Kathmandu Valley

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Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu Valley:
Kathmandu is the capital of the Himalayas-Nepal. It is largest urban agglomerate of Nepal. The agglomerate consists of Kathmandu Metropolitan City at its core and its sister cities Lalitpur (Patan), Kritipur, and Bhadgaun (Bhaktapur). The fertile, mountain-sheltered Kathmandu Valley is the historic heart of Nepal, where the Himalaya’s most sophisticated kingdoms rose and fell and where Nepali art and culture were developed and refined. In many ways the Kathmandu Valley is Nepal.A remarkable legend speaks that the valley was once covered by a lake until the Bodhisattva Manjushree raised his sword of wisdom and sliced a passage through the mountain walls, draining the water and creating the first settlements. Banepa, Dhulikhel and Panauti are urban areas of Kathmandu located just outside the valley. Kathmandu is also known informally as “KTM” or the “tri-city”. According to a census conducted in 2011, Kathmandu has 975,453 inhabitants. The metropolitan city area is 50.67 square kilometers (19.56 sq. miles) and has a population density of 13,225 per km².

Kathmandu valley is the political, commercial and cultural hub of Nepal. It is situated at an altitude of 1336 meter above the sea level. Kathmandu is an exotic and fascinating showcase of a very rich culture, art and tradition. It is surrounded by four major mountains: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Today, Kathmandu is not only the capital of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, but also the headquarters of the Central Development Region of Nepal. Kathmandu is the gateway to tourism in Nepal. It is also the nerve center of the country’s economy. In 2013, Kathmandu was ranked third among the top 10 travel destinations on the rise in the world by Tripadvisor, and ranked first in Asia.
The city has a rich history, spanning nearly 2000 years, as inferred from inscriptions found in the valley. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Most of Kathmandu’s people follow Hinduism and many others follow Buddhism. There are people of other religious beliefs as well, giving Kathmandu a cosmopolitan culture. Nepali is the most commonly spoken language in the city. English language is understood by Kathmandu’s educated residents. Kathmandu’s sister cities Lalitpur (Patan) and Bhaktapur are integral to Kathmandu’s cultural heritage, tourism industry, and economy; therefore UNESCO’s World Heritage Site lists all three cities’ monuments and attractions together under one heading, “Kathmandu Valley-UNESCO World Heritage Site”.

The artistic richness of the valley is reflected in the six Unesco World Heritage sites that lie scattered around the valley like jewelled confetti. They include the ancient Buddhist stupas of Swayambhunath (affectionately known as the ‘Monkey Temple’) and Bodhnath. The Pashupatinath Temple ranks as Nepal’s most important Hindu site and attracts pious pilgrims and dreadlocked sadhus from all over the subcontinent. Newari architecture reaches its pinnacle in the breathtaking Durbar squares of Patan and Bhaktapur, the third and most traditional of the valley’s three former kingdoms. Just outside Bhaktapur is the Changu Narayan Temple, an open-air museum of stone-carved masterpieces. All these sites are easily visited as day trips from Kathmandu.
The valley has a host of lesser-known, but still wonderful, temples, viewpoints and traditional Newari villages, and half the fun is getting to and from these sights, by foot, mountain bike or motorbike. Many people miss out on these sights in a feverish rush to get to Chitwan, Pokhara or Everest, but the irony is that you’ll find far fewer tourists just 10km outside Kathmandu than you will jostling for a view at Everest Base Camp. With a rapidly expanding population of 1.5 million the valley has certainly changed over the years, but aspects of traditional life endure. Rural life continues to move to the rhythms of the seasons and spectacular festivals, and the timeless demands of the fields, the family and the gods remain the fundamental priorities of most people’s lives.

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