by David Woollan
Global Mark : to come
Ratings by criteria :
Ratings by backpackers :
Description ? Kathmandu is a bustling, busy and cramped city that is desperately trying to catch up with the twentyfirst century. Also it is a living museum to two eastern faiths; Hinduism and Buddhism. The valley is studded by small villages and forest cover, walking routes and roads. To the north, visible during the dry season, are the mighty Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world.
Comments ? Travellers too often spend as little time as possible here, just to see the essential sights and spend a relaxing time in Thamel. Why not spend a couple of days in towns/villages just beyond the valley, such as Nagarkot, Pharping, Dhulikhel or Panauti, and make some day walks. Leave your backpack at the hotel, pack a daypack, and take a bus to Nagarkot. Stay overnight and next day walk to Dhulikhel. Overnight there and return to Kathmandu the following day by bus.
Orientation ? Cutting right through the heart of Kathmandu in a north-south direction is, arguably, the city's most important road, Kantipath. At the northern end of Kantipath lies the King's Palace. Immediately west of the Palace is Thamel, where most tourists stay. South of the holy Bagmati river lies the city of Patan (Lalitpur), a twin city with Kathmandu. Together the two cities are commonly referred to as Kathmandu. A ring road runs right around the city. Just beyond the ring road, in the east is the Hindu cremation site of Pashupati, and just to its north, Bouda, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal. Just south of Pashupati lies Tribhuvan International Airport. The third city of the valley is Bhaktapur and it lies about 7 kms east of Patan.
What to do? Buy a carpet to ship back home / Walk around Nepal's most famous Buddhist stupas, Swayambhu and
Boudha / Gaze at the King's Palace / Visit the living museums of Patan's and Kathmandu's Durba Square, monuments to Hindu
faith / Visit Jawalakhel zoo / Take the ancient trolley bus service out to
Bhaktapur / Walk through the Tribhuvhan University complex to the medieval town of
Kirtipur / Book yourself a white-water rafting trip or a bungy jump / Eat custard pies, pizzas, tacos and Thai green curry in Thamel's multi-cuisine
restaurants / Join the in-crowd for a beer at 40,000 ½ Ft. bar. / Buy the books that you'll take on the
trek / Wander around the tiny streets of Bagh Bazaar / Get knocked over by a
rickshaw / Spend hours surfing the web in the world's cheapest Internet cafes / Rent a bike and make day trips to the small villages dotting the
valley / Get your Thai visa for the next leg of your journey.
What you may not like ? The Tiger balm vendors and rickshaw wallahs
/ The mysterious guys who approach you, whisper "hash, ganja" in your ear and disappear
again / The chaotic rickshaw-motorbike-car-people mix that you must walk with / The piles of garbage at road
intersections / The incredibly slow buses that take you to the hill stations of Dhulikhel, Panauti
etc. / The polluted state of the city's rivers. / The $10 entrance fee to visit Bhaktapur
How long ? Three days to see all the sights and "chill out" in the evening in Thamel's restaurants and bars. Another three or four days to visit a couple of the hill stations.
Where to stay ? With so many new hotels constructed in the last few years there are many bargains to be had, and only the poorest backpacker needs to stay in the most basic places. Why not go for a slightly better room? Almost everybody heads for the Thamel area of Kathmandu which is also where the trinket shops, restaurants, trekking agencies and shops, book shops, bars and beggars are! Outside of the peak seasons, be prepared to bargain for your room. The prices quoted here were given to me in early September, just before the trekking season starts, and are between 30% to 50% lower than the full season's prices.
Unless stated, all hotels provide hot water. Another area of hotels, Freak Street, was the most popular area to stay in the early seventies, before Thamel was constructed. Only a few hotels remain in that area now. Why the name Freak Street? Some of the hippies who made Nepal such a popular destinations were, well, strange characters….
Finally I look at a couple of hotels around the Patan Durbar Square area. All prices quoted in Rupees or USD, as given to me.
