Kathmandu Valley, it is one of the prime destinations well acknowledged as the place where the Eastern culture began and thrived in harmony with its long neighbor India. Unsurprisingly, it is also the land of the densest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. The history of the Art War that began in the valley between the kings of then three medieval kingdoms (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur & Patan) is as old as 4th century.
Artistically built Durbar Squares where cluster of temples, museums, royal residences and bahals manifest tremendous skill of expert architecture of the ancient and medieval eras. The gigantic dome shaped stupas at Boudhanath & Swayambhunath demonstrate the Buddhist influence in the valley for a long long time and the sacred Hindu Temples like Pashupatinath and Changunarayan is the religious showcase of ancient Hindu rituals and culture. In short, the biggest hub where Hinduism so well blends with Buddhism is Kathmandu Valley.
Traveling around the major landmarks of Kathmandu, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites is an opportunity to see the best of Nepal’s ancient and medieval treasures. The word treasure clearly signifies the architectural, historical and the cultural values these landmarks cater. Moreover, the activities that are always vibrant in these landmarks of the valley cater tremendous opportunity of cultural exploration along with the Photography opportunities.
Apart from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the authentic and rich Newari culture seen in few villages lying around the valley literally takes you to the past. The only place on earth that boasts on creating Gods and Goddess and showcasing them with spiritual devotions during the festivals unique in themselves is Kathmandu Valley.
Housing the capital of the country, the valley also has some weird aspects that totally fantasizes the travelers at times and irritates at others. Cosmopolitan valley has massive pollution amidst the cultural opulence. Not well managed honking vehicles and motorbikes trigger long traffic jams at peak hours of the day. Despite everything that doesn’t attract a westerner who is used to with the well managed lifestyle, sometimes weirdness does grab their attentions. In the case of Kathmandu, weirdness looks even more beautiful because the cultural richness so well blended with crazy modern aspects is found nowhere else on earth.
Kathmandu Valley, known as city of temples is believed to have originated in the 8th century or even before. It boasts seven mounments listed under World Heritage Sites within a range of 7km – Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Changu Narayan, Bouddhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa & Pashupatinath Temple. Here are some of the snapshots of the valley and its monuments as seen in the past centuries.
View from Basantapur Durbar Square in 1920. Taleju temple, the then highest building is visible in background.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Bhaktapur still retains the beauty and traditions of the old days.
Dharahara, also known as “Bhimsen Tower”
Bhimsen Tower, Ram Chandra Temples and Bag Durbar. Bag Durbar or Tiger Palce was constructed in 18th century for Bhimsen Thapa, and was so called because he kept cage with living tigers at the entrance.
Seto Machindranath, or white Machindranath festival in Kathmandu in 19th century. The chariot is made entirely of wood & the festival is still the same today. A similar red machindranath chariot is pulled in Patan as well.
Patan Durbar Square in the 19th century. The statue in the middle has now been transfered to Patan Museum.
The Garden at Kaishar Mahal, now opened to public as “Garden of Dreams”. Established by Kaishar Shumsher, it also holds the Asia’s largest private library – the Kaishar Library.
Swayambhunath Stupa, aslo known as “Monkey Temple” as seen in the 1960.
All photographs are from “Images of a Century – The Changing Landscapes of the Kathmandu Valley”
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