Around Kathmandu Valley
Balaju Water Garden



Pharping and Dakshinkali
Changu Narayan

Around Kathmandu Valley

Balaju Water Garden-Situated five kilometres north-west of Kathmandu, Balaju Water Garden is an ideal place for rest and relaxation. The park features a long line of twenty-two water spouts, each of which were ornately carved with crocodile heads during the mid-eighteenth century. The garden also includes many other ponds, some of them containing large and small varieties of fish. Adjoining the garden is an olympic-sized swimming pool open to the public; Balaju Industrial Estate is located near by.

Swayambhu-Swayambhu is said to be two thousand years old, making it one of the world's oldest and most glorious Buddhist Chaityas. The Chaitya (Stupa) which forms the main structure, is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painted on the four-sided base of the spire are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. The temple is situated three kilometres west of Kathmandu city, and stands on the Valley. This hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and pagoda temples.

-This colossal stupa, one of the biggest in the world, is situated eight kilometres east of the capital. Like Swayarnbhu, the stupa is inset on four sides with the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha gazing in each direction. Built on a huge octagonal base, the stupa is also inset with prayer wheels. It is common to see dozens of worshippers constantly perambulating the stupa while taking care to spin each of the sacred prayer wheels. Around the stupa are various smaller shrines and the houses of important Lamas (Buddhist priests). The stupa takes an added importance at all the Buddhist festivals when Buddhists come from all over the country to take part in the sacred rituals.

This lovely Royal Game Sanctuary, also known as Gokarna Safari Park, lies about ten kilometres north- west of Kathmandu. It is situated on the bank of the river Bagmati. Many wild animals such as the spotted deer, are found in the sanctuary and can be viewed from the elephant back. One can enter the game sanctuary on paying an entrance fee at the gate or by making arrangements with a travel agency. On the northern side of Gokarna, on the way to Sundarijal, there is a pagoda-style temple of Gokarneshwar Mahadeva. To its right, situated on a hillock, there is a small village known as Gokarnagaon. Accommodation is also available in Gokarna Safari Park.

Chabahil-On the road to Boudhanath is the lovely stupa of Chabahil that could be even older than Boudhanath itself. According to the tradition, it was built in the 3rd century B.C. by Charurnati, the daughter of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, after she married and settled in the Valley. There is also some ancient statuary about the stupa.

Sundarijal-Situated ten kilometres north-east of Kathmandu, Sundarijal is famous for its scenic beauty. There are magnificent waterfalls, cataracts and rock formations, making it an ideal place for a picnic. One has to walk a short distance after the motorable road ends.

Kirtipur-Kirtipur is a small town located eight kilometres south- west of Kathmandu on the top of a hill or plateau- shaped ridge. Tribhuvan University sits at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to offer including ancient shrines, temples, old houses, villagers typically dressed in old traditional costumes and people 1 weaving on hand looms.

Sankhu-Sankhu, located twelve kilometres east of Kathmandu, is a good example of a small Newari town, with many fine old buildings and temples. Beyond the village, up a long flight of stone steps, is Bajra Jogini, another historic temple with beautiful views of the Valley.

Chovar is famous for its gorge, said to have been cut by the god Manjushree to drain the water out from the Kathmandu Valley which was at that time a lake. On the hilltop, there is small pagoda dedicated to Adinath. From this point one can see a superb view of snow clad mountain peaks. Chovar is located eight kilometres south-west of Kathmandu.

Pharping and Dakshinkali-Pharping has a shrine of Shesh Narayan which is richly endowed with history and art. The picturesque shrine stands on a hillock below which there are many fish ponds. The famous temple of Dakshinkaii is situated about two kilometres from Pharping. Every Tuesday and Saturday, pilgrims congregate at the temple to sacrifice the animals and worship the goddess Kali.

Budhanilkantha-Eight kilometres north of Kathmandu is a remarkable, colossal statue of the god Vishnu reclining on a bed of snakes. The 5th century statue lies in the middle of a small pond. Budhanilkantha is a place of pilgrimage for all Hindus and is the scene of great activity at such festivals as Haribodhini Ekadasi and Kartik Poornima. But the reigning King of Nepal may not visit the spot.

Godavari-This scenic village is situated ten kilometres south-east of Patan city. The road from Patan city runs to Godavari passing through the towns of Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Badegaon. One of Nepal's holy places, it is also a good picnic spot set amidst dense forest. The Royal Botanical Garden, a fish hatchery and a marble quarry are also located here.

The ancient temple of Bajrabarahi is situated in a small woodland park located about ten kilometres south of Patan, near the village of Chapagaon. A visit to Tikabhairab and Lele from here is well worthwhile.

Phulchoki is a 2,791 m. hill, and a good hiking spot as it offers a spectacular view of the whole Kathmandu Valley. Rhododendrons of different colours are found here including pure white and dark red varieties. A jeepable road leads to the top of the hill, where there is a Buddhist shrine.

Suryavinayak is the shrine of Ganesh, the elephant- headed god. The shrine has been positioned in such a way as to catch the first rays of the morning sun. Excellent views of Bhaktapur with snow peaks in the background can be seen from here. Being located in a thick forest, it is also a good picnic spot flanked by
many attractive landscapes.

Changu Narayan-
Chanqu Narayan is situated at the end of a long ridge which runs well into the Valley. It is said to have been built by King Hari Dutta Varma in 323 A.D., the King also installed the goddess of Chinnamasta. The temple is richly decorated with suciptures and carvings and is said to be the oldest pagoda-style temple in the Valley. It is situated about 125 metres above the Valley floor and affords a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside.

-This is the holiest of all the Shiva shrines in Nepal and is the abode of lord Pashupatinath, the guardian God of Nepal. The temple of Pashupatinath is a large double-roofed pagoda of gold-gilt and brass; the gateway are plated with silver. It stands on the western bank of the Bagrnati, about five kilometres north-east of Kathmandu and contains the sacred lingam of Pashupatinath. The whole place is a mosaic of other temples and shrines dominated by the big gilted figure of Nandi, the mount of Shiva; this is seated on a stone pedestal opposite the main gate, flanked by a golden trident. There is a crematorium outside the temple by the side of the wide but shallow river. On the occasion of the annual festival of Shivaratri (February/March), the temple is thronged by thousands of devotees, including a large number of pilgrims from India. The temple is also the site of a number of other different festivals and rituals taking place throughout the year.

Guheshwari-About a quarter kilometre beyond Pashupatinath temple, on the left bank of the river Bagmati, the temple of goddess Sati, Lord Shiva's consort, stands in the middle of a paved courtyard surrounded by rows of rest houses. This temple has the usual arched construction of tubular metal work covering the main building. Towards the top, it transforms itself into four gilded snakes which support the crowning piece of the roof. The whole structure of the temple is designed after the tantric yantra or geometric triangle, signifying the female principle of procreation.