Inhabited since at least 300 BC, the Kathmandu valley is home to over 130 important monuments of which the majority carry the indigenous Newar flavour in the unique art and sculpture as well as developing Asia’s hallmark multi-tiered pagoda architecture. Newar people whose language has greatly influenced modern Nepali language originated from Tibeto-Burman roots. They are understood to be the descendants of the various ethnic and racial groups that have inhabited and ruled the valley over the region’s two-millennium history.
Newars created a sophisticated urban civilisation marked by developments in agriculture, cuisine, trade and industry.Indeed, the Kathmandu valley which is bowl shaped and ranges in altitude from 1425 to 2825 metres, has a long and rich history which featured Bhaktapur as the capital until the 15th century when Kathmandu and Lalitpur were designated. Several rulers presided over the area from the Kirats to the Licchavi Dynasty (464AD), Malla Dynasty from the 12th to 18th century to the Shah Dynasty of the Gorkha Kingdom which united Nepal as a nation.
According to Swayambhu Puran, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake, deemed by scientists as Paleo Kathmandu Lake. The hill where the Swayambu Stupa rests had lotus plants with beautiful lotus flowers abloom. Many stories seek to explain the evolution of the lake to habitable land including one which states the god Manjusri cut with his sword a gorge at Chobhar that drained the land. The current day valley is surrounded by four mountain ranges: Shivapuri (2800m), Phulchowki (2795m), Nagarjun (2825m) and Chandragiri (2300m) and features the Bagmati River flowing through its basin.
This valley hosts seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites which are located at the centres of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. These comprise the important Buddhist stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath as well as two famous Hindu shrines, Pashupatinath temple and Changu Narayan and the main Durbar squares of each of the three capitals. There is wide acceptance of the fact that Newar architects are attributed to the development and spread of Asia’s hallmark multi-tiered pagoda architecture which can seen as far reaching as India, China and Japan. In fact it is a Nepali artisan called Arniko with strong affiliations with Kublai Khan who is attributed as designing the white stupa at Miaowing Temple in Beijing.
Kathmandu Valley offers more than just outstanding cultural relics, it also has some fantastic trekking routes which have the added benefit of being able to be completed in a short time… perfect for those with tight time frames or even those who want to add an extra leg to an existing package. This region is highly accessible and offers adventure and beautiful landscape within a few hours’ drive of the bustling centre of Kathmandu. You will get the benefit of familiarising yourself with local culture whilst taking in some incredible views of different Himalayan ranges, and all at lower altitude levels. Imagine picturesque villages, forest ridges and of course the brilliant green of terraced fields… you will also experience the richness of Nepali life and the amazing hospitality of the villagers.