Must see attractions in Nepal

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lumbini

    Maya Devi Temple

    The spiritual heart of Lumbini, Maya Devi Temple marks the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in around 563BC. In the adjoining sacred garden you’ll find the pillar of Ashoka, ancient ruins of stupas, and maroon- and saffron-robed monks congregating under a sprawling Bodhi (pipal) tree decorated with prayer flags. Buy your entrance ticket 50m north of the gate to the Sacred Garden, and remove your shoes at the gate. Excavations carried out in 1992 revealed a succession of ruins dating back at least 2200 years, including a commemorative stone on a brick plinth, matching the description of a stone laid down by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. There are plans to raise a grand monument on the site, but for now a sturdy brick pavilion protects the temple ruins. You can walk around the ruins on a raised boardwalk. The focal point for pilgrims is a sandstone carving of the birth of the Buddha, reputedly left here by the Malla king, Ripu Malla, in the 14th century, when Maya Devi was worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess. The carving has been worn almost flat by centuries of veneration, but you can just discern the shape of Maya Devi grasping a tree branch and giving birth to the Buddha, with Indra and Brahma looking on. Directly beneath this is a marker stone encased within bulletproof glass, which pinpoints the spot where the Buddha was born. The sacred pond beside the temple is believed to be where Maya Devi bathed before giving birth to the Buddha. Dotted around the grounds are the ruined foundations of a number of brick stupas and monasteries dating from the 2nd century BC to the 9th century AD.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Swayambhunath

    Swayambhunath Stupa

    The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the crowning glories of Kathmandu Valley architecture. This perfectly proportioned monument rises through a whitewashed dome to a gilded spire, from where four iconic faces of the Buddha stare out across the valley in the cardinal directions. The site was shaken severely by the 2015 earthquake, but the main stupa sustained only superficial damage. The entire structure of the stupa is deeply symbolic: the white dome represents the earth, while the 13-tiered, tower-like structure at the top symbolises the 13 stages to nirvana. The nose-like squiggle below the piercing eyes is actually the Nepali number ek (one), signifying unity, and above is a third eye signifying the all-seeing insight of the Buddha. The base of the central stupa is ringed by prayer wheels embossed with the sacred mantra om mani padme hum (‘hail to the jewel in the lotus’). Pilgrims circuiting the stupa spin each one as they pass by. Fluttering above the stupa are thousands of prayer flags, with similar mantras, which are said to be carried to heaven by the Wind Horse. Set in ornate plinths around the base of the stupa are statues representing the five Dhyani Buddhas – Vairocana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi and Aksobhya – and their consorts. These deities represent the five qualities of Buddhist wisdom.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lumbini

    World Peace Pagoda

    Located outside the main compound, but easily accessible by bike, the impressive gleaming-white World Peace Pagoda, one of the world's greatest stupas, was constructed by Japanese Buddhists at a cost of US$1 million. The shining golden statue depicts the Buddha in the posture he assumed when he was born. Near the base of the stupa is the grave of a Japanese monk murdered by anti-Buddhist extremists during the construction of the monument.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lumbini

    Cambodian Monastery

    With strong touches of Angkor Wat, this colourful fantasy due for completion in 2018 is already one of the most fascinating temples in Lumbini. The temple is surrounded by a square railing topped off by four 50m green snakes whose tails entwine at the corners. The compound itself has a vast outer wall decorated with intricate designs.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lumbini

    Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery

    Close to the north end of the pond, this stunning and imposing wat (Thai-style monastery) is built from gleaming white marble. The blue-roofed meditation centre next door is another fine piece of architecture. Arguably the greatest compound in the monastic zone.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lumbini

    Zhong Hua Chinese Buddhist Monastery

    This elegant monastery is one of the most impressive structures at Lumbini. Reached through a gateway flanked by dogs of Fo, the elegant pagoda-style monastery looks like a small Forbidden City. Its perfectly manicured internal courtyard is an oasis of peace.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kathmandu