In Thamel Area :
- Highlander Guest House (424066, firstname.lastname@example.org), Narshing
Camp / small rooms, very clean, all doubles. Sgl R450, with TV R580, dbl R580, with TV R750. Trekking agency, also with branches in Spain, UK, Denmark and India. Will meet guests at airport.
- Hotel Potala (419159), Narshing Camp / Basic, clean rooms with shared bathroom. Family lobby area. Run by Tibetan family. Opposite KC's restaurant. Dbl R200, sgl R150.
- New Mini Om Hotel (259036), Narshing Camp / Up a dark and gloomy staircase to, you guessed it, dark and gloomy rooms. Dbl with dirty attatched bathroom R150. Dbl with dirty shared bathroom R150. Only for the desperate.
- ® Hotel Blue Ocean (418499, 412577, email email@example.com)
/ Clean, light and airy, very tidy rooms with telephone. Sgl $6, with TV $7. Dbl $8, with TV $9.
- Hotel Bikram (425827, 424668, firstname.lastname@example.org), restaurant and bar,
Satghumtee / Fairly basic rooms, rooftop garden. Sgl R200, R350 with TV. Dbl R250/R350, R400/550 with TV. What you may not like: fairly noisy place. Travel desk, laundry service.
- Hotel Red Planet (432879, email@example.com)
Thamel, tel. Down a side street next to Tom and Jerry Pub. Reasonably clean rooms look onto an open hallway. Roof top garden and simple breakfast provided. Sgl with attatched bath R350, dbl attatched bath R500. Discounts for long stay.
- Kathmandu Guest House (413632, firstname.lastname@example.org), Thamel
Chowk / The first hotel in Thamel. Huge entrance leads to travel agencies and restaurants. Childrens play area, cinema. Very clean and comfortable rooms. Sgl R500/800. Dbl 1000/1600. More for rooms with a/c.
A classic and historical place to stay, but maybe not at the price.
- Hotel Eco 2000 (436913, email@example.com), 29
Ward / Very clean, light and airy rooms with sofa, table and TV. Tiny garden area. Sgl $15, dbl $17. Despite the stupid name, a various serious hotel operation, although they need to discount their prices outside the peak season.
- ® Hotel Iceland View (416686, firstname.lastname@example.org)
/ Clean, light and airy rooms, all with attatched bathrooms. Reasonably quiet area. Sgl R300, dbl R400.
- Hotel Garuda (416340, 414766, 416776. Email email@example.com)
/ Very clean rooms, all with attatched bathroom. Excellent restaurant. A favourite with mountaineering expeditions. Sgl no TV, no phone $7, dbl no TV, no phone $11. With phone and TV sgl $11, dbl $14. Also rooms with a/c sgl $25, dbl $30.
- New Hotel Florid (416155, 439209, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
/ Restaurant and garden area. Rooms clean and tidy. With attatched bathroom, sgl/dbl $6. Or with TV, telephone and balcony sgl/dbl $10. Good value.
- Hotel Mona (422151, 425735, email@example.com)
/ Kirin Restaurant and Bar. Rooftop garden. Rooms are gloomy and basic, with attatched bath. Sgl R400, dbl R600. Not worth it at this price.
- Hotel Traveler's Home (416917) / Untidy rooftop garden. Restaurant done out in classic hippy style. Basic rooms, sgl/dbl $3 with shared bathroom, $5 with attatched bathroom.
- Hotel Buddha (413366, 425906, firstname.lastname@example.org)
/ Large, modern hotel. Well furnished rooms all with attatched bathroom. Restaurant, safety deposit box. Standard sgl $12, dbl $15. Standard a/c sgl $15, dbl $20. Deluxe a/c rooms $5 more.
- ® Hotel Tilicho (410132, 423643), Tridevi Marg (road that leads from King's Palace to Thamel
Chowk) / Restaurant, rooftop garden. All rooms doubles with attatched bathroom. Very clean and comfortable. Extra chairs, tables. $8 sgl, $12 dbl. Good restaurant meal and service.
- Tibet Holiday Inn (423530, 423463, email@example.com), restaurant and bar, Tridevi
Marg / All rooms are doubles with attatched bathroom, telephone and TV. Adequate standard. Sgl $7, dbl $9. This hotel will discount heavily for week or longer stay.
