Asan Tole

sights / Squares & plazas

Asan Tole information

Lonely Planet review

From dawn until dusk the junction of Asan Tole is jammed with vegetable and spice vendors selling everything from yak tails to coconuts. It’s the busiest square in the city. Every day, produce is carried to this popular marketplace from all over the valley, so it is fitting that the three-storey Annapurna Temple in the southeast corner is dedicated to the goddess of abundance; Annapurna is represented by a purana (bowl) full of grain. At most times, but especially Sundays, you’ll see locals walk around the shrine, touch a coin to their heads, throw it into the temple and ring the bell above them.

Nearby the two-storey Ganesh shrine is coated in bathroom tiles. On the south side of the square is the Yita Chapal (Southern Pavilion), which was once used for festival dances (the dance platform out front is just visible underneath several stalls). Cat Stevens wrote his hippie-era song Kathmandu in a smoky teahouse in Asan Tole, penning the lines: ‘Kathmandu I’ll soon be seeing you, and your strong bewildering time will hold me down.’

On the western side of the square are spice shops. Near the centre of the square, between two potted trees, is a small Narayan shrine (Narayan is a form of Vishnu).