Kathmandu is a city of festivals and temples. I have not yet been able to count how many little temples I pass on my way to work here and how many festivals have been celebrated since I arrived. Just wandering around will bring you by countless temples and shrines. But do make sure not to miss these five.
This large stupa has been badly damaged by the earthquake but has been beautifully rebuilt. Thousands of Buddhists from all over the world visit this stupa every year, walking around it clockwise murmuring prayers and turning the prayer wheels. It’s stunning in the evening light, and also during the night, when it is lit by dozens of little lights. Extra tip: Enjoy the view of the stupa from one of the many rooftop-terrace-restaurants surrounding it. My favourite is the newly opened branch from Thamel-Pizza-house “Roadhouse”.
A serene experience by the Bagmati River is a visit to Pashupatinah. Here by the riverside Hindus cremate their dead on open fires, and afterwards brush the ashes into the river. Dead and grief is not something dealt with in private here in Nepal, but it is happening out in public, and it is best felt here by the banks of the Bagmati, where people farewell their deceased relatives while others stroll by the riverside for a nice Sunday out or even a timid date afternoon.
Swayambu – the Monkey Temple
My favourite temple, because who doesn’t enjoy watching cute little monkeys tending to their monkey business. Watching the busy little fellows also helps to take your mind away from the steep stairway to the top of the hill, where a beautiful, huge stupa is situated. Also: the view over the city you get from up here, is worth the climb too.
Tucked away in a side street of busy Patan, the golden temple is a hidden surprise, complete with golden statues of angry gods and peaceful godesses, monkey sculptures and prayer wheels and the smell of little oil lamps and burning incense and chanting devotees. The perfect place to let your senses become completly overwhelmed by these ancient customs.
Patan Durbar Square
A stunning collection of temples and a vibrant hub of Patan daily life. Patan Durbar Square is always busy with tourists snapping fotos of the newly rebuild temples, by locals hanging out on the many benches surrounding the temples, by souvenir vendors trying to score a deal and by young boys selling cotton candy to kids and adults alike. And if you are in need of a bit of quiet time, make sure not to miss the museum with its beautiful garden. Or visit the square during the night, when even busy Patan quiets down and all you hear is the occasional bark of some lonely street dog.
Entry to all the temples can be bought on the spot and costs between 100Nrs (Golden Temple) and 1000Nrs (Pashupatinah). You need a ticket to cross Patan Durbar Square, so if you want to revisit the square, or stay in the area for a while, ask the ticket officer for a multi-day-entry-card. The price is the same as for one entry. You will need to bring your passport and a small portrait foto of yourself.