- Potala Tourist Home (410303, 426109 email firstname.lastname@example.org), Tridevi
Marg / Rooms a little run down but otherwise clean. With attatched bathroom sgl R400 dbl R450. With common bathroom sgl R250 dbl R300. Quiet area. Prices a little too steep.
- Hotel Panda (424683, 414597 email email@example.com), Bhagwan
Bahal / Light, airy rooms. Tidy, clean with attatched bathrooms. Sgl R350, dbl R400.
- Hotel Earth House (422982, 418197 email firstname.lastname@example.org), Bhagwan
Bahal / Clean, tidy rooms with attached bathroom dbl R500 sgl R350. Also a few rooms with common bathroom dbl/sgl R200.
- Shakti Hotel (410121, 429508, email email@example.com), Bhagwan
Bahal / One of the first hotels in Thamel. Clean rooms with attatched bathrooms. Dbl R500, sgl R400. Also some rooms with common bathrooms, sgl R200. What you may not like: Expensive restaurant serves bad food. Defective plumbing in some rooms.
- Hotel Star ( 411000, email firstname.lastname@example.org), near Thamel
Chowk / Very basic but clean rooms, all with common bathroom. Very quiet. Laundry service. Dbl R200, sgl R150.
- Star Rest House (424044, 414000), next door to Hotel Star, Thamel
Chowk / Rooms clean and carpeted but very basic furniture. All rooms doubles or triples.
Attached bathrooms. Dbl R300, sgl R200.
- Hotel The Earth (260312, 260039), J.P. Road / One of Thamel's oldest hotels. Quiet. Faded carpets in hallway lead to double bedded rooms with attatched bathroom. Clean and basic. Dbl R350 sgl R300. What you may not like: lots of cables untidily running under and over hallway carpets.
- Hotel Gaia (260055, email@example.com), near Thamel
Chowk / In a quiet location. Basic rooms, all with attatched bathroom. Rather shabby. What you may not like: ugly concrete stairwell to get to the rooms. Dbl R300, sgl R250.
- Hotel Horizon (220904, 220927, firstname.lastname@example.org)
/ A well maintained hotel with nice garden. Clean rooms with telephone and attatched bathrooms. Dbl $10, sgl $8.
- Hotel Pyramid (246949, 252520, email@example.com), behind J.P.
School / A huge lobby area with fountain leads to clean rooms but worn out fittings. Dbl $8 and $6 Sgl $6 and $5.
- Hotel California (242076, firstname.lastname@example.org), opp. Hotel
Pyramid / Rooftop garden, laundry service, safety deposit box. Basic rooms with attatched bathroom Dbl R300, sgl R250. Also rooms with common bathroom. Fairly untidy place. All in all about what you would expect from a Hotel California!!
- Tibet Guest House (254888, 260556, email@example.com), Chhetrapati
Chowk / A large and splendid hotel with all facilities plus beautiful rooftop garden. Luxurious rooms with TV, telephone etc. Some with a/c. To $60. I was quoted standard dbl $15, standard sgl $12.
- Katmandu View Guest House (257482), Chhetrapati
Chowk / Cramped basic rooms in a "condo"-style building. With attatched bathroom dbl R350, sgl R250. Also rooms with common bathroom.
- Om Tara Guest House (259634), Chhetrapati / Clean but oh so faded, basic rooms. Room with attatched bathroom dbl R400/300, sgl R300/250. Also rooms with common bathroom. Filtered water provided for guests.
- Hotel Tayoma (244149, 255977, firstname.lastname@example.org),
Chhetrapati / Restaurant and bar. All rooms with TV and phone, very clean but a little worn. Dbl R500, sgl R400.
- Khangsar Guest House (260788, 252988, email@example.com),
Chhetrapati / Also restaurant and Internet café . All rooms doubles with attatched bathroom. A little worn but clean. Dbl/sgl $5
- Shiva's Damaru Guest House (262765, 264489),
905-Thamel / Live with a large, friendly family. Gloomy hallway leads to basic but clean rooms with attatched bathroom. Dbl R200, sgl R150.