    Hanuman Dhoka

    Kathmandu's royal palace, known as the Hanuman Dhoka, was originally founded during the Licchavi period (4th to 8th centuries AD), but the compound was expanded considerably by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century. Sadly, the sprawling palace was hit hard by the 2015 earthquake and damage was extensive. At the time of research, the main Nasal Chowk courtyard was open and the Tribhuvan Museum was close to reopening, with other buildings closed for reconstruction. Even from the outside, the palace is impressive. Hanuman’s assistance to the noble Rama during the exciting events of the Ramayana has led to the monkey god’s appearance guarding many important entrances. Here, cloaked in red and sheltered by an umbrella, a Hanuman statue marks the dhoka (entrance) to the Hanuman Dhoka and has even given the palace its name. The statue dates from 1672; the god’s face has long disappeared under a coating of orange vermillion paste applied by generations of devotees. Standards bearing the double-triangle flag of Nepal flank the statue, while on each side of the palace gate are gaudy stone lions, one ridden by Shiva, the other by his wife Parvati. Above the gate a brightly painted niche is illustrated with a central figure of a ferocious Tantric version of Krishna. On the left side is the gentler Hindu Krishna in his traditional blue colour accompanied by two of his gopi (milkmaids). On the other side are King Pratap Malla and his queen. The Hanuman Dhoka originally housed 35 courtyards (chowks), but the 1934 earthquake reduced the palace to today’s 10 chowks. Nasal Chowk Your main taste of the royal palace will be this handsome courtyard inside the main entrance. Nasal Chowk was constructed in the Malla period, but many of the buildings around the square are later Rana constructions. During the Rana period, Nasal Chowk was used for coronations, a practice that continued until as recently as 2001 with the crowning of King Gyanendra here. The former coronation platform stands in the centre of the courtyard, while the damaged Basantapur (Kathmandu) Tower looms over the southern end of the courtyard. Beyond the door is the large Narsingha Statue, Vishnu in his man-lion incarnation, in the act of disembowelling a demon. The stone image was erected by Pratap Malla in 1673 and the inscription on the pedestal explains that he placed it here for fear that he had offended Vishnu by dancing in a Narsingha costume. The Kabindrapur Temple in Durbar Sq was built for the same reason. Next is the Sisha Baithak ( Audience Chamber) of the Malla kings. The open verandah houses the Malla throne and contains portraits of the Shah kings. At the northeastern corner of Nasal Chowk stands the damaged Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple, with its five circular roofs. Each of the valley towns has a five-storey temple, although it is the great Nyatapola Temple of Bhaktapur that is by far the best known. Hanuman is worshipped in the temple in Kathmandu, but only the priests may enter. In Nepali nasal means ‘dancing one’, and Nasal Chowk takes its name from the Dancing Shiva statue hidden in the whitewashed chamber on the northeastern side of the square. On display along the east side of the courtyard are the palanquins used to carry Queen Aishwarya during her wedding to Birendra in 1970 and later to transport her body to her cremation in 2001. Also displayed here is the royal throne. Tribhuvan Museum The palace wing to the west of Nasal Chowk, overlooking the main Durbar Sq area, was constructed by the Ranas in the middle to late part of the 19th century after they wrested power from the royal Shah dynasty. Ironically, it later became a museum celebrating King Tribhuvan (r 1911–55) and his successful revolt against their regime, along with memorials to Kings Mahendra (r 1955–72) and Birendra (r 1972–2001). Sadly, this wing of the palace bore the brunt of the damage in the 2015 earthquake. The museum was due to open in 2018, though it is unclear at this stage whether such unusual treasures as the king’s favourite stuffed bird and his Land Rover, with the scars of an attempted assassination, survived the disaster. Rising above the museum is the nine-storey Basantapur (Kathmandu) Tower (1770), which once stood like a beacon at the end of Freak St. Unfortunately, the upper tiers collapsed during the earthquake and the tower is closed to visitors while it is repaired with Chinese assistance. Lohan Chowk & Mul Chowk These two courtyards are currently under renovation but should eventually reopen. The first square you reach after the Tribhuvan Museum is Lohan Chowk. This courtyard was formerly ringed by four red-coloured towers constructed by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, representing the four ancient cities of the valley. The upper parts of the Basantapur (Kathmandu) Tower and Bhaktapur Tower (Lakshmi Bilas) collapsed in 2015, but the Kirtipur Tower and Patan (Lalitpur) Tower (known more evocatively as the Bilas Mandir, or House of Pleasure) are still standing. North of Lohan Chowk, Mul Chowk was completely dedicated to religious functions within the palace and is configured like a vihara, with a two-storey building surrounding the courtyard. Mul Chowk is dedicated to Taleju Bhawani, the royal goddess of the Mallas, and sacrifices are made to her in the centre of the courtyard during the Dasain festival. Non-Hindus are not allowed in the square, but you can get views from the doorway in the northeastern corner of Nasal Chowk. Mohankali Chowk & Sundari Chowk On the northern side of Nasal Chowk, a beautifully carved doorway leads to the Malla kings’ private quarters, which rank as the oldest parts of Hanuman Dhoka. This area was also damaged and reconstruction may take some years. Until then, both courtyards remain closed. The first courtyard is Mohankali (Mohan) Chowk, which dates from 1649. At one time, a Malla king had to be born here to be eligible to wear the crown. (The last Malla king, Jaya Prakash Malla, had great difficulties during his reign, even though he was the legitimate heir, because he was born elsewhere.) Impressive wood carvings line the wall alcoves, many of them depicting the exploits of young Krishna, and the central hiti (water reservoir) is the palace's finest. Pride of place in the intimate black-and-white Sundari Chowk behind is the ritual bathing pool with its Lichhavi-era carving of Krishna subduing the coils of the Kaliya serpent, hewn from a single block of stone in the 6th century. The Malla kings would ritually bathe each morning at the golden waterspout, whose waters allegedly flow from Budhanilkantha in the north of the valley.

