UNESCO World Heritage Sites
(Cultural and Natural)
UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites
Kathmandu Durbar Square:
Kathmandu Durbar Square is in the heart of old city Kathmandu in Basantapur. The complex was residence to Nepal's Royal family before the construction of the Narayanhiti Palace. The founding of the Palace dates back to Licchavi times. With considerable renovations by Malla rulers and later the Ranas, construction was accomplished progressively over many centuries.
There are around 50 temples in the vicinity including the temple of titular deity, Taleju Bhawani. The Durbar is divided into two courtyards, the outer comprising Kasthamandap, Kumari Ghar, and Shiva-Parvati Temple, and the inner consisting of Hanuman Dhoka and the main palace. It also houses two museums. Important ceremonies, including the coronation of the Nepali monarch, are held in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. Most parts of the palace premise are open for tourists throughout the week during office hours.
Patan Durbar Square:
Patan Durbar Square complex, situated in the center of Patan city, houses the residence of the former Royal family of Patan. The Square and its surroundings provide very good example of ancient Newari architecture. The palace has three main courtyards the central and the oldest is Mul Chowk. To the west of the complex are a dozen free standing temples of various sizes and styles. Krishna Temple, Bhimsen Temple, the Golden Temple of Hiranya Varna Mahavira and Sundari Chowk mark the architectural excellence of its era. The Sundari Chowk with the sunken bath of Tusha Hiti, contains exquisite woodcarvings, stone, and metal sculpture. Patan Durbar Square also houses a temple of Taleju Bhawani.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square:
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is located in the center of Bhaktapur. The Square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights some of the finest medieval arts of Nepal. The main items of interest in Bhaktapur Durbar Square are the Lion Gate, the Golden Gate and the statues of kings on stone monoliths. The Golden Gate was built by King Ranjit Malla as the entrance to the main courtyard of the Fifty-five Windowed Palace.
The Palace of Fifty-five Windows was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in A.D. 1427 and was remodeled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeenth century. The art gallery of Bhaktapur Durbar Square contains ancient paintings belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of various periods. This gallery is open everyday except Tuesday.
Changu Narayan is the temple of Vishnu, the Preserver, in the village of Changu in Bhaktapur. The origin of Changu Narayan goes back to the fourth century. A fifth century stone inscription in the temple proclaims it as one of the oldest shrines of the Kathmandu Valley. The temple is believed to be sixteen hundred years old. It is embellished by the best examples of stone, wood, and metal craft.
Situated on a beautiful hill the square with two storey temple stands in the centre of a brick paved courtyard, with the main structure raised on a three tier diminishing plinth, with doors on all four sides, although the western door is the main en- trance to the sanctum. The doors have pairs of carvings of animals such as lions, horses, griffins and elephants, with the main western door richly carved in brass, with a brass tympanum above the door. (one of the most beautiful pieces of brass work of medieval Nepal).
The Buddhist community from the Kathmandu Valley also pay tribute to Changu Narayan as the Haribahana Lokeswar and Kileswar Shiva as Samantabhadra Lokeswar.
From the temple one can see the beautiful Manohara river flowing like a serpent through green fields, and to the north on a clear day one can see many Himalayan peaks. A whole day is needed to study and enjoy Changu Narayan. It is just 15 kilometers from Kathmandu city.
Bouddhanath is the center of Tibetan culture in Nepal. The 36-meter-high stupa of Bouddhanath is one of the largest stupas in South Asia. Bouddhanath Stupa was renovated by Licchavi rulers in the eighth century. The mandala design in Bouddhanath is a copy of the one in Gyangtse in Tibet.
The stupa is located in the area of ancient trade route to Tibet where Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Bouddhanath. Hence, a complete township has developed around Bouddhanath.
The stupa is said to entomb the remains of a Kasyap sage venerable both to Buddhists and Hindus. Smaller stupas are located at the base. Gompa monasteries, curio shops, and restaurants surround Bouddhanath.
