Want to visit Nepal? You Kathmandu it!
There are some places in the world that will take your breath away. Nepal is one of them. Stepping off the plane into this land of snow-crested mountain tops and hillside villages is an experience you’re unlikely to ever forget. It is a country that can feel like the joining of strange opposites; a natural meeting ground of both low marshy grasslands and the highest peak on Earth. The mystic mountains of the Himalayas preserve Nepal’s magic. Passing over them on the slow descent into Kathmandu is an awe-inspiring spectacle – a testament to natural beauty. Before your plane has even landed, you will have begun to understand that you are in a place like no other.
Though it is a nation of only 30 million people, it sees on average 600,000 visitors a year, making it anything but small. Eight of the 10 tallest mountains in the world, including the overwhelming Mount Everest (all 29,029 ft of it) can be found here. It is also host to man-made wonders like the Boudhanath Stupa temple, one of the oldest and most highly prized Tibetan Buddhist sites outside of Tibet, and the Kingdom of Nepal’s seat of power, the Narayanhiti Palace. Geographically located at the country’s center is Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. It is Nepal’s cultural and economic heart, rife with temples, shops, and flower stands. If you’re going to take a tour of Nepal, Kathmandu deserves your exploration.
Going to Kathmandu
For much of its early history, Nepal was split between three feuding Newar kingdoms. It wasn’t until 1768 – after many years of conquest – that Prithvi Narayan Shah united the country under a single banner. It has been described that Shah’s aim was to conquer Kathmandu. He snuck into the city on a night when everyone was celebrating the Indra Jatra (a religious street festival) just a bit too enthusiastically. Shah went on to make Kathmandu his capital. His dynasty ruled Nepal until 2008, when the country voted to become a democratic republic. Now the Nepalese kings’ old durbar, which means “palace” in Nepali, is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
There is so much you can do in Kathmandu. Exploring its one of a kind temples and hidden-away shops is but a fraction of the city’s potential. Consider taking a walk down its back streets, where a culture inspired by the dual influences of India and China reveals itself in courtyard gardens and roadside shrines. When you’ve seen all you can see, leave the city for a journey up into the Himalayas or a visit to the spectacular vistas of Pokhara. This hidden kingdom retains the spirit of a world forgotten. A tour of Nepal is your chance to reclaim a part of that world.