• While strolling in the maze of Kathmandu's small lanes, you can easily imagine what a town would have been like in the Middle Ages. Considered as the
    Alex Lapuerta Mediavilla / 123RF
  • Kathmandu is the religious and political capital of Nepal.
    Alex Lapuerta Mediavilla / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Nepal

While strolling in the maze of Kathmandu's small lanes, you can easily imagine what a town would have been like in the Middle Ages. Considered as the "Florence of Asia" for a long time, it conceals innumerable architectural treasures. Buy the "Kathmandu from the Sky" city map, it is the most detailed. The Old City starts at Durbar Square, much like an open air museum where the virtuosity of the Newar art is palpable. A profusion of pagoda-temples, monasteries and houses decorated with wood lace surround the old Royal palace. Visit the house of Kumari, where the "living goddess" lives, a young girl who is the incarnation of Kali, Nepal's protector deity. A gem in Kathmandu - the royal sanctuary of Taleju, with three levels of roofs, overlooks all other buildings from its height of 130 feet. You should also see: Nasal Devata and Bhimsen temple, both founded in the 17th century. As for the temples of Shiva and Parvati, built at the end of the 18th century, they are pure master pieces of classical architecture: statues of the gods bend over at the window as if they were watching the bustle of the street... The old Newar areas are the liveliest and most colourful in Kathmandu: you will discover Seto Machendranath temple (15th century), dedicated both to Buddhist and Hinduist worship. Its pagoda is one of the most elegant in Nepal. Then you will stroll on Asan Tole market, letting yourself be borne by the hullabaloo of a motley crowd through which porters and rickshaws have to worm their way. On the square stands the pagoda of goddess Annapurna, a very elegant bronze and copper temple. Do not miss out, in Lagan district, to the south west of the town, on Jya Bahal monastery, with exceptionally rich decoration, and Sundhara fountain, the most beautiful in Kathmandu. Finally, another aspect of Kathmandu's architecture: the immense and sumptuous neo-classical palaces founded by the princes of the Rana dynasty. You should see: Singha Darbar, which was once the world's largest private mansion, now the Prime minister's palace; Shanker, transformed into a hotel; Baber Mahal, pastiche of Buckingham Palace; Gaddi Bai Thak, imbricated within the old Royal palace; the remains of Lal Darbar palace, in which some reception rooms host folk's shows (ask for information from the Yak and Yeti hotel)... Surrounded by a mountain cirque, the valley of Kathmandu, with a wealth of 2,700 temples and stupas, is the cradle of Nepal's historic heritage. The most important sites can be found less than 10 miles from the capital city and it is possible to combine a few visits within a day, by taking a taxi.

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