  • 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. Entry is via an ornate narrow stone doorway to the east, or a wooden doorway to the west from one of the interlinked courtyards on the north side of Nakabhil. Entering from the east, note the gaudy lions and the 1886 signature of Krishnabir, the master stonemason who sculpted the fine doorway with its frieze of Buddhist deities. This second doorway leads to the main courtyard of the Golden Temple; shoes and leather articles must be removed to enter the lower courtyard. The main priest of the temple is a young boy under the age of 12, who serves for 30 days before handing the job over to another young boy. The temple itself is a magnificent example of courtyard temple architecture. Two elephant statues guard the doorway and the facade is covered by a host of gleaming Buddhist figures. Inside the main shrine is a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni (no photos allowed). To the left of the courtyard is a statue of Green Tara and in the right corner is a statue of the Bodhisattva Vajrasattva wearing an impressive silver-and-gold cape. Both are inside inner shrines. Facing the main temple is a smaller shrine containing a ‘self-arisen’ (swayambhu) chaitya. The four corners of the courtyard have statues of four Lokeshvaras (incarnations of Avalokiteshvara) and four monkeys, which hold out jackfruits as an offering. A stairway leads to an upper-floor chapel dedicated to a white eight-armed Avalokiteshvara, lined with Tibetan-style frescoes including a wheel of life. Finally, as you leave the temple at the eastern exit, look up to see an embossed mandala mounted on the ceiling. Outside of winter, look for the tortoises pottering around the compound – these are the temple guardians. It’s worth ducking south towards Durbar Sq to see the small, two-tiered Uma Maheshwar Temple and the handsome stone Gauri Shankar Temple, in the Indian shikhara style. Across the road, the Buddhist Maru Mandapa Mahavihar is set in a small courtyard.

  • 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. Construction of the gate began during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla (r 1696–1722), and the project was completed by his successor, Jaya Ranjit Malla, in 1754. The death of Jaya Ranjit Malla marked the end of the Malla dynasty and the end of the golden age of Newari architecture in Nepal. The gate opens to the inner courtyards of the Royal Palace, a once vast compound until the 1934 earthquake levelled all but a handful of its 99 courtyards. More walls toppled during the 2015 earthquake. To the right of the Golden Gate is the 55 Window Palace, which, you guessed it, has 55 intricate wooden windows stretching along its upper level. As you enter the palace complex, hidden behind grills in the darkness on either side of the inner gate is a pair of enormous war drums, which were used to rouse the city in the event of attack. From here you’ll pass the two statues of traditionally dressed guards standing either side of an ornate door, brought here from Rajasthan. Continuing on you’ll reach the main entrance to Mul Chowk, the oldest part of the palace and the site of Taleju Temple, built in 1553. Damaged in the quake but not destroyed, it is one of the most sacred temples in Bhaktapur. Only Hindus can enter, but you can peer in and admire its entrance, which is fronted by magnificent woodcarvings. Photography is prohibited. Continuing on around the corner from Mul Chowk is the Naga Pokhari, a 17th-century water tank used for the ritual immersion of the idol of Taleju. The pool is encircled by a writhing stone cobra and other serpents rise up in the middle and at the end of the tank, where water pours from a magnificent dhara (spout) in the form of a goat being eaten by a makara.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kathmandu

