Perched on a hill at an altitude of 1,401 m, Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon, literally the City of Devotees is a major tourist destination that takes visitors back in time. Bhaktapur lies 12 km to the east of Kathmandu on the Arniko Highway that leads to the Chinese border. Covering an area of 6.4 sq. km, Bhaktapur is still untouched by rapid urbanization and has managed to retain its brick paved roads, charming red brick houses and a way of life that goes back to medieval times. This ancient city is also famous for pottery and woodcarving amply displayed on the squares and windows respectively.
Sites not to miss in Bhaktapur:
Bhaktapur Durbar Square (UNESCO World Heritage Site):
Among the three durbar squares, the Bhaktapur Durbar Square is by far the most elegant with its large open space facing south. The 15th century Palace of 55 Carved Windows and the palace entrance, the Golden Gate - a masterpiece in repousse art - have added splendor to this palace square which consists of buildings dating from the 13th century to the 18th century. The extraordinary Durbar Square with its extraordinary monuments reflects the glory days of the Malla dynasty when art and architecture thrived in the three cities of the valley. In front of the palace building are innumerable temples and architectural showpieces like the Lion Gate, the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla mounted on a giant stone pillar and the Batsala Temple. The stone temple of Batsala Devi is full of intricate carvings and is a beautiful example of Shikhara style architecture. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple, which is also known as the Bell of Barking Dogs. Erected by King Ranjit Malla in 1737, its sounding announced the beginning and end of a daily curfew.
The unique temple of Bhaktapur, the Nyatapola literally means ‘five storied’ and rises above the city’s landscape as a remarkable landmark. It also has the distinction of having withstood the devastating earthquake of 1933. Dedicated to a tantric goddess, the steps leading up to the temple are flanked by stone sculptures of deities and mythical beasts, each 10 times more powerful than the one immediately below.
Dedicated to Bhairav, the God of Terror, the three-storied temple of Bhairavnath has only the head of Bhairav in the inner sanctum. Legend has it that the Bhairav’s head was cut off by a tantric expert in order to keep him in Bhaktapur. Built in pagoda style, the temple is noted for its artistic grandeur and stands adjacent to the famous five-storied Nyatapola Temple.
It takes its name from the Dattatreya Temple dedicated to a three-headed combination of the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. This temple is said to have been built from the trunk of a single tree. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows.
The National Art Gallery:
The museum in Bhaktapur is housed in the old Malla Palace of 55 Windows in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The gallery has a rich collection of paubha scroll paintings, bronze, brass, stone and wooden images.
The National Woodworking Museum:
The museum in Dattatreya Square is in the restored 15th-century Pujari Math building. The Pujari Math is a museum in itself, with the very finest of Newar woodcarving including the famous Peacock Window. It has ancient and medieval paintings belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist schools.
The Bronze and Brass Museum:
It is in a 15th-century building opposite the Pujari Math at Tachapal Tol, Bhaktapur. A rich collection of domestic and ceremonial metalware is exhibited in the museum.
Siddha Pokhari (Pond):
For a small city, Bhaktapur has the largest number of public water tanks built within the city limits. Siddha Pokhari, which dates back to the Lichhavi period, is situated at the bus stop. This large rectangular pond teems with fish and has stone images of different Hindu and Buddhist gods on the walls surrounding it.
It is a Newar town situated about 8 km east of Kathmandu on the way to Bhaktapur. Besides farming, most of the households here are engaged in pottery. This laid-back town not only supplies Kathmandu its pottery but also its vegetables. The two important deities here are those of Balkumari Temple, dedicated to the Mother Goddess, and Karunamaya, the Buddha of Compassion.
Surya Binayak Temple:
Situated in a thick forest to the south of Bhaktapur, it is a 20-minute walk from the bus stop. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesh and is crowded with devotees especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Changu Narayan Temple (World Heritage Monument):
It is situated on a ridge overlooking Bhaktapur, about 12 km to the east of Kathmandu. Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, it is one of the oldest specimens of pagoda architecture in the valley. The temple dating from the Licchavi period is embellished with exquisite wood and stone carvings.
Mardi Himal (mountain), Annapurna Range, Nepal
Mardi Himal is considered to be an ideal introduction to mountaineering in the high Himalaya, particularly if you have limited time available. No previous experience of high altitudes is necessary, as every precaution will be taken to ensure gradual and thorough acclimatization during the trek to the mountain.
