Chapagaon is an attractive Newari village of tall brick houses, but its central square is cut in two by the road to Tika Bhairab and the rumbling gravel lorries rather destroy the atmosphere. Beside the road are a number of shrines, including temples to Bhairab, Krishna and Narayan, but the main attraction here is the Vajra Varahi Temple, about 500m east of the main road on the back route to Godavari (turn left by the Narayan Temple).
Set in a peaceful wood, this important Tantric temple was built in 1665 and it attracts lots of wedding parties, pilgrims and picnickers who descend en masse on Saturdays. Visitors pour milk and offerings over the statue of a bull in front of the temple and make similar offerings to the image of Vajra Varahi, an incarnation of the ‘female Buddha’ Vajrayogini. There are lots of birds in the forest – check the sign by the car park for a list of species.
For a bit of exploring further afield, you can head towards the Lele Valley, which runs east off the valley of the Nakhu Khola, about 5km south of Chapagaon. Few tourists make it out here and the valley offers a window into a way of life that is fast vanishing in other parts of the Kathmandu Valley.
To get to Lele, follow the trucking road south from Chapagaon to the Tika Bhairab, a large rock shrine with a multicoloured painting of Bhairab, set at the confluence of two rivers. Buses run here from Chapagaon.