UNESCO Heritage sites
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal
UNESCO has declared 10 World Heritage Sites, 7 inside Kathmandu Valley & 3 outside; Lumbini including Kathmandu Valley are Cultual Heritage & Chitwan National Park & Sagarmatha National Park as Natural Heritage Sites. These seven World Heritage Sites are all amazing man-made wonders still standing majestically – some of them as old as 2500 years.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Lies in the heart of the capital and is popularly known as the Hanuman Dhoka Palace – the Gateway of Hanuman – an ancient seat of Nepalese Royalty. The Palace consists of the huge Royal square imposing a tremendous variety of the temples dedicated to different Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Most of the buildings were constructed from the 15 th – 18 th centuries. The Palace is named after the Hindu Monkey God, Hanuman , and is painted completely red right next to the main entrance (the Golden Gate) of the Palace. He is regarded as the protector of the entire Durbar Square.
Patan Durbar Square
Situated on a little plateau across the river Bagmati river, Patan is only 7.8km south-east of Kathmandu city. This city is considered one of the oldest among the three cities of Kathmandu Valley.
The city was founded in 3rd century by King Veera Dev and has the distinction of being the home of the finest Newari craft. The finest Hindu and Buddhist monuments are scattered around but the most important monuments are in the square or close by.
Other features like the Golden window, the royal bath of Sundaru Chowk, the Taleju Temple, and Keshab Narayan Chowk are worth visiting. The four stupas, located in the four cardinal directions, were errected by Indian Emperor Ashoka the Great.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
This is a unique city located east of Kathmandu at 1,400m above sea level. With an area of 5 sq. kms. this unique city is divided into 24 traditional localities. It was founded by King Ananda Dev in 889 A.D.
Bhaktapur in supposed to have been built in the shape of a conch shell, a scared symbol of Lord Vishnu. The world Bhaktapur means The City of Devotees.
Bhaktapur; at one time an independent city, was ruled by the Malla Kings. They were very religious and gave importance to their artistic heritage which is evident throughout the city. Some of the significant momuments here are:
– The Lion Gate: Built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 17 th century A.D.
– Golden Gate: The main entrance to the famous 55 Window Palace and Royal Taleju. Constructed in 1754 A.D.
– The statue of King Bhupatindra Malla.
– 55 Window Palace: This architectural structure dominates the entire Bhadgaon Durbar Square. It is worth admiring.
– Vatsala Temple.
– Nyatapole Temple.
– Bhairav Nath Temple.
A Buddhist stupa on a western hills of Kathmandu. The 2,500 year old monument is a holy site replete with symbols. The mound represents the four elements of earth, fire, wind and water. The 13 gilded rings of the spire symbolize the 13 steps of the ladder leading to Nirvana, the final salvation. The shrine is bedecked in colorful prayer flags. Pilgrims and tourists pass to Swayambhumath’s holy premises through a path of 365 steps.
Close to the stupa is the Dewa Dharma monastery, noted for bronaze icon of the Buddha and traditional Tibetan paintings.
Below are some important dates when pilgrims visit this holy site to take part in religious activities.
Buddha Purnima, the birth of Lord Buddha – full moon day of Baisakh (April-May)
Gunla, the holy Buddhist month, according to Newari calender (August – September)
Kojagrath Purnima (September – October)
Samyak Day of the Magh (January – February) every 12 years!
Boudha Nath Stupa
One of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monument ever built in the Himalayan Kingdom it is 36m high. The stupa is unique with its three level, mandala style, platforms. The structural features of the stupa is somewhat similar to the Swayambhunath stupa. It was built around the 5 th century A.D.
What Mecca is to the Muslims, this Boudhanath Stupa is for Tibetan Buddhists. Every year thousands of pilgrims flock here from all over the Himalayan region.
During the Buddhist festivals, listed with Swayambhunath above, pilgrims gather to celebrate with great reverance to all Buddhist deities.
Pashupati Nath Temple
Pashupati Nath is considered one of the holiest shrines of all the Hindu temples. It is 6km. east of downtown Kathmandu. The temple has remained the presiding deity of ruling Nepalese Royalty.
The two tier magnificient golden temple, with four triple silver doorways, is a unique example of the Nepalese temple architecture. It is one of the largest Hindu temple complexes in South-Asia with hundreds of Shiva Lingam shrines and icons Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The temple is spread out over a large area.
The main entrance, for Hindu people only, is on the western side. Tourists may peak inside, or go on the other side of the river to have a glimpse of the temple complex from above. During the festival of Shivaratri (February – March) 10,000’s of devotees and pligrims (many from India) visit this temple and make ceremonial fires.
Changu Narayan Temple
Situated on a small hillock overlooking the Kathmandu Valley, this temple is 12km. east of Kathmandu. The temple is decorated with magnificent art works in metal and wood. This famous temple was built in the 3 rd century A.D. An inscription opposite the temple tells about a historic event which is the first epigraphic evidence of Nepali history. Some of the important sculptures here are:
– Viswo Roop – 8 th Century A.D.
– Vishnu Vikranta – 8 th Century A.D.
– Vishnu mounted in his vehicle Garuda – the mythical manbird.
– Nara Singh Vishnu in his half human and half lion form.
Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. at the famous garden of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Among the pilgrims was the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who erected one of his commemorative pillars there. The site is now being developed as a Buddhist pilgrimage centre, where the archaeological remains associated with the birth of the Lord Buddha form a central feature.
Chitwan National Park
At the foot of the Himalayas, Chitwan is one of the few undisturbed areas of the Terai region which formerly extended over the foothills of India and Nepal, with its very rich flora and fauna. One of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros lives in the park, which is also among the last refuges for the Bengal tiger. “Chitwan National Park” was added to Unesco’s World Heritage List in 1984. Chitwan is a rich natural area in the Terai, the subtropical southern part of Nepal. The park is inhabited by the rare Asiatic rhinoceros and Bengal Tiger. Besides these, there are many elephants, birds and butterflies.
Sagarmatha National Park
Area: 1148 sq. km.
Sagarmatha National Park is located to the north-east of Kathmandu in the Kumbu region of Nepal. The park includes the highest peak in the world, Mt. Sagarmatha (Everest), and several other well-known peaks such as Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyu, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kwangde, Kangtaiga and Gyachung Kang. The park was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
The mountains of Sagarmatha National Park are geologically young and broken up by deep gorges and glacial valleys. Vegetation includes pine and hemlock forests at lower altitudes, fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron woods, scrub and alpine plant communities, and bare rock and snow. The famed bloom of rhododendrons occurs during spring (April and May) although other flora is most colorful during the monsoon season (June to August).
Wild animals most likely to seen in the park are the Himalayan tahr, goral, serow and musk deer. The snow leopard and Himalayan black bear are present but rarely sighted. Other mammals rarely seen are the weasel, maren, Himalayan mouse hare (pika), jackal and langur monkey.
The park is populated by approximately 3,000 of the famed Sherpa people whose lives are interwoven with the teachings of Buddhism. The main settlements are Namche Bazar, Khumjung, Khunde, Thame, Thyangboche, Pangboche and Phortse. The economy of the Khumbu Sherpa community has traditionally been heavily based on trade and livestock herding. But with the arrival of international mountaineering expeditions since 1950 and the influx of foreign trekkers, today the Sherpa economy is becoming increasingly dependent of tourism.
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