It is a busy day with the jam-packed schedule. We will visit four UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites of Kathmandu namely, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath temple, Boudhanath stupa and Swoyambhunath stupa.
Kathmandu Durbar Square: It is a historical site of the country which covers five acres of land at the center of Kathmandu. The entire site is divided into two parts—inner and outer. The inner part consists of Hanuman Dhoka Palace which is one of the prime sites to visit. The statue of Hanuman (monkey god) is placed in front of the main entrance of the Palace. King Pratap Malla erected a statue of Hanuman here in the 17th century with the belief that the god will keep all evils outside the palace. He also built Sundari and Mohan Chowk on the north of the palace.
According to stone scriptures, Kathmandu Durbar Square was the administrative center for Lichhavi Kings. They built palaces and temples here in the 3rd century but no remains of it are found yet. The major developments of the site took place in the time of Ratna Malla in 1484. He turned the existing palaces into Royal Palace. Since then many temples and palaces were built here by different Malla and Shah Kings.
There are many things to observe in the outer part of the area such as Kasthamandap, Shiva-Parvati temple, Kumari Ghar and many more. Kasthamandap enshrines Gorakhnath (Lord Shiva in the form of cow protecting god). King Laxmi Narasingha Malla built it in the 16th century by using woods of a single tree. It was built in Pagoda style. This temple was completely destroyed by the quake of 25th April 2015. The name Kathmandu was derived from this very temple—Kasthamandap.
Kumari Ghar (house) is another major attraction of this place as the living goddess—Kumari lives here. This house is also severely damaged by the quake and is in the reconstruction process. Kumari is regarded as a living form of Taleju Bhawani (Durga).
There are many other things to see here. It is truly a historical site with the cultural outlook of Nepal. It is a center of Newar culture.
Pashupatinath temple: Pashupatinath is located on the east from Kathmandu Durbar Square. It is a sacred site for Hindu where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Linga. The Linga is a stone of around three and a half feet cylindrical black colored stone where the face of Lord Shiva is carved in four sides. There are temples of many other god and goddess in this area.
Bouddhanath Stupa: Bouddhanath stupa is one of the largest stupas of South Asia. It is built in octagonal mandala structure. The entire stupa is surrounded by the brick wall. The color of the stupa is completely white. A dome-like structure is made on the octagonal base where people walk in clockwise direction reciting mantras.
The prayer wheels, butter lamps and prayer flags in the site are really pleasant. There are more than 50 monasteries in Bouddhanath area dedicated to Lord Buddha. The site gives the glimpse of Tibet so it is also regarded as mini Tibet. It is said that the stupa was built by Lichhavi King called Shiva Dev in 590 AD but it is not proved it.
Swoyambhunath stupa: Like Bouddhanath Swoyambhunath is also regarded as the prime site for Buddhist. It is a place where hundred thousand people around the world visit every year. The site is located on the west from Kathmandu. Swoyambhunath is situated at a hillock. It is a dome-shaped structure with the eyes of Buddha in all four directions at top of the dome. Swoyambhunath is also known as Monkey Temple because a lot of monkeys live here.
‘Self-Existing’ is the meaning of Swoyambhu. It is said that this stupa used to be here even then when this entire valley was logged with water forming a huge lake. Later Manjushree arrived here and saw a beautiful lotus with many petals. Manjushree was moved by the lotus and he determined to settle village in this place. He cut the gorge at Chovar making the passage for water flow. Since then people started living here.
Here ends our Kathmandu sightseeing today and we get back to the hotel. It is also a day for trek preparation. We will introduce you to our trekking guide who will be with you for next nine days. Overnight in a hotel.