Kathmandu, the capital and largest city in Nepal, is like no other city in the world. The decaying buildings in the heart of the city are a stark contrast to the lively atmosphere that permeates the streets. The smell of incense wafts from stores while street sellers push their goods, and people go about their daily lives, all against a backdrop of historic temples and carved statues. For several hundred years, Kathmandu was one of three rival royal cities, along with Bhaktapur and Patan. Situated in close proximity to each other, today these three almost run together. The highlight of Kathmandu has long been Durbar Square, the largest of the palace squares in the three royal cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Temples and monuments of varying shapes, sizes, styles, and faiths can be found here. Kathmandu’s Durbar Square was severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake, with many buildings destroyed beyond repair, but it still remains a special place to visit.
Bhaktapur, the third of the “Royal Cities,” lies on the old trade route to Tibet, just outside of Kathmandu. For Bhaktapur, the trade route was both an arterial link and major source of wealth. Its relative remoteness at the time allowed the city to develop independently and in ways which distinguish it from the other two cities. In contrast to Patan and Kathmandu, the population of Bhaktapur is primarily Hindu. The best place from which to begin a tour of the city is Durbar Square, where in addition to the royal palace, several temples are also situated. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the buildings in Durbar Square in Bhaktapur were damaged in the 2015 earthquake, the main temples are close to being repaired fully, but progress on much of the surrounding area has not proceeded as swiftly.
Set at the base of the foothills and surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world – Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Annapurna I – Pokhara is one of Nepal’s most scenic cities. For trekkers, Pokhara is the gateway to the Himalayas and the starting point for treks to Jomsom and the Annapurna region. It’s also a wonderful spot to relax for a bit, either before or after a hiking trip.
By population, it is the second largest city in Nepal after Kathmandu but still does not feel like a big city. As you travel from Kathmandu, 200 kilometers to the east, you’ll notice the much cleaner air and pleasant climate almost immediately. Lake Phewa, with its cluster of lakeside hotels, restaurants, and shops, is ideal for those looking for a little relaxation.
Your Nepal sightseeing would be incomplete without visiting Lumbini which is considered one of the most sacred places of the country as it is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It is one of the most visited places in Nepal especially by the people who follow Buddhism religion. Meditation can be greatly enjoyed amidst the peaceful and tranquil surroundings of Lumbini. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lumbini has myriad attractions that have immense importance in Buddhism and Hinduism religion. What makes it even more intriguing is the natural beauty of the place and the Himalayas in the backdrop. Maya Devi Temple is one of the most important attractions in Lumbini which is nestled in a large park housing the main birthplace of Lord Buddha along with a plethora of monasteries, lakes and other sacred spots.
Dating back to the 8th century, Bhaktapur houses stunning pieces of art and architecture that tell about the unique culture and traditions of the country. One of the main tourist attractions in Nepal is the Bhaktapur Durbar Square which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main Royal Palace inside the square is the center of attraction along with several other temples which are built within the square itself. It is one of the best cities to visit in Nepal to admire the historical and cultural sites located here. However, many of these sites were destroyed in an earthquake that hit the country but there has been tremendous development and many of the sites have been restored. It is also a one-stop destination for an amazing shopping experience where you can get your hands on authentic Nepalese souvenirs, pottery, handicrafts and other architectural pieces.
One of the must-see places in Nepal is definitely Biratnagar which is located in close vicinity to the Indian border and houses the first large-scale jute industry of the country. There is also a famous Kali Mata Mandir which has huge importance in Hinduism religion. This second largest city in the country also features some exotic wildlife at places like Koshi Tappu. If you are a foodie, then you would love to explore this city as it is very much popular for its street food. The city has various places where one can relax and get connected with nature. Some of the best ones to explore are Dhankuta, Hile, Koshi River, Baraha Chhetra, Biratnagar Jute Mills and Ilam.