Freak Street Area :
- Park Guest House (247487), Durbar Square, Basantpur
/ Also restaurant and rooftop garden. Rooms clean but fixtures all worn and looking a little run down. With attatched bathroom sgl R350, dbl R450, With common bathroom sgl R200, dbl R250. Laundry service, safety deposit box, storage facility. Extra discount for long staying guest.
- ® Traveller's Paradise Guest House and Restaurant (240602), Freak Street, Jhochhen
Tole / Basic but clean double rooms. Common bathroom. R100 sgl, R200 dbl. Vegetarian restaurant. For a budget stay, you won't find better.
- Hotel Eden (258380), Freak Street, Jhochhen Tole / Rooftop garden. Also travel agency. Rooms a little basic and rundown. What you may not like: An ancient elevator connects floors. Sgl R200 Dbl 300.
- Hotel Sugat (245824, 246454, firstname.lastname@example.org), Durbar
Square / A wooden stairway leads you to adequate but rather worn rooms. With attatched bathroom sgl R300, dbl R350. With common bathroom sgl R110, dbl R300. In the lowest season these prices should be heavily reduced. But a fantastic location for a hotel; right in the historic area.
- Annapurna Lodge (247684), near Durbar Square, Jhochhen
Tole / Restaurant, small movie hall. Clean and basic rooms. With attatched bathrooms, sgl R250, dbl R300. With common bathroom, sgl R150, dbl R200. Quiet, fine ambiance. For those who like things simple.
Patan (Lalitpur) Durbar Square : As you approach the walled city of Patan, you will pass a couple of de-luxe hotels. Apart from these, the under-mentioned two are the only places to stay in this fabled city.
- The Third World (522187, email email@example.com), Durbar Square (Behind Krishna Temple), Mangal Bazaar,
Patan / Also a restaurant. Clean but only average double rooms with attatched bathroom $20, dbls with common bathroom. $15. Discounts apply for long stayy. What you may not like: the charge for the room. But weigh this against the fact that you are right behind one on the Hindu world's most sacred temples!!
- Café de Patan Guest House (537599, 530208, email firstname.lastname@example.org), Durbar Square, Mangal Bazaar,
Patan / Also restaurant and travel agency. Basic but clean. Sgl with common bath, R300, dbl R400. Sgl with attatched bath R500, dbl R600. Very popular guest house, often fully booked by study groups. Book in advance. Excellent location in this historic city.
Backpacker's Tips : Johan & Clara, Belgium
« We was in the Via Via Café in the Thamel area Kathmandu during Oct 2006.
A great place to use the dinner. 5-star Western and Nepali food. We used the
Nepali Thali and it was supper !! The owners are verry friendly and you can also
have basic accomodation with prices 10-25 USD double room. They offer organised
trekkings and tours visiting the beautiful Unesco sites and Himalays. You can
also attend cooking courses.
Yust to say that we had a great day riding around with the "Royal Enfield" motor
bickes. Thanks a lot Yves to have this organised and please make this a new item
"must do" in the Via Via Café activities !!
This gives Guests a possibility to see at least 3 Sites , Pashupatinath / Monkey
Temple and Bodhnath in the Kathmandu Valley in one day. Ending up with a visit
at a real traditional Newari food corner in Kathmandu city center and try the
Newari snacks was a great idea we loved.