    Itum Bahal

    The long, rectangular courtyard of the Itum Bahal is the largest bahal (Buddhist monastery courtyard) in the old town and remains a haven of tranquillity in the chaotic surroundings. On the western side of the courtyard is the Kichandra Bahal, one of the oldest bahals in the city, dating from 1381. A chaitya in front of the entrance has been completely shattered by a Bodhi tree, which has grown right up through its centre. Inside the Kichandra Bahal (or Keshchandra Paravarta Mahar Bihar) is a central pagoda-like sanctuary, and to the south is a small chaitya decorated with graceful standing bodhisattvas. On the northern side of the courtyard are four brass plaques mounted on the upper-storey wall. The one on the extreme left shows a demon known as Guru Mapa taking a misbehaving child from a woman and stuffing it greedily into his mouth. Eventually the demon was bought off with the promise of an annual feast of buffalo meat, and the plaque to the right shows him sitting down and dipping into a pot of food. With such a clear message on juvenile misbehaviour it is fitting that the courtyard for many years housed a primary school – right under the Guru Mapa plaques! To this day, every year during the festival of Holi the inhabitants of Itum Bahal sacrifice a buffalo to Guru Mapa on the banks of the Vishnumati River, cook it in the afternoon in the courtyard and in the middle of the night carry it in huge cauldrons to a tree in the Tundikhel parade ground where the demon is said to live. In autumn and winter the main square is decorated in ornate swirling patterns of drying grain.

  • 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. The temple is reached by a stairway flanked by stone figures of the temple guardians. At the bottom are the legendary Rajput wrestlers Jayamel and Phattu, depicted kneeling with hefty maces. Subsequent levels are guarded by elephants with floral saddles, lions adorned with bells, beaked griffons with rams’ horns and finally two goddesses – Baghini and Singhini. Each figure is said to be 10 times as strong as the figure on the level below. The temple is dedicated to Siddhi Lakshmi, a bloodthirsty incarnation of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The idol of the goddess is so fearsome that only the temple’s priests are allowed to enter the inner sanctum, but less brutal incarnations of the goddess appear on the torana above the door, beneath a canopy of braided snakes, and also on the temple’s 180 carved roof struts. In a classic piece of religious crossover, the Buddhist eight lucky signs are carved beside the temple doorways. Look for the chariot runners piled up on the north side of the temple.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kathmandu

    Garden of Dreams

    The beautifully restored Swapna Bagaicha (Garden of Dreams) remains one of the most serene and beautiful enclaves in Kathmandu. It's two minutes' walk and a million miles from central Thamel. Field marshal Kaiser Shamser (1892–1964), whose palace the gardens complement, built the Garden of Dreams in the 1920s after a visit to several Edwardian estates in England, using funds won from his father (the prime minister) in an epic Rs 100,000 game of cowrie shells. The gardens and its pavilions suffered neglect to the point of collapse before they were lovingly brought back to life over a six-year period (finishing in 2007) by the same Austrian-financed team that created the Patan Museum. There are dozens of gorgeous details in the small garden, including the original gate, a marble inscription from Omar Khayam’s Rubaiyat, the new fountains and ponds, and a quirky ‘hidden garden’ to the south. Of the original 1.6 hectares and six pavilions (named after the six Nepali seasons), only half a hectare and three pavilions remain. To truly savour the serenity, come armed with a book or a picnic to distract you from the amorous Nepali couples and relax on one of the supplied lawn mats. Wi-fi is available (Rs 50 per hour). Dwarika’s hotel operates the serene Kaiser Cafe here and there are occasional cultural events and exhibitions.

  • 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. In the centre of the square is the small, gilded, central Bidyapith Temple, beside a wooden post used to secure animals for sacrifices. The central deity is Yantaju, a form of Durga, and a personal deity to the Malla kings. On the south side of the square is the Taleju Bhawani Temple, flanked by statues of the river goddesses Ganga, on a tortoise, and Jamuna, on a makara. The upper galleries now form part of the museum's architectural displays, with fine examples of carved wooden struts. At the northeastern corner of the square is the tall Degutalle Temple, topped by an octagonal triple-roofed tower. The larger, triple-roofed Taleju Temple is directly north, looking out over Durbar Sq, and dedicated to Taleju, another protective deity of the Malla kings.