Although Mardi Himal is the shortest and probably the easiest of expeditions to Nepal, a major benefit of Mardi Himal is the ability to climb it in a round trip of a little over two weeks. It therefore makes a visit to the Himalaya a real possibility for those who hither to have not been able to find the time to join a longer expedition. This is one of the most exotic and interesting offbeat trekking routes in the Annapurna region. Uncrowned terrain provides a chance to explore traditional villages, incredible scenery, infinite diversity of culture, spectacular views of silvery mountains, tempting views of rivers and exotic valley. The first few days the route is quite uphill along the ridge through rhododendron and pine forests. No other trekkers are seen on the route for six days and camping should be self-sufficient. The entire trek will be highlighted with the mesmerizing views of the Annapurna range, Mount Machhapuchhre, Mount Manaslu and Mount Dhaulagiri.
This peak is located in the east of the Modi Khola, across the valley from Hiunchuli. It is separated from Machhapuchhre ridge by a col. and usual route of ascent reaches this col (about 5,200m. /17,060 ft.) and reaches the summit via a route on its east flank. Although the mountain rises above the entrance to the Annapurna sanctuary it is not often visited. The trek reaches and then follows the Mardi Khola for 2 days before turning and climbing the ridge line for 3 more days before reaching base camp around 4,100 m. /13,451 ft.
Two hundred kilometers west of Kathmandu, nestled in a valley beneath the Annapurna mountain lies the magnificent city of Pokhara. Pokhara is virtually in the geographical center of Nepal. Located on the main road between Kathmandu and Bhairahawa, there may be no other place in the world from which the great Himalayan peaks can be admired from such a close distance. The city has quietly won the hearts of travelers from around the world. Many visitors find their most lasting impression of Nepal from the astonishing mountain peak Machhapuchhre reflected in the still waters of Pokhara's Fewa Lake. Indeed the literal meaning of Machhapuchhre is Fishtail, which has inspired us to name our self the alike. Upon your arrival in Pokhara, you would definitely say - "Ohh! The Mountain is still Young".
Pokhara is the finest natural city of the world and is marked by a half dozen lakes of varying sizes, all linked by a trekking trail. Hence, it is also known as a lake city of Nepal. It is Nepal's tourism capital and the second largest tourist destination too. Experience it by heart: it is honeymooners' paradise.
The sites not to be missed in the city are Davi's Fall, Fewa Lake & Barahi Temple, Sarangkot Hillock, Begnas Lake, Seti Gorge, Mahendra Cave, International Mountain Museum, Bindabasini Temple and Kahu Danda.
DAVI'S FALL: - It is a beautiful waterfall formed from the outlet of Fewa Lake. Why it is named Davi's fall might be the matter of interest. One day, trekkers named Devin and David had their bath down to the Fewa dam but unknowingly the doors of the dam opened to reduce the water level. Both the trekkers did not notice the signal to run away and sadly they were washed away and one of them mysteriously disappeared down into the underground passage beneath the fall. Since then the fall was named Davi's fall. It is one of the well-suggested visiting sites within Pokhara.
SARANGKOT: - Sarangkot is a small hill on the north west side of Pokhara. It is the best place to view sunrise and mountains such as Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri range, Lamjung Himal, Manaslu and the Ganesh Himal. Tourists reach there early in the morning to view the rolling sunrise and the dazzling mighty snow peaks in the morning tender sun.
FEWA LAKE: - Fewa Lake is the finest lake of Nepal. It is 4.5 km long and up to 2 km wide. Boating on the lake is exciting and definitely one of the most interesting moment. In the middle of the lake there is a small island where Barahi temple is located. Every day thousands of visitors visit the temple. Surrounded by the green forest and lakeside city, Fewa Lake reflects the beautiful images of Machhapuchhre.
BEGNAS LAKE: - Begnas lake is located 13 km east of Pokhara city. This lake is in a round shape and is surrounded by green hills. On the north beautiful Annapurna IV is overlooking the lake.
SETI GORGE: - Seti River is originated from the beautiful mountain, Machhapuchhre and is another natural wonder of the city. The water is milky white and cool. The river before entering into the Pokhara city disappears into a narrow natural tunnel and appears in some places. Its width is hardly two meters and the depth is more than 20 meters but one cannot see the bottom of the river. Mahendra Pool (bridge) is the right place to view the dreadful rush of the river through a narrow gorge.
GUPTESHWOR MAHADEV CAVE: - South of the Pokhara valley lies a beautiful cave popularly known as Gupteshwor Mahadev. The cave has several branches but the end has not yet been met. The main part of the cave is some 20 metres down and there lies a small temple of Shiva. One of the branch of the cave goes towards the Davi's fall and after a 20 meters easy walk one can reach near the fall. It is a very wonderful moment to stand just below the fall inside the cave. Gupteshwor Mahadev cave is a religious site for the Hindus.
MAHENDRA CAVE: - It is located on the north of the valley some 10 km from the city center. This is the most popular cave in Nepal. Nearby the cave there is another cave named Chamera cave or the bat cave where hundreds of bats live.
WORLD PEACE STUPA: - Located on a small hilltop, World Peace Stupa is one of t