Yves from the Via Via Cafe is doing this "Royal Enfield" trips in cooperation
with Peter Francon. He has his business also in Nepal and India taking
travellers with him on his Royal Enfields for bicke trips in Nepal and India
Where to eat ? Very few restaurant owners actually own the building the restaurant is in, and they have to adjust the meal prices according to the market rate of renting properties. In many areas like Thamel and Lakeside, Pokhara, these have doubled in the last year. Consequently, prices for similar food varies greatly from one area of Kathmandu to another. If you need to budget, shop around to find a restaurant you are happy with. For authentic Indian cuisine at a great price, try the restuarants along Kantipath. For excellent Thai food at a middle price, try Krua Thai Restaurant in Thamel. For high quality meats to stuff into a sandwich, go to the Vienna Gourmet Delicatessen on Kantipath. For a snack, buy a samosa at R3 each at any street away from Thamel. For a good meal at cheap price within Thamel, why not try Khana Ghar Restaurant. Imported, high-quality steaks can be had at the Everest Steak House, Chhetrapati Chowk. If you don't see what you want on the menu but still want a better-than-average meal, look at the restaurant in the Tibet Guest House, just on the other side of the road from Everest Steak House. Pubs come and go with alarming regularity in Thamel, but still there after all these years is the ever popular Tom and Jerry Pub. Also the Maya Pub at Thamel Chowk serving loud music, good priced beer and resonable snacks. Try their tuna, cheese and mayonaisse stuffed, pitta-bread roll. The New Orleans pub has now become a very popular coffee shop, although it still sells beers. It is situated in the very heart of Thamel. Why not pop into one of the high-class restaurants around the King's Palace for a morning coffee and a sweet snack. For less than $3 you are living like a King!
Communications ? The Central Post Office is at the southern end of Kantipath, by the Bhimsen Tower. It is open Sunday to Thursday from 10.15 to 16.00 (until 15.00 in winter) and from 10.15 to 14.00 on Friday. International phone calls are best made from one of the various shops in Thamel or elsewhere that offer the service. Prices are generally around R80 per minute but many are now offering telephone via Internet at R30 per minute or lower, or forward-dialling services at about R40 per mintes. There is no need for me to give you a list of Internet cafes. They are everywhere in Thamel and elsewhere throughout the city and are offering rates as low as R25 per hour! At this price you won't find any place cheaper, anywhere!
Banks and money matters ? In the last year several ATM machines, most of them accepting both Mastercard and Visa, have opened up in convenient tourist and business areas. Standard Chartered's ATMs can be found at Naya Baneshwore, Kantipath, the Kathmandu Guest House and the Yin and Yang restaurant, both these last two in Thamel. Himalayan bank have their ATM's at Patan, Maharajgunj, Thamel and New Road. Nabil Bank's ATMs are to be found in Kantipath, Patan and New Road. If you want to do an over-the-counter transaction, you will find the major banks along Kantipath. The carpet sellers will ask you if you want to change money. They are referring only to U.S. Dollars and, perhaps, Sterling and you might get an extra Rupee or so for your Dollar than the bank will give you. You will be ushered into the back of their shop where the transaction will take place. It is quite safe and, of course, illegal! See the General information on Nepal page for more information.
What to see in Kathmandu and Patan ?
This is a small garden 2 kms north of Thamel, on the road that leads to Trisuli. A favourite picnic spot, especially on Saturdays, the gardens house a Hindu temple with a sleeping Bishnu, a fish pond, a bathing area with 22 stone spouts, only of which a few now gush water. There is also a swimming pool (R40, Thursday is for ladies only). Much more intersesting than all these is to walk among large bamboo stands in the forest behind the temple. A path leads to large water storage facilities that provide water to the area. Admission to the gardens is R5.
To get to the Water Gardens, walk out of Thamel onto Naya Bazaar and cross the open sewer and garbage dump, better known as the Bishnumati River. Pass the Balaju Industrial Estate and a further 500 metres on your left-hand side is the garden.
After leaving the gardens, turn left and continue for another 2 kms. You will come to Nagarjun Ban, or Rani Ban - the Queens Forest. Here you can walk for kilometres through forest and climb to the summit, at 2096 metres, where there is a Buddhist stupa.
If you continue a further couple of kilometres on the Trisuli Road, you'll pass many small settlements amongst rice paddy. It is hard to believe that this, true rural Nepal, is so close to the capital.
Along the road are many restaurants, for this is a favourite "get away from the city" spot. One of the busier is the restaurant-cum-retreat for followers of the Hindu mystic, Osho.