  • 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. The collection is displayed in a series of brick and timber rooms, linked by steep and narrow stairways. There are informative labels on each of the hundreds of statues, carvings and votive objects, allowing you to put a name to many of the deities depicted at temples around the valley. There are also some interesting displays on the techniques used to create these wonderful objects, including the art of repoussé and the ‘lost-wax’ method of casting. The top floor houses some fascinating photos of Patan at the end of the 19th century. The museum has a shop selling reproductions of some of the works displayed inside. For a sneak preview of the museum’s highlights and the story of its renovation, go to www.asianart.com/patan-museum. Photography is allowed.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kathmandu

    Asan Tole

    From dawn until dusk the six-spoked junction of Asan Tole is jammed with vegetable and spice vendors selling everything from yak tails to dried fish. It’s the busiest square in the city and a fascinating place to linger, if you can stand the crowds. Cat Stevens allegedly wrote his hippie-era song 'Kathmandu' in a smoky teahouse in Asan Tole. 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 silver purana, a bowl full of grain. At most times, but especially on 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 red-faced Ganesh shrine is coated in bathroom tiles. The historic Yita Chapal (Southern Pavilion), which was once used for festival dances, was damaged in the 2015 earthquake but still stands, supported by buttresses. On the western side of the square are spice shops. In the centre of the square, between two potted trees, is a small Narayan shrine (Narayan is a form of Vishnu).

  • 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. The temple consists of three tiers, fronted by columns and supporting a northern Indian–style shikhara spire. The distinctive temple is often depicted on the ornate brass butter lamps hung in Nepali homes. Non-Hindus cannot enter to view the statue of Krishna, the goatherd, but you’ll often hear temple musicians playing upstairs. Vishnu’s mount, the man-bird Garuda, kneels with folded arms on top of a column facing the temple. The delicate stone carvings along the beam on the 1st floor recount events from the Mahabharata, while the hard-to-see beam on the 2nd floor features scenes from the Ramayana. A major festival, Krishna Jayanta, also known as Krishnasthami, is held here in the Nepali month of Bhadra (August to September) for Krishna’s birthday.

  • 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. On the way out look at the restored Bhandarkhal water tank, once the main water supply for the palace, featuring a charming meditation pavilion. Back in Durbar Sq, the traditional gateway to Sundari Chowk features three magnificent statues of Hanuman (barely recognisable beneath layers of orange paint), Ganesh and Vishnu as Narsingha, the man-lion, tearing out the entrails of a demon.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Eastern Terai

    Janaki Mandir

    At the heart of Janakpur lies the marble Janaki Mandir, one of the grander pieces of architecture in Nepal, and the city's must-see sight. Built in extravagant baroque Mughal style, the temple is dedicated to Sita, the wife of Rama and heroine of the Ramayana. It’s believed to stand on the spot where King Janak found the infant Sita lying in the furrow of a ploughed field. A steady stream of pilgrims file in through the gatehouse to worship the Sita statue in the inner sanctum. The temple is particularly popular with women, who wear their best and most colourful saris for the occasion. Early evening is the most atmospheric time to visit, as the temple is draped with colourful lights and pilgrims arrive en masse. You never know what you might see here! The temple only dates from 1910, but with its white marble arches, domes, turrets and screens, it feels much older. At the back of the complex is a small museum (admission Rs 15) with some amusingly retro moving statues telling the story of Rama and Sita.

  • Top ChoiceSights in The Terai & Mahabharat Range

    Shashwat Dham

    Burned out on ancient sites? Here's a contemporary take on the temple compound, and it's very impressive. The centrepiece is a Shiva temple that resembles an enormous sandcastle, with every square centimetre intricately carved. In the basement is a religious museum with an interesting visual summary of the top Hindu sites in Nepal, signed in English. A gift shop and a veggie restaurant round out this 5-hectare site. Located on the Mahendra Hwy 23km west of Narayangarh, and unmissable.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kathmandu

    Indra Chowk

    The busy street of Makhan Tole spills into Indra Chowk, the courtyard named after the ancient Vedic deity, Indra. Locals crowd around the square’s newspaper sellers, scanning the day’s news. Indra Chowk is traditionally a centre for the sale of blankets and cloth, and merchants cover the platforms of the Mahadev Temple to the north. The next-door black stone Shiva Temple to the northeast is a smaller and simplified version of Patan’s Krishna Temple. On the west side of the square is the facade of the Akash Bhairab Temple, or Bhairab of the Sky Temple. From the balcony four metal lions rear out over the street. The temple’s entrance is on the right-hand side of the building, guarded by two more brass lions, but non-Hindus cannot enter. The silver image inside is visible through the open windows from out in the street, and during important festivals the image is displayed in the square. In a small niche just to the left of the Akash Bhairab Temple is a very small but much-visited brass Ganesh shrine. Before you leave the chowk, look for the market hidden in the alleyways to the east, crowded with stalls selling the lurid beads and bangles that are so popular with married Nepali women.