Spiritual Nepal: 5x royal cities and temple complexes

Nepal state nIn addition to the beautiful nature, it is also known for the rich culture of its ancient royal cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Those places can be visited in two days with a guide. That’s how we set out with Tiger Tops . It is also a good starting point or nice conclusion to a trip through Nepal.

Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Henk Bothof

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1. Kathmandu

In Nepal you make a good start by visiting the famous Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square with accompanying museums. Must see are the Jagannath and Kumari Ghar temples, with traditional Newari carvings dating back to the sixteenth century. Feel free to get lost in the busy surrounding streets. And visit authentic shops, such as Chakra Bowls (Naradevi-18). For example, beautiful singing bowls are for sale here. Nearby you will find the colorful Asan district , where locals come to buy fruit and vegetables.

In the village of Boudha, just outside the capital of Nepal, lies the famous white Boudhanath . The three-tiered stupa is decorated with colorful Tibetan flags. And the big wise eyes ‘watch’ over the square. The district is nicknamed ‘Little Tibet’ because refugees find shelter here at the approximately 29 Tibetan monasteries. In the evening it is sometimes also a special place. Because at full moon, monks chant mantras in this spiritual place.

Jagannath Temple

2. Pashupatinath

From Boudha you can walk to nearby Pashupatinath , where impressive Hindu cremation rituals take place on the Bagmati River. At an appropriate distance, you can witness these so-called ghats acts. The bodies wrapped in cloths are placed on a covered platform. Then, after parting, they are carefully set on fire. The relatives watch this ritual from a stone bench. The remains then disappear into the river.

Also take a look at the entrance of the Shiva Temple , which is only accessible to Hindus. The temple dates from the fifth or seventh century. It is one of the largest Hindu temples in Asia and attracts many Indians. You will also find colorfully colored saddhus (holy men and followers of Shiva).


3. Bhaktapur

Just outside the city in the valley lies the medieval city of Bhaktapur. In the early morning you have the beautiful Dattatreya square and temple, the Sun Dokha gate and the Palace with the 55 windows to yourself.

Another highlight is the (Hindu) temple Nyatapola on Tamaudij square. This temple (1702) is the highest pagoda in the country at 30 meters and also has five wooden floors above the stately stone staircase. The staircase is also richly surrounded by divine figures and beasts.

Also stop by one of the painting schools, such as Lama Thanka Center . Here students and masters make affordable authentic works. And they are often beautifully detailed.


4. Patan

Perhaps the most beautiful and oldest temple city is Patan (Lalitpur). The Durbar Square is full of pearls. For example, legends of the 17th-century kingdom of Yoga Narendra Malla can be found here.

Adjacent to this is the Patan Museum . Previously this was the royal palace of the Malla lordship. There are many religious objects and art on display.

A nice conclusion is a visit to the Buddhist Kwa Bahal , or the Golden Temple (12th century). The temple gets its name from the gilded metal plates that cover the main facade. But also to the legend of King Bhaskar Verma. He had a divine dream about a rat chasing a cat. If you look closely, you will see the gilded animals in the many decorations and statues.

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The temple of the lobe gilded with gold.

5. Lumbini Temple Complex

Located between Chitwan and Bardia national parks, it is located in the Rupandehi district. Here is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, or: Buddha (623 BC). Since 1997, this temple complex has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site . However, it has been a pilgrimage for thousands of years that attracts many pilgrims from all over the world. Yet the average traveler often skips this special place and that is a pity. It is easy to visit in a few hours. The site covers 3 kilometers, which is easy to do by bicycle or taxi.

In the sacred zone is the Mayadevi Temple. With a marker of archaeological remains, the exact birthplace of Buddha is indicated here. Outside the building is the Ashokan Pillar . The pillar bears the oldest inscription in Nepal and proof that Buddha came from here. A birth ritual is said to have been performed at the sacred pond. That is why monks regularly meditate here.

The Lumibini grounds also consist of Eastern ( Theravadin ) and Western ( Mahayana and Vajrayana ) richly decorated temples and monasteries. These are represented from all over the world. In some of those temples, the story of Buddha is imitated.

Tip: go with a guide, who knows the history well and knows the way. Best time to visit: late afternoon, early evening. Lumbini is part of the All For Nature’s nature trip where you go on a tiger safari.

Also read other stories about Nepal, such as our tiger safari .

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