- Swayambhu(nath), the monkey temple :
Dominating a hill overlooking Kathmandu's western section, this stupa is revered by Newari Buddhists and is a pilgrimage site for believers from all over Nepal. You will see many pilgrims, some having walked for days to arrive here. Around the base of the hill, still being built after many years work, are thousands of prayer wheels. The faithful walk for over 2 kms around the hill and then proceed up the staircase to the stupa itself. A R50 donation is asked for to enter. From here you will have a bird's eye view of the whole Kathmandu valley. This site has been a sacred spot for over 2000 years. It is also called the monkey temple for the huge number of monkeys that inhabit the area. Take care! They are not necessarily friendly because the locals taunt them.
To get to Swayambu from Thamel, walk to Chhetrapati Chowk and then make a sharp turn and follow the road that is sign-posted Shova Bhagawati. Walk all way down the road and cross the bridge over the Bishnumati River (stopping to marvel that kids would swim in such filthy water). At this point of the river you'll pass cremation ghats. Proceed up the steps and follow the muddy road to the stupa, which can be seen dominating the horizon.
Another entry point to the stupa is to walk around the hill and enter at the Anand Kuti Vihar monastery, walking up a stone staircase.
A small Natural History Museum is also situated at the base of the hill (open 1000 to 1700 except Saturday) where you can see many stuffed animals.
If you walk around the base to the other side of the hill you can see the recently-constructed, huge, golden Buddha and the still being built Temple of 1000 Buddhas. Cross over the ring road and climb up the other hill to Osel Ling monastery. There is even a small guest house situated halfway up the hill; the Peace Kathmandu View G.H. Although the monastery is nothing special to look at, return back to the ring road by walking to the back of the monastery and following the narrow track back. From here you can see the forest of Rani Ban and you'll pass small, mud-built houses without electricity supply. This is rural Nepal within earhot of Kathmandu's ring road.
- Kathmandu Durbar Square (Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square), Basantapur
An incredible monument to the Hindu faith, this is a must see. The area is actually a living museum, as there are many businesses and residences here. Admission to the area is R200, but your ticket is valid for one week and many visitors make several visits to sit on the temples and take in the atmosphere, or to visit friends they may make. If you enter the Square from New Road, you'll pass scores of trinket and souvenir stalls, and the famous Freak Street. The old Royal Palace and Mahendra and Tribhuvan Museums dominate Basantapur Square and at the eastern end is Kumari Ghar, the home of Kumari, the living goddess who is revered by Kathmanduites. On a recent visit to Durbar Square I caught a glimpse of the young girl as she was being carried in to the house to offer tika to the King. Several mandirs are dotted about the site and you'll see many saadhus (ascetic holy men) sitting around. Several of the temples contain erotic wood carvings but those on Jagannath Temple are the best preserved.
The city of Patan is today actually part of greater Kathmandu but there is no doubt that when you enter Patan Gate into the city, also called Lalitpur (City of Beauty), the feeling is quite different from the rest of Kathmandu. The pace of life seems slower, and the narrow mud and stone streets that lead into courtyards seems changeless. Here you will find far fewer high-rise buildings. To enter the city one should pay R200 entry fee, but there are many entrances and the ticket booths are not always manned.
To get to Patan from Thamel, walk south all the way down Kantipath passing Bhimsen tower on your right and the national stadium on your left. Bear left and then turn right to cross the Bagmati River bridge, recently constructed with Japanese aid. Walk uphill along Kupandal Inar, passing a couple of luxury hotels and then turn left to pass through Patan Gate and into the city proper.
Durbar Square contains many mandirs to Hindu gods and the Royal Palace (for Patan was at one time an independent kingdom). There is also a museum with bronzeware and wooden carvings and several photos of bygone days. About five minutes north of Durbar Square is the ornate Golden Temple (Hiranyabarna Mahabihar), a monastery and temple built in the 12th century with an amazing gold plated roof. Two lions sitting on elephants guard its entrance. Some way to the south lies the Mahabauddha Temple which was severly damaged in the 1934 earthquake. Each of the bricks inside the building contains an image of Buddha.
A good way to see all this and other sites would be to hire one of the several guides who will pester you as you enter the square. Several are very knowledgeable and can command a good fee. Some of the young kids will know where the sites are but perhaps not much else.