Because of its location and size, it seems much larger than the Swayambunath Stupa, with the same hemispherical dome symbolizing the emptiness from which everything emanates. On top is the harmika painted on each side with the eyes of the Buddha symbolizing awareness, and above the spire with its 13 stages to the canopy. At ground level there is a brick wall with 147 niches and 108 images of the meditation Buddha inset behind copper prayer wheels. Early morning and evening are the times to visit Bouddha to join the local residents in kora (walking the pilgrim's circuit, sometimes with Tibetan pilgrims on their hands and knees). It is about 12 kilometers north of Kathmandu.
Swoyambhu literally means 'Self-Existenting One.' Swoyambhunath is believed to have been established more than 2,500 years ago. An inscription dated 460 A.D. states that the construction was carried out by King Manadeva. By the thirteenth century Swoyambhunath had developed into an important Buddhist learning site.
The history of Kathmandu Valley is said to have started with the beginning of Swoyambhu. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the stupa. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri of Saraswati - the goddess of learning. Statues and shrines of Buddhist and Hindu deities dot the stupa complex.
Large numbers of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit Swoyambhunath. Swoyambhu is perhaps the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal. The stupa is atop a hill, and requires considerable walk. There is also a road that leads almost to the base of the statue.
Pashupatinath is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for Shiva devotees. Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer, is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage destination in Nepal. Although the Pashupatinath Temple was only built in the fifth century and later renovated by Malla kings, the holy site is said to have existed from the beginning of the millennium.
A gold-plated roof, four silver doors, and wood carvings of the finest quality decorate the pagoda temple of Pashupatinath. 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. Behind the temple is the River Bagmati. On the banks of Bagmati are raised platforms used as cremation sites for Hindus. Only Hindus are allowed inside the main Pashupatinath shrine that is most sacred to the Hindus.
Non- Hindus cannot enter the temple, although Buddhists can. But no one is allowed to enter the inner sanctum except the Bhattas, the main priests who come from the south of India. The temple starts swarming with devotees around 4am every morning. However the top of the hill to the east of the temple is the ideal place for the non Hindu visitor to view the temple and its rich surroundings.
Lumbini associated with the birth of Lord Buddha is of extreme archeological importance and also a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. It is said that Prince Siddhartha Gautam, who later became Buddha the Enlightened One, was born in the gardens of Nepal's Lumbini in 623 B.C. The main shrines of Lumbini are the newly restored Mayadevi Temple, the Ashokan Pillar behind the temple and the Lake Shakya Puskarini where Mayadevi is said to have bathed before delivering the little Buddha into the world.
Several other places near Lumbini are linked with stories connected to Buddha and Buddhism. Lumbini is about 300 kilometers southwest of Kathmandu. Bus and flights to Bhairawa which is about 22 kilometers from Lumbini, are available from major cities. From Bhairawa transport services to Lumbini are easily available. Food and accommodation facilities are available in Lumbini and Bhairawa.
UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites
Chitwan National Park:
Nepal's first national park, located at the foot of the Himalaya in the Inner Terai lowlands. Covering an area of 932 sq. kilometers, the park extends over deciduous forest foothills and the Narayani River floodplains. The park is rich in its variety of vegetation and wildlife. The park provides one of the last habitats for endangered species like the Asiatic one-horned rhinoceros and the Bengal tiger. Chitwan National Park was officially established in 1973 and included as Natural Heritage Site in 1984 by UNESCO.
Sagarmatha National Park:
The Sagarmatha National Park with its rugged mountains, glaciers, valleys and crowned by the highest peak on earth Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters is located in Northeast Nepal. The 1,148 sq. kilometers of Sagarmatha National Park extends across the region's river areas and the famous Sherpa homeland Khumbu Valley. Forests of rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000 meters (13,120ft). Rare species of animals like the snow leopard, pandas, lynx are seen in the region. Rare bird varieties like snow cock, snow pigeon and different species of pheasant are also seen here. The park was declared a Natural Heritage Site in 1979.