Kathmandu Durbar Square, also known as Hanuman Dhoka, is where the palaces of the Malla and Shah Kings are located. Besides a number of palaces and historical courtyards, the site also has many significant temples including Taleju, Maru Ganesh, Shiva Parvati Temple, Bhagwati Temple, Saraswoti Temple and Krishna Temple. Another culturally important site is the palace of the Living Goddess Kumari, located at the west end. Kasthamandap Temple, from where the name of Kathmandu City is derived, is also nearby.
Patan Durbar Square has the palace of the former royal family of Patan wherein are located the three important courtyards, namely, Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. The first has a sunken bath, Tusha Hiti. The square is reputed for a number of temples built in different architectural styles, the most famous being Krishna, Kumbheswor and Bhimsen Temples.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square’s jewel is the 55-Window Palace around which you’ll find many pagoda and shikhara–style temples. Statues of ancient kings on stone plinths and wood carvings everywhere are a feature of the square. The impressive Lion Gate and the richly crafted Golden Gate are also on view at the square. The latter is at the entrance to the main courtyard of the 55-Window Palace.
Pashupatinath Temple dates back to 400 AD. Having a two-tiered gold plated roof and silver embossed doors, it houses the linga or phallic symbol of Shiva. This impressive temple is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River. At the entrance of the temple is a massive bronze figure of Nandi, Shiva’s bull. Nearby is the cremation ground where most Hindu Nepalis prefer to have their last rites done.
Boudhanath Stupa has a diameter of 100 m and a height of 40 meters. The stupa has a large dome, from the upper tower of which, Buddha’s all-seeing eyes gaze out on all directions. 108 Buddhist deities and rows of brass prayer wheels can be found around the circumambulatory path. Monasteries from all four schools of Mahayana Buddhism are situated within the complex.
On the east side of Kathmandu city, atop a wooded hill, stands Swayambhunath Stupa, an endearing symbol of Nepal. It can be reached by climbing 365 steps, past the gilded Vajra and two stone lions or up a paved road that winds up the hill on the other side. Numerous Chaityas, smaller temples and deity images can be found within the compound.
The oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley is Changu Narayan Temple located some distance away from Bhaktapur. On view here are some great examples of stone, wood, and metal craftsmanship of the Licchavi period (c. 400-750 A.D.) among which, Lord Narayan’s 10-headed and 10-armed 5th century stone image is outstanding. The 5th century statue of Garuda, the man/bird carrier of Lord Vishnu (another name for Narayan), is another fine piece of stone-work. One of the oldest Licchavi stone inscriptions can be seen here.
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