Must see attractions in Around the Kathmandu Valley

  • Sights in Patan

    Durbar Square (Patan)

    The ancient royal palace of Patan faces on to magnificent Durbar Sq. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in Nepal. Temple construction in the square went into overdrive during the Malla period (14th to 18th centuries), particularly during the reign of King Siddhinarsingh Malla (1619–60). It's well worth at least a half-day trip from Kathmandu.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Patan

    Golden Temple (Kwa Bahal)

    This unique Buddhist monastery is just north of Durbar Sq. It was allegedly founded in the 12th century, and it has existed in its current form since 1409. The temple gets its name from the gilded metal plates that cover most of its frontage and it is one of the most beautiful in Patan.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bhaktapur

    Golden Gate

    The magnificent Golden Gate is a visual highlight of Durbar Sq. Set into a bright red gatehouse surrounded by white palace walls, the fabulous golden portal boasts some of Nepal's finest repoussé metalwork. The gilded torana features a fabulous Garuda wrestling with a number of supernatural serpents, while below is a four-headed and 10-armed figure of the goddess Taleju Bhawani, the family deity of the Malla kings.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bhaktapur

    Nyatapola Temple

    You should be able to see the sky-high rooftop of the Nyatapola Temple long before you reach Taumadhi Tole. With five storeys towering 30m above the square, this is the tallest temple in all of Nepal and one of the tallest buildings in the Kathmandu Valley. This perfectly proportioned temple was built in 1702 during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla, and the construction was so sturdy that the 1934 and 2015 earthquakes caused only minor damage.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Patan

    Mul Chowk

    South of the Patan Museum, a gateway opens onto the stately Mul Chowk, the largest and oldest of the Royal Palace’s three main chowk (squares). The original buildings were destroyed by fire in 1662 but rebuilt just three years later by Srinivasa Malla. The temples in the courtyard were restored in 2014 and the surrounding walls and buildings were quickly restored after the 2015 earthquake.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Patan

    Patan Museum

    Formerly the residence of the Malla kings, the section of the Royal Palace surrounding Keshav Narayan Chowk now houses one of the finest collections of religious art in Asia. The museum is a national treasure and an invaluable introduction to the art, symbolism and architecture of the valley. You need at least an hour, and preferably two, to do this place justice, and it’s worth taking a break at the Museum Café before diving in for another round.

  • Sights in Patan

    Royal Palace

    Forming the entire eastern side of Durbar Sq, the Royal Palace of Patan was originally built in the 14th century, and expanded during the 17th and 18th centuries by Siddhinarsingh Malla, Srinivasa Malla and Vishnu Malla. The Patan palace predates the palaces in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur and remains one of the architectural highlights of Nepal.

  • Sights in Budhanilkantha

    Reclining Statue of Vishnu

    Budhanilkantha's focal point for devotions is a large reclining statue of Vishnu as Narayan, the creator of all life. From his navel grew a lotus and from the lotus came Brahma, who in turn created the world. The 5m-long Licchavi-style image was created in the 7th or 8th century from one piece of black stone and hauled here from outside the valley by devotees. It’s one of the most impressive pieces of sculpture in Nepal, and that’s saying something!

  • Sights in Nagarkot

    Lookout Tower

    A popular spot to soak in the Himalayan splendour is this tower, perched at 2164m on a ridge, although the rising vegetation can obscure the vista. It’s around an hour’s walk (4km) south from the village, and best at sunrise. If you’re not up for a dark and chilly walk, taxis and private cars (return Rs 1200) are easily arranged through any hotel or the tourist offices.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Patan

    Krishna Mandir

    Heading into Durbar Sq, you can’t miss the splendid Krishna Mandir built by King Siddhinarsingh Malla in 1637. Constructed from carved stone – in place of the usual brick and timber – this fabulous architectural confection shows the clear influence of Indian temple design and is the earliest stone temple of its type in Nepal. The temple stayed intact through the 2015 earthquake.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Patan

    Sundari Chowk

    South of Mul Chowk is the smaller Sundari Chowk, arranged around a superbly carved sunken water tank known as the Tusha Hiti. The chowk was restored in 2014, and again after the 2015 earthquake. Built in 1647, the renovated water tank has 72 carved stone plaques depicting Tantric deities and was used by the king for ritual ablutions. The spout is new; the original was stolen in 2010 (and recovered). Ancient carved wooden struts lie scattered in the corners.

