Kathmandu Travel Guide
Kathmandu is like Am Dram pantomime scenery gone mad. Probably one of the most colourful cities in the world, Kathmandu will kidnap your senses before assaulting them violently with the vibrant colours, smells and sounds of this anciently psychedelic capital city. The city is awash with the most amazingly intricate architecture, centring on Durbar Square with its eclectic collection of temples and shrines, the exquisite old Royal Palace and the Statue of Hanuman the red cloaked Monkey God. Buddhism and Hinduism have become intermingled in Nepal in a bizarre way that few outsiders can begin to comprehend and the various pagoda style temples and shrines in the Kathmandu Valley are dedicated to a plethora of fascinating gods and goddesses. In Durbar Square for instance, there is the house of the living goddess - the Kumari, an intricately beautiful three-storey white building built in the mid-18th century by Jaya Prakash, Kathmandu's last Malla king. From Kathmandu, one can also reach the famous Monkey Temple. As the name suggests, this temple is home to a large number of monkeys - some loitering on the tremendous number of steps leading up to the temple and the others in the temple itself. The monkeys are temperamental however and should be treated with considerable caution and respect, unless you fancy being beaten up by a gang of vicious 2 footers.
Easily reachable from this wonderful city full of theatrical looking temples, snake charmers and decorative elephants are even more temples along the Kathmandu Valley. Visit the temple complex of Pashupatinath on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River just outside the city. It is the most important Hindu temple in Nepal and attracts many sadhus (wandering Hindu holy men). Or, check out the Buddhist stupa at Swayambhunath, built on top of a hill that, according to legend, used to be an island in a great lake that filled the Kathmandu Valley. Being the commercial and business hub of Nepal, the city of Kathmandu itself is also the perfect place to pick up some authentic Tibetan handicrafts and artefacts. The people are infinitely friendly and welcoming, and the diverse mix and layering of so many cultures and ethnic groups makes for a veritable Nepalese lasagne. Kathmandu actually is as enigmatic as it sounds - it's one of the world's truly magical places.
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