Changu Narayan Temple
Perched atop a narrow ridge due north of Bhaktapur, the beautiful and historic temple of Changu Narayan is a living museum of carvings from the Licchavi period. The temple is a Unesco World Heritage Site and rightly so, because the statues, and the temple itself, are genuine works of art.
Gokarna Mahadev Temple
Set beside the Bagmati River, which at this stage is a comparatively clear mountain stream, the Gokarna Mahadev (Gokarneshwar, or Lord of Gokarna) Temple is an easy 5km trip from Bodhnath on the road to Sundarijal. You can make a day of it by combining a visit to the temple with the interesting hike to Kopan Monastery and back to Bodhnath.
The red-brick town of Sankhu was once an important stop on the old trade route from Kathmandu to Lhasa (Tibet), but this historic settlement was severely damaged by the 2015 earthquake. The imposing Vajrayogini Temple still stands on the hillside north of the village, but the winding brick backstreets and traditional squares of the old town were devastated.
The 188-hectare forest at Gokarna was formerly set aside as a hunting reserve for the Nepali royal family, which saved it from the woodcutters. Today, the sound of gunshots has been replaced by the thwack of flying golf balls. The forest forms part of the Gokarna Forest Resort Golf Course, which was designed by the team behind the famous Gleneagles course in Scotland.
Thimi, known historically as Madhyapur, was once the fourth-largest town in the valley. Today, it’s a sleepy backwater but its winding, brick-paved streets are lined with medieval temples. The town takes its modern name from the Newari phrase for ‘capable people’, which is fitting as the town is a major centre for the production of pottery and papier-mâché masks.