While you are in Patan, why not visit Nepal's only zoo. It is barely fifteen minutes walk. Ask directions because everyone knows where it is, or take a taxi for less than R40. In the zoo are animals from all over south Asia. You can have a picnic on the lawns, row a boat in a small lake or ride an elephant.
Pashupati is the most sacred Hindu temple in Nepal and was the cremation site for the recently massacred Royal Family. Down by the sacred Bagmati River devotees can be seen bathing, even though the river is very polluted, and the ghats are cremating the dead all day long. There are many areas where non-Hindus are not allowed to enter, especially the Inner Temple complex, but Pashupati is a large area and well worth a visit by non Hindus.
Inside the complex is a school for poor children and a home for the elderly. At one end steps lead up a hill and from the top a good view of the whole area can be had. One of the resident pandits, Dudh Baba, is something of a local celebrity and a favourite with the kids who live here. He is welcomed with shouts of glee when he appears.
By far the easiest way to get to Pashupati from Thamel is by paying around R120 for a taxi ride. Or you can walk to the RNAC building on Kantipath and ask for the tempo (tuk tuk) that goes to Chabahil Chowk on the ring road. Fare is about R8. Get off there and walk to the temple site in about ten minutes.
Recent development: In September 2001, the newly elected PM and his government passed a new resolution that allows Dalits, the lowest castes, also known as untouchables, the right to enter Pashupati. Just another sign that Nepal is slowly losing its caste-structured society.
If you leave Pashupatinath at the Kumarigal exit you are just twenty minutes walk to Boudha. Walk to the ring road and at Chabahil Chowk turn right onto the road called Boudha Nath (the road that goes to Sankhu). Walk down the road for about ten minutes and you'll arrive there.
Boudhanath is the largest stupa in Nepal and the largest Tibetan monument outside of Tibet. Many Tibetan refugees live in this area and, especially during the last 20 years they have constructed many monasteries in the roads behind the stupa. Among these more than 20 monasteries, all four orders of Tibetan Buddhism are represented. The exact age of the stupa is not known, but historians agree that it is about 1500 years old. You can climb quite high up the base of the stupa and you will join several of the faithful, many of them (both westerners and easterners) meditating or turning prayer wheels. As many people come here to study Buddhism many restaurants and guest houses have opened, especially in the last few years.
At the northern side of the stupa is a shrine to Ajima, protector of children.
A Newar town at 1400 metres above sea level, some 7 kms southwest of Kathmandy City centre that contains many well preserved Newar houses. Nowadays, the town itself has been swallowed by the urban sprawl of Kathmandu but it still retains is unique "feel" and is well worth a visit.
You can walk to Kirtipur from Thamel in about 2.5 hours, but it is not a particularly
enjoyable walk. Perhaps best would be to walk to Swayambhu (the monkey temple) and take a taxi to the Tribhuvan University campus. Then walk through the campus that lies at the foot of the hill that dominates Kirtipur. As you approach Kirtipur you will see a large Buddhist
Stupa. Walk from here to the treed hillock that is the centre of the town. Here you'll see a changeless Newar lifestyle; people drying crops, collecting fodder for their animals etc., right in the town centre. At the top of the hill is another Buddhist
Stupa, the Chilandra Stupa. Just beyond this is the Hindu temple Bagh Bhairabsthan and from here a good view of the entire Kathmandu valley can be had. This temple was first constructed in the 11th century. If you walk to the south side of the town, the view is of rice paddy terraces, slowly being encroached upon by new houses. Many of them contain small carpet factories.
Kirtipur is famous as being an anti-royalist stronghold, and the Maoist rebels have held rallies here.
Strongly patriotic to their Newar language, the first FM radio license for a non-Nepali language station will probably be awarded here shortly.
Bhaktapur, the City of Devotees, was founded in the 9th century and is known as the third city of Kathmandu, although it actually is situated outside of the valley proper. It lies some 12 kms southeast of Kathmandu City centre and can be reached by bus. Note that the trolley bus service that connected Kathmandu with Bhaktapur was suspended in December 2001. An entrance fee of US$10 is charged to enter the city.
