Kathmandu Valley

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The Kathmandu Valley is indeed a unique type of valley, wearing an exotic setting. Twenty-five centuries back it stood as a titanic lake. It is completely surrounded by a tier of green mountain walls above which to the north tower the mighty snow-capped peaks during the winter. It consists of four major cities carrying great historic, artistic and cultural interest. They include Kathmandu, Patan, Bhadgaon and Kirtipur. Ironically speaking, Kathmandu Valley was an empire owning four petty kingdoms till 1769 A. D. The four kingdoms of Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur have today appeared as independent modern cities. The Valley with an approximate population of a million and a half (i.e. counting the Tibetans and the Indians as well) covers an area of 218 square miles and is situated at an elevation of 4,423 feet above the sea-level as part of the Shangrila. Kathmandu (Kantipur)-the Capital.

Sky Vairab Temple
Also referred to as the Blue Bhairab sometimes, it is a three-storied temple in the principal market called Indra Chowk. The divine image of the Sky Bhairab is displayed outside for a week-long period during the great festival of Indra Jatra. The celebration of Indra Jatra honors Indra-The King of Heaven & The God of Rain. The Newars call Him 'Aajudyo.'

Hanuman Gate
This falls to be the historic seat of the past royalty, particularly belonging to the Malla dynasty. The Durbar Square, which is itself the old Royal Palace Complex dedicated to the Malla monarchs, is today classified as a World Heritage Site of Culture. The age-old temples and palaces epitomize the religious and cultural life-style of the people. The interesting things to view include Taleju Temple built by late King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D., a gigantic stone figure exposing the fearful manifestation of the Black Vairab which the Hindus regard as the God of Destruction, the tall stone pillar on the plinth-top of which sits late King Pratap Malla with his two beloved queens on either sides plus an infant child in the middle, the colossal image of the White Vairab the lattice of which is removed for a week during the Kumari Yatra festival, the nine-storied Basantapur Palace (literally meaning the spring season palace), the Gigantic Bell and the Great Drums. The main golden-gate is guarded by the Monkey-God called Hanuman . He is the King of the Monkeys and a faithful servant to Lord Ram Chandra-the unanimous Hero of the ancient epic "Ramayan." Being guarded by a sole protector, the gate itself has come to be known as Hanuman Gate. With a commercial umbrella suspended above his head and wrapped in a scarlet cloak, he squats on a stone plinth to be respected by hundreds of Nepalese Hindus plus Indian Hindus. (He is actually blind-folded as he was a chaste bachelor and wishes not to come in vision of any female figures.)

Temple of Kumari
The temple and the holy quadrangle with a Buddhist stupa at the center form the residential quarters of the Chaste Virgin Living Goddess called KUMARI. The traditional building has profusely carved wooden balconies and window screens. The non-Buddhist and the non-Hindu visitors may enter the courtyard called the 'bahal' but may not proceed beyond upstairs. The KUMARI acknowledges their greetings from the central window of the balcony particularly saved for Her alone and snapshot is strictly prohibited.

Kastha Mandap
Located nearby the Temple of Kumari, this is a unique type of wooden temple also known as Maru Satal. It was built in 1596 A.D. by King Laxmi Narsingh Malla. They say the timber used for its relevant construction was sawed out of a single tree. It is also believed that the capital of Kathmandu derived its new name from this very 'Kastha Mandap.' Today it houses the Hindu God namely Gorakh-Nath.

Pashupati Nath Temple
It is a pagoda style Hindu temple with gilt roofings and richly carved silver doors dedicated to Lord Shiba and is situated at the bank of the holy Bagmati River. One of the most sacred temples in the entire Hindu world, Pashupati Nath Temple is the nerve center of pilgrimage on the day of Shibaratri. The minute religious town itself which houses the great temple is known as Debpatan and is situated 5 kilometers east of the capital city. Only Hindus are permitted to enter the main courtyard of the temple. Alien tourists can view the temple from the eastern side of the Bagmati River. Guheshwori Temple : On a forested knoll further behind Pashupati Nath Temple to the eastern direction and also by the side of the bending or winding Bagmati River appears the gracious temple of Guheshwori sometimes known as Akash Yogini. It is another famous spot of Hindu pilgrimage. It houses the shrine of Goddess Parbati who is Lord Shiba's spouse. In this case also, only Hindus are authorized to enter the premises.

Swayambhu Nath Shrine
This is believed to be 25 centuries old and stands as one of the world's oldest Buddhist Chaityas. The Great Stupa of Swayamvu is the wonder that was Nepal, the glory that was Nepal. It is indeed listed a World Heritage Site of Culture to prove that it serves as the nerve center of faithful worship for all the devout Buddhists of the universe. Swayamvu embraces the authentic philosophy of Bajrayan in particular and honors Lord Adi Buddha. It is dedicated to the self-originating flame God. The stupa which forms the salient structure is well composed of a solid hemisphere of terra-cotta bricks and soil supporting a cornice of copper and gilt. Painted on the four-sided base of the spire are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha, keeping an eternal watch on the Valley distinguishing between vice and virtue. It is some two miles west of Kathmandu City proper across the holy Bishnumati River. Situated on the top of a hillock, it is about 500 feet above the level of the Valley. The whole hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and pagoda temples possessing great dignity plus beauty. There also exist six big Buddhist monasteries in all-five Mahayan (Lamaist) and one Hinyan (Therbadist). On the hind hill is located another important Buddhist shrine; it is called Manjushree. This compassionate Chinese Buddha is the God of Knowledge.

Boudha Nath Stupa
This is declared to stand as the largest Buddhist shrine of South Asia. The ancient colossal chhorten was built in the 6th century A.D. by King Man Deb belonging to the Lichhabi dynasty. It rests on a series of three terraces and from the bird's eye view it takes the relevant shape of a lotus flower which indeed remains a very holy object for the devout Buddhists of the entire world. The chhorten is surrounded by a circular market which forms a part of Tibet Town. In this case also the four pairs of the Buddha's eyes give a vivid flash to the four cardinal directions, meaning to keep a diligent watch over the people and their commitments all day all night. The chhorten embraces the authentic philosophy of Mahayan the faith of which is known as Lamaism in Sikkim, Ladakh, Bhutan and Tibet. It also proves a World Heritage Site.

Situated in the northern suburbs of the Valley just at the foot of Mt. Shibapuri, this is an enchanting Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Bishnu Narayan. So the locality is also known as Narayanthan. He lies in a bed of serpents amidst the pious pool and seems to float on water. The surrounding pond actually represents the sea. The reclining statue was built in the 5th century A.D. The season of religious celebration here takes place right after the festival of Tihar. Although it is a renowned spot of worship, the reigning king of Nepal (may it be contemporary or any Hindu monarch) may not visit this place for reasons particularly unknown. Thus to please the king a replica of it has been built elsewhere if he wishes to visit it much.

Dachhin Kali
Kali is a bloodthirsty Hindu Goddess. This particular temple lies in the southernmost suburbs of the Valley, beyond Furping downward in a solitary ravine. So She is termed 'Dachhin-Kali' meaning South Kali. The important days for religious pilgrimage include Tuesdays and Saturdays. A ritual worship attached by animal sacrifice would not be an uncommon scene here the practice of which is totally against Buddhism in the birthland of Lord Buddha. The poor victims include the fowls, birds and sheep in general.