Kathmandu ( Nepali: काठमाडौं) or KTM is the capital city of Nepal. Kathmandu Valley includes Kathmandu metropolitan city along with Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Thimi and Kirtipur. It was included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2006.
Measuring 50.7 km2, Kathmandu is a geographically smaller city compared to many other major cities in Nepal and its history dates back only 2,000 years. Over time, this small city attracted the brightest minds in the entire country and helped build socioeconomically, making it the most accessible place to live, work and travel throughout the country. Today, almost 2.5 million people reside in Kathmandu (2012 Census).
If you are going to visit ancient settlements near Kathmandu, you must find numerous narrow streets, mud houses joined together as “make love;” inhabitants dressed in their typical costumes, with rich and vibrant architectures dominating the premises.
The legend, a famous meditation deity, Manjushree, brought the city to life for what is habitable. After the first ascent of Everest in 1953, Kathmandu became a popular centre among climbing enthusiasts and representatives of nations who wish to discover their flag on top of Everest. Later, Cat Stevens’ famous song “Kathmandu” helped promote the ancient city among many young Westerners. The arrival of hippies in the 60s’ technically opened the doors to global tourism’s potential.
Kathmandu – The Funky City
Insight to understand the recent history of Kathmandu.
Freed from the Frog anarchic regime and the aristocracy, the inhabitants of a greater region of Kathmandu tasted democracy, for the first time, with a monarch still as head of state. Therefore, the modernization of the city began, so did the lifestyle.
The 1960s mark the moment when Kathmandu became a global city. The arrival of the Hippies through the Bhakti movement came for the first time in Kathmandu in the 60s‘ through the Silk Road. His unconventional lifestyle brought a wave of westernization and liberalization between places. Kathmanduties began building pop joints, selling drugs, wearing western outfits, where the brand’s clothes and cars became an idea of the group. The decision of the Government on the prohibition of movement of the hippies’ and stop in the free trade of drugs diminish its existence.
A famous filmmaker and actor, Dev Anand, the movie ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’ based on Hippies Trail is shot entirely inside the Kathmandu Valley. Old art, crafts and living culture can be seen in the movie.
The wave of western tourism did not end there. The 80s’ began with an explosion when travel agencies and tour operators began selling trekking and excursions in the unexplored regions of the country to the world. Nepal made a final destination of adventure tourism. Everest trade expeditions and other trekking peaks flourished. The concept of trekking in the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas took over like a storm.
Tourists who yearn for adventure and vacations in the Himalayas began to flood the city.
The resurgence of national media and the establishment of FM and cable TV radios helped residents absorb the world’s lifestyle and music. Listening to Michael Jackson, Madonna, rock music and boy bands was common among teenagers in the 1990s. International films began to flood local theatres. People realized the power of the Western media and globalization.
KTM is a surreal place, where ancient culture coexists with the western lifestyle. The next decade witnessed the opening of international brand franchises in Kathmandu; Pizza Hut, KFC and Baskin Robbins, etc. Today, fancy diners and star hotels illuminate this city above.
Headquarters of the only international airport in Nepal “Tribhuvan International Airport,” visitors make their first and last stop in the city.
Culture and Art
Historically, Kathmandu protected inhabitants different religions and identity, which is mainly due to its policy of openness towards the practice of religion and free life.
In its history spanning 2 millennia, many monarchs of Hindu and Buddhist clans established their dominance in the city. The home of the native tribe of Newars, the Hindu and Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Indians settled and helped build the city in its final phase. Many of the city’s oldest architectural relics can be inspired by the medieval lifestyle of the town, rich and vibrant with contrasting textures on ceilings, paintings and walls, which was common in almost every home. Many of the medieval Buddhist monasteries still populate the city.
Houses built by mud and brick, with extensive use of woodwork, can still be seen overlooking the old settlements and bazaar. Many of their rituals and religious festivals still follow medieval practices, in which music, animal sacrifices and dancing are common. Hindu festivals are the main tourist attractions of Nepal.
Sites of Interest
Thamel may be the most recognized place in Kathmandu for 4 decades. ‘Hub (The tourists of the popular tourists’ Mecca or Den Hippies’), Thamel is where most tourists spend their time. Posh dinners, bars with live band performances and curiosity shops are located within this place. During the ’70s, Thamel was known for hippies “meeting place, a place where you could freely buy psychedelic drugs and spend time with like-minded friends with a minor nuisance. Most of the diners and bars in Thamel were established at the time. Today, the area is populated with many bars and restaurants, curious shops, shops and trek agencies.
Swoyambhu (Monkey Temple)
Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple is a Buddhist stupa located on top of a hill. It is believed that they have emerged from the Earth itself, devotees, Hindus and Buddhists, make the pilgrimage to the site. One can enjoy the 360 ° panoramic view of the city, sunrise/sunset and so on from the top.
Historic Royal Palaces
Home to several dynasties and monarchs, Kathmandu valleys are extremely full of medieval palaces. 4 of the most popular palaces found in Kathmandu are; Hanumandhoka palace, Patan Malla palace or Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Narayanhiti palace. Most of these palaces date back to 100 years. Seeing the reflection of local art in buildings is evident. Most of these complexes are easily recognized by the kneading of used red bricks, large compounds, wooden windows and doors, large exteriors and majestic roofs.
Hotels and Accommodation
Stars Hotels – many of the best establishments in the hotel industry are located inside Kathmandu. Some of the hotels worth mentioning are;
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Dwarika Hotel, Annapurna Hotel, Yak and Yeti Hotel, Radisson Hotel, Soaltee Crowne Plaza and Shangri-La Hotel
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Shankar Hotel, Grand Hotel, Hotel Mulberry, Fairfield by Marriott, Royal Singi Hotel, Himalaya Hotel and Summit Residence
☆ ☆ ☆ – Tibet guest house, my friend’s house hotel, Oasis Kathmandu Hotel, Summit Hotel, Shambaling Hotel and Manang Hotel
Non-star Hotels -There are thousands of hotels and inns that are located around Kathmandu. Rates may vary but are reasonable. The standard of accommodation and food is reliable. Tourists considering staying in the cheapest residences can find many options, especially in and around Thamel.