A great effort has been made by German organisations to clean the city, provide sewerage
facilities etc. and to preserve and restore the many Hindu temples and monuments. Almost untouched by Buddhist influence, the people here maintain their customs and go about their jobs as potters, farmers etc. as they have for centuries.
As the capital of an ancient kingdom Bhaktapur, like Patan and Katmandu, has a Durbar Square and a royal palace. A guide will show you the Golden Gate, Telaju Chowk and the National Art Gallery. Have a snack in one of the cafes at Taumadhi Tol and then walk around Potters' Square. Then visit the woodcarving and brass museums inside Pujari Math.
This city is definitely worth a couple of days stay and accommodation can be found here. The Golden Gate Guest House right on Durbar Square charges R150 for an adequate room and right at the far western gate, the Typical Guest House offers rustic rooms for R75/R100.
The tourist bus park is at the northern part of the city, at Yelachhe Tol, although it is just as easy to walk south over the bridge at Lakulachhe Tol and wave down a bus on the Arniko highway.
Backpacker's Tips : Kerstin Eyrich, Germany (April 02)
« Durbar square: at the time when I was there (sept.2001) it was easy to get into the place without paying, simply refuse, smile and walk through.... girls have better chances however, as my boyfriend always had to discuss a bit while
I was already waiting inside, but he always managed, still. or you could just come from freak street, and walk in behind the ticket booth.
/ I saw the child-goddess Kumari at one of the few opportunities when she leaves her home, that was during Indra Jatra, a big festival taking place in
August/September, when she is pulled around the town on a wooden carriage. But beware, at the same time 2 little boys are dressed up like her as well, so to confuse the public, they are supposed to
represent Bhairab and Ganesh. Further parts of the festival were mask dances in Kathmandu
streets, god figures like a huge elephant god consisting of 2 men under a bamboo-and-fabric-cover who couldn't see anything and knocked the people off their asses!
Pashupatinaht : maybe you have already heard of the weightlifting Sadhu... Not that the stones he lifted were
especially heavy, but the part of the body he did it with is rather exceptional... you might guess it, he uses his lingam to perform this deed!
How to find him: across the bridge, accept one of the boys who offer themselves as guards, they might eventually ask if you want to see something very special and lead you to a small hut (somewhere right after the bridge) where this holy man dwells.
Otherwise, you might just ask around, somebody will show you the way. negotiate about the price, if you are in a small group you might be able to see the performance for about
Rs 50 per person.»
Moving On ?
Tribuvhan International Airport lies just beyond the ring road to the southeast of Kathmandu and a taxi from Thamel should set you back no more than R150.This airport is also used for domestic flights to/from Kathmandu.
The premier tourist bus service is Greenline buses. Their schedule changes periodically, but currently they operate services from Kathmandu to Lumbini, Pokhara and Chitwan. The buses leave their terminal at Tridevimarg at 0830. Telephone 257544/253885. Email email@example.com
Other "tourist class" buses leave for Pokhara from Kantipath at 0730. There are many to choose from. Buy a ticket at any one of many travel agents in Thamel for R250/R350, or board the bus at the time of travel and pay then.
The Old Bus Park, also called the City Bus Park is is the station to head for for most destinations in the Valley area and just beyond. It is situated between Bagh Bazaar and Durbar Marg roads. Buses for Nagarkot leave from here, although many agencies now sell tickets for a "tousist" bus at R80.
The Central Bus Station, also called Long Distance Bus Park or the New/Naya Bus Park (why so many names?) is just off the ring road at Gungabu, in the north of
Backpacker's Tips : Michieli Roberto,
Italy (Jan 04)
« Beware to the guides that try to explain you all
the monuments of the city, they only want money and are not real guides, many
places like Durban square are very difficult to visit by yourself, every moment
samebody ask you "I'm a student, I can explain you everything about this place"
Very very boring! About the prices: Kathmandu guest house single economy room
with bathroom 12$ (no a good choise, there are many places where you spent 8$
for the same quality but, ok, here you are at the "Kathmandu Guest House"!!!)»