. Long ago, during the Pleistocene era, Kathmandu Valley was merely a lake – a beautiful exhibition of aquatic flora and fauna. Around the same era, when Manjushree, a holy Buddhist Saint from Tibet, saw a beautiful lotus flower floating in the center of the lake, boundless admiration started to flame inside his heart, which evoked his devotion to hold and worship the flower.

He, then, cut the Chobar Hill; that ‘cut’ turned into a deep gorge, letting lake water drain out, and leaving a fertile, and pious land for human settlement. Later the settlement became a well-known terminal for diverse individuals; for devotees (both Hindus and Buddhists), Tibetan and Indian merchants, artisans, emperors, explorers, historians, hippies, according to the respective eras, and – now – for tourists from all around the world.

The Kathmandu Valley has always been a melting pot for various cultures, religions, and arts and crafts. The Gopala and Kirat dynasties ruled at the earliest periods, followed by the Licchavi (300-879 AD), who, correspondingly, decorated the city with a passion, traditional art, and religious belief.

For such reasons, till this date one can experience the authenticity of the valley, its cultural and religious harmony; the varieties of temples of Hinduism and Buddhism that are standing next to each other for centuries, diverse ethnicities, colorful festivals, and celebration, but just within a walking distance, which is, perhaps, the most beautiful highlight of the city.

The Kathmandu Valley envelops three glorious cities – Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, which were once independent states ruled by the Malla kings, who ruled the cities from the 12th to the 18th centuries and decorated their individual kingdom with exotic craftsmanship and palaces. Back then, the mighty Mongol rulers would import craftsmen from the Kathmandu Valley to decorate their empire.

That is to say, the famous Pagoda architecture is a gift from the Kathmandu Valley to the China. Now the Kathmandu Valley is home to seven sites which make the valley a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site, and also home to hundreds of other exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic temples and magnificent art – reminders of the golden era in Nepal’s architecture.

Dhulikhel Mountain Resort

Offering a perfect blend of luxury and comfort, Dhulikhel Mountain Resort presents unparalleled luxury with a touch of tradition. Dhulikhel Mountain Resort  is about escaping the everyday and savoring every moment. Featuring plush accommodation in the lap of Himalaya, our efforts are focused on providing guests a holiday to be treasured and facilitate whatever depth and nature of experience you seek. Your intentions become ours.
Rich experiences. Warmth that enchants. Established in 1981, Dhulikhel Mountain Resort  draws on its proud history, charismatic character and heartfelt services. Nestled in the lap of Himalayas, the resort rests on 20 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and is back-dropped by the breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas. Designed with an ethnic theme, the beautifully refurbished cottages reflect Nepali traditional village architecture.

Key Dates for the event!!!

Early Bird Registration  Deadline:  31 January 2018

Regular Registration Deadline:  31 July 2018

Abstract Submission Deadline: 30 June 2018.

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