Patan Durbar Square & Boudhanath Stupa are among the seven cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites situated in the valley. These two monuments are the living cultural prides of the country.
The colossal and ancient stupa Boudhanath, built by Licchavi King Man Dev in the 5th century A. D. , is regarded as one of the world’s biggest stupa and has been built on a stepped octagonal base decorated with alcoves representing Buddha and his teachings. The stupa is surrounded by various temples or 'gompas' and filled with fragrance of incense and chanting of monks. It is one of the prime Buddhist pilgrimage site in the country.
One of the valley’s three medieval kingdoms, Patan is also known as Lalitpur or the “City of Artisans’. Locals living in Patan also refer to the ancient city as Yala. History has it that Patan was founded in the 3rd century by the Kirat dynasty and later was modeled into perfection by Lichhavis in the sixth century followed by Malla dynasty. This city presents a potpourri of finest traditional crafts and rich artistic heritage. Patan Durbar Square, Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor temple, Krishna Temple, Golden Temple or Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Mulchowk, Jagat Narayan Temple, Big Bell, Pillar of Yognarendra Malla, Hari Shanker temple, Vishwanath temple, Bhimsen temple, Marga Hiti, Mani Mandap, Café Pagoda, Rato Machhendra Temple, Minnath, Rudra Varna Mahavihar etc are the major attractions of Patan.
Bungamati is another ancient Newari village that lies just a few kilometers from the busy city (Kathmandu) centre. Dating back to the 16th century this village is an important religious site. Legend has it that the Rain God ‘Machhendranath’ was brought to the valley in the form of a bee during one of the worst droughts that the valley was experiencing. The Rain God took up residence at the village and revealed his true form, that of Rato(Red) Machhendranath thereby blessing the drought hit valley with abundant rainfall. From then on every year in the month of April/ May his idol is carried in a chariot from Bungamati to different places in Patan . The chariot festival known as Rato Macchendranath Jatra is celebrated annually with much fanfare. There is a magnificent temple at the village square where Rato Machhendranath’s idol is kept. Apart from the Rain God, Bungamati is also famous for its wood carving. Generations of wood carvers from this village have produced exquisite wood work that has adorned thousands of homes, temples, museums etc. Lying just a few kilometers from Kathmandu city, the village has a rustic ambience and is a sure delight for those on the lookout of Newari culture and rural lifestyle.
Rato Machhendranath Temple
(Pictures: Explore Himalaya)