Kathmandu Valley: Cultural capital of Himalayas
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Sky soaring Pagodas, Magnificent palaces made up of polished oil bricks and intricately carved wood, Bazars with vibes of Bygone ages where there is 1000 years old statue in every crossroad, welcome to Nepal Mandala popularly known as "Kathmandu Valley" is Nepal in the real sense. Even after 2015 Earthquake, the valley remains an open-air architectural museum of magnificent medieval temples, pagodas, pavilions and shrines.
The Legend of Valley
The valley was once a large lake. The Legend starts when Lord Manjushree according to Buddhist tradition or lord Vishnu according to Hindus created the present-day Kathmandu valley by cutting the southern hills which drained the waters which provided a vast fertile valley where people can settle. Several tribes and people settled from north and south bringing different traditions like Tibetan Buddhism and Tantric Hinduism leading to the fusion of their religion and establishing the largest trade and cultural centre between India and Tibet.
Historically, the valley has been the homeland of Newar population a mix of Indian and Tibetan peoples. They were great traders and craftsmen responsible for much of Nepal's iconography, architecture and much of Nepali culture. The first formal records came from AD 400-750, from the great age of Licchavis. But the golden age of Nepal under the mighty Malla's during the 14th- 17 th century. The third ruler of Malla dynasty "Jayasthithi Malla" United the valley and codified the rules of conduct during the 1350s. His grandson Yakshmalla divided his kingdom among three sons leading to the establishment of three rival city-states of Kantipur(Kathmandu), Lalitpur(Patan)and Bhaktapur. The rivalry between these 3 kingdoms not only expressed through warfare but Also through the patronage of architecture and culture. The outstanding examples of craftsmanship seen in temples and buildings of durbar square are a testament to fortune spend by each king to outshine others. During the 17th century, the golden age of Nepal reached under its peak, the trade flourished, Several new cultures and traditions interacted, architecture reached to its new heights, the political power was consolidated and Nepal becomes dominant in the Himalayan region.
Nothing is for forever, it is proved by the downfall of mighty Mallas. The force behind their end was the "Gurkhas" or The Shah Dynasty under whom Nepal reached its greatest territorial limits. In their last decade's shah became puppets under the hand of their Ministers "Ranas". This was a period of huge turmoil and Mishaps. Pro-Democracy Movements, Civil wars and assassination of the royal family, Kathmandu valley witnessed it all from the rise of first chiefdoms to the Golden age of Mallas and dramatic transition to a democratic republic and a traumatic Earthquake. The legend of Kathmandu is written by Blood and valour of Hundreds of thousands of Nepali people who overcame every challenge and made Kathmandu one of the greatest cities on the planet.
Golden Triangle of Nepal: Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktpur
Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktpur are the largest tourist destinations in the whole of Nepal. This is because of their rich heritage and culture and good infrastructure. You can also call them Golden Triangle of Nepal just like the famous Golden Triangle of India(Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) which are some of India's greatest cities known for their heritage and culture, these cities were once mighty city-states which also were the three most powerful and prosperous centres of Malla Kingdom. Three cities also developed as the greatest centres of art and culture in the whole of Nepal. Several Palaces, Pavilions, courtyards, temples and many more magnificent buildings were built in traditional Pagoda architecture using oiled bricks and intricately carved wooden beams, panels and windows. Apart from architecture, these cities are also known Its rich tradition of Handicrafts-Patan for Metal sculptures and carpets, Kathmandu for Thangkas and Bhaktpur for Wood carvings and pottery. These cities are also known for their rich intangible heritage like Jatra(car festivals), dance forms like mask dance and traditional music played by several folk musicians. Have visited magnificent palaces and temples, enjoyed listening to traditional music and bought souvenirs for your family and friends and feeling hungry? Then try some delicious momos or an authentic Nepali thali at any of heritage or traditional Newari restaurants. To experience the best of Nepal a visit to these cities is a must.
1.Kathmandu: Capital for Centuries
Kathmandu the capital is full of chaos and colours, ongoing strikes and protests and restoration of several ancient buildings and monuments are going together in 13th most visited city of Asia. The city has been capital of Nepal for centuries because of which it has been home to every royal dynasty till the end of monarchy in 2007, which left their mark on several grand and beautiful palaces. Also, Kathmandu is also home to 4 UNESCO world heritage sites out of Group of 7 monuments which are considered as World heritage site combined.and some of the best museums in the whole of Nepal. Soak up the amazing architectural monuments of Old Kathmandu.an architectural tradition that even rivals the great cities of Europe or fill your bag with amazing handicrafts and souvenirs at the country's best shopping district "Thamel".
The Stupa Spree: Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Katheshimbhu and Chabihar
Largest in Asia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site this is one of the most Iconic Buddhist Stupas in the whole of South Asia, Boudhanath is built in 2-3rd century BCE. The Whitewashed hemispherical dome with occasional maroon ish yellow waves, Eyes of Lord Buddha in the bottom of the golden spire and Hundreds of Colourful Tibetan Flag which are tied to pinnacle fluttering in air wind adds the magical aura to the environment. The Stupa is surrounded by A Beautiful Tibetan Monastery,1008 Prayer wheels, Several Temples and Licchavi Era statutes plus several Souvenir shops and Cafes offering you Best Coffee hangout experience in the Valley.
Situated over a hillock a journey up to the Buddhist Temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath stupa is one of the most magical experiences of Kathmandu. Mobbed by hundreds of monkeys and soaring above the city on a lofty hilltop, the monkey temple is a fascinating, chaotic jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography. Coming to Swayambhