Kathmandu city is one of the World’s least expensive cities which stands at an elevation of approx. 1,400 metres. Kathmandu city is gateway to tourism in Nepal and the city is surrounded by four major mountains i.e . Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun and Chandragiri.
Kathmandu city is one of the most populated city adjoining with other two well known city Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. All together they become a Kathmandu Valley which is historically also known as Nepal Mandala. 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.
The name of city i.e. Kathmandu was named after the Kasthamandap temple which is situated in Kathmandu Durbar Square. The word Kastha means wood and Mandap means covered shelter. This temple is also known as Maru Satal and is build by King Laxmi Narsingh Malla in 1596. The two-storey structure is made entirely of wood, and uses no iron nails nor supports. According to legend, all the timber used to build this pagoda was obtained from a single tree.
The ancient history of Kathmandu is described in its traditional myths and legends. According to Swayambhu Purana, the present day Kathmandu was once a lake called Nagdaha. The lake was drained by Manjusri, who established a city called Manjupattan and made Dharmakar the ruler of the land.
Place of Attraction in Kathmandu
1. Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar square stands 15 minute walk from Thamel toward South. The meaning of Durbar square is place of palaces. The Durbar Square of Kathmandu is located in the old city and has heritage buildings representing four kingdoms (Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur); the earliest is the Licchavi dynasty. The complex has 50 temples and is distributed in two quadrangles of the Durbar Square. The outer quadrangle has the Kasthamandap, Kumari Ghar, and Shiva-Parvati Temple; the inner quadrangle has the Hanuman Dhoka palace.
2. Pashupatinath Temple
The Pashupatinath Temple is a famous 5th century Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (Pashupati). Located on the banks of the Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu i.e. 20 minute drive from Thamel, Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. It served as the seat of national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, until Nepal was secularized. However, a significant part of the temple was destroyed by Mughal invaders in the 14th century and little or nothing remains of the original 5th-century temple exterior. The temple as it stands today was built in the 19th century, although the image of the bull and the black four-headed image of Pashupati are at least 300 years old.
3. Boudhanath Stupa
The Boudhanath, (also written Bouddhanath, Bodhnath, Baudhanath or the Khāsa Chaitya), is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal, along with Swayambhu. It is a very popular tourist site. Boudhanath is known as Khāsti by Newars and as Bauddha or Bodhnāth by speakers of Nepali. Located about 11 km (7 mi) from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.
4. Swoyambhunath Stupa
Swayambhu is a Buddhist stupa atop a hillock at the northwestern part of the city. This is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. Although the site is considered Buddhist, it is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. The stupa consists of a dome at the base; above the dome, there is a cubic structure with the eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions. There are pentagonal Toran above each of the four sides, with statues engraved on them. Behind and above the torana there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers, there is a small space above which lies a gajur.
Peoples in Kathmandu
The largest ethnic groups are Newar (29.6%), Matwalis (25.1% Gurung, Tamang, Magars, etc.), Khas Brahmins (20.51%), and Chettris (18.5) . Tamangs originating from surrounding hill districts can be seen in Kathmandu. More recently, other hill ethnic groups and Caste groups from Terai have become present as well.
Festival celebrated in Kathmandu
Most of the fairs and festivals in Kathmandu originated in the Malla period or earlier. Traditionally, these festivals were celebrated by Newars. In recent years, these festivals have found wider participation from other Kathmanduites as well. As the capital of the Republic of Nepal, various national festivals are celebrated in Kathmandu. With mass migration to the city, the cultures of Khas from the west, Kirats from the east, Bon/Tibetan from the north, and Mithila from the south meet in the capital and mingle harmoniously.
The festivities such as the Ghode (horse) Jatra, Indra Jatra, Dasain Durga Puja festivals, Shivratri and many more are observed by all Hindu and Buddhist communities of Kathmandu with devotional fervor and enthusiasm. Social regulation in the codes enacted incorporate Hindu traditions and ethics. These were followed by the Shah kings and previous kings, as devout Hindus and protectors of Buddhist religion.
Cultural continuity has been maintained for centuries in the exclusive worship of goddesses and deities in Kathmandu and the rest of the country. These deities include the Ajima, Taleju (or Tulja Bhavani), Degutaleju, and Kumari (the living goddess). The artistic edifices have now become places of worship in the everyday life of the people, therefore a roster is maintained to observe annual festivals. There are 133 festivals held in the year.
Some of the traditional festivals observed in Kathmandu, apart from those previously mentioned, are Bada Dashain, Tihar, Chhath, Maghe Sankranti, Naga Panchami, Janai Poornima, Pancha Dan, Teej/Rishi Panchami, Pahan Charhe, Jana Baha Dyah Jatra (White Machchhendranath Jatra), and Matatirtha Aunsi.
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