  • Sights in Nuwakot

    Saat Tale Durbar

    The centrepiece of the village is the Saat Tale Durbar, a seven-storey fortress built in 1762 by Prithvi Narayan Shah as his family palace after taking the town. The town served as Nepal’s capital until Shah conquered the Kathmandu Valley six years later. This was also where the great king died in 1775. The building suffered severe cracks in the earthquake and the interior was offlimits to visitors at the time of the writing.

  • Sights in Patan

    Golden Gate

    The entry to Patan Museum is through the Royal Palace's superb Golden Gate. Installed in 1734, this finely engraved and gilded gateway is topped by a golden torana showing Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh and Kumar (an incarnation of Skanda, the god of war).

  • Sights in Namobuddha

    Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery

    At the top of Namobuddha hill, the magnificent Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery is a sprawling Tibetan Buddhist monastic complex with gleaming golden arched roofs, officially opened in December 2008. Over 250 monks live here, including many young monks attending its school. Day visitors can sit in the back of the main hall during meditation sessions. Just follow the chanting…

  • Sights in The Eastern Valley

    Changu Narayan Temple

    This temple is said to be the oldest Hindu temple still in use in the Kathmandu Valley. Built in the two-tiered pagoda style, the main shrine here is guarded on all sides by pairs of real and mythical beasts – elephants, lions, winged lions and ram-horned griffons – and its roof struts feature some amazingly intricate carvings of Tantric deities. Changu Narayan and its associated buildings were badly affected by the 2015 earthquake however; restoration of the complex is under way.

  • Sights in Patan

    Rato Machhendranath Temple

    Almost directly across the road from the Minnath Temple, down an alley, a white-columned gateway leads to the wide, open square containing the revered Rato Machhendranath Temple. Dedicated to the god of rain and plenty, the temple, like so many in Nepal, blurs the line between Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhists regard Rato (Red) Machhendranath as an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, while Hindus see him as an incarnation of Shiva.

  • Sights in Bhaktapur

    Potters’ Square

    Hidden down shop-lined alleyways leading south from the curving road to Taumadhi Tole, Potters’ Sq is exactly what you would expect – a public square full of potter's wheels and rows of clay pots drying in the sun. Nearby buildings were damaged by the 2015 earthquake, but life – and pottery – in the square continues.

  • Sights in The Eastern Valley

    Gokarna Mahadev Temple

    Dedicated to Shiva as Mahadeva (Great God), this handsome three-tiered temple is a fine example of Newari pagoda style. The main reason to come is to see the exquisite stone carvings dotted around the compound, some dating back more than a thousand years.

  • Sights in Bhaktapur

    Bhairabnath Temple

    The broad-fronted, triple-roofed Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to Bhairab, the fearsome incarnation of Shiva, whose consort occupies the Nyatapola Temple across the square. Despite Bhairab’s fearsome powers and his massive temple, the deity is depicted here as a disembodied head just 15cm high! Casually stacked against the north wall of the temple are the enormous wheels and runners from the chariot used to haul the image of Bhairab around town during the Bisket Jatra festival in mid-April.

  • Sights in Dakshinkali

    Dakshinkali Temple

    The blood-soaked temple of Dakshinkali, a favourite Hindu pilgrimage destination, is set at the confluence of two sacred streams in a rocky cleft in the forest. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Kali, the most bloodthirsty incarnation of Parvati. To satisfy the blood-lust of the goddess, pilgrims drag a menagerie of animals down the path to the temple to be beheaded and transformed into cuts of meat by the temple priests, who are also skilled butchers.