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Kathmandu Valley is not only surrounded by green hills and rivulets all around, but is also treasured with seven World Heritage Sites just with a radius of 20 kilometers, namely the three queen cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, and the temple squares of Swoyambhu, Pashupati, Boudha and Changu Narayan. Each of them are amazing cultural sites to see and to experience the tolerance of Buddhists and Hindus co-existing together in harmony. The Kathmandu valley is a living museum of natural and cultural wonders with a mosaic of over 100 ethnic tribes.
Kathmandu has its palace squares surrounded by the famous Kasthamandap (a wooden resthouse from where the name Kathmandu is derived), the house of Living Goddess, Monkey Gate to the palace and the concentration of many Hindu temples and Buddhist chortens, monasteries etc. The congregations of 8 resplendent casinos in the five star hotels in the valley provide nightly entertain to visiting guests, as they are off-limit for Nepalese.
The serenity of Boudhanath, one of the world’s largest stupa and ageing over 2,000 years, is where all the Buddhist, lot of Tibetan refugees, the tourists and other peace lovers congregate to pray for peace, non-violence and witness the prayers being rotated: “Om Mani Padme Hum”. A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must to feel the flavor of Nepalese Buddhism.
Swoyambhu stupa of pre-historic origin is another world heritage site on a hill top, from where the all seeing eyes of Buddha gaze over the valley, attracts a lot of monkeys and remind people of their evil doing to follow the righteous path of Nirvana, the eternal peace.
To seek peace and freshness of nature, away from the crowds of the metropolitan city life, people and the tourist alike visit the nearby hill resorts of Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, Kakani around the ridge of the valley rim and travel to Pokhara the nearest lake district, 205 kms west of the capital, which are the vantage points for viewing the mesmerizing great Himalayan panorama.
The medieval city of Bhaktapur to the east of the airport is a favorite place of German Chancellor Henry Lubke who caused to renovate the temples and streets to the present resplendent state. The temple architecture, fine wood carvings, stone and bronze sculptures, and above all the fine metal works of Golden Gate of the Palace complex is compared with the Giberty of Florence in Italy. The people of Bhaktapur present a distinctive homogenous character with ladies wrapped in black and red saries, men bedecked with black Bhaktapur cap and walking along the clean streets, watching the daily chores of the city dwellers, pottery works in motion, innumerable festivities that the local people enjoy along the streets and temple squares are great sights indeed for a day-long sojourn. The city is full of cafes serving western pizzas of native momos with the home brewed Rakshi and the famous king yogurt. The experience can be adventurous and a most memorable treasure in life.
The charms of Patan, or Lalitpur- a city of fine arts is to be experienced than told in thousand words. Fine craftsmanship in metal, wood, brick and stones produced in Patan is sold worldwide, including the recent world expo in Shanghai, China.
The city of Patan, surrounded in four cardinal points by the stupas built by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BC, is where the highest number of Buddhist monasteries, squares and deep spring water spouts are located. The Golden Buddha temple, the temple of million Buddha, Hiranya Varna Maha-vihar are some of the most visit sites of Patan. The Durbar (palace) square here is described as the most photogenic architectural center in the valley.
The first seat of Buddhism in the valley, the city’s prime location with the charms of excellent view of the great Himalayan panorama has attracted most foreigners to dwell here like the first dwellers in the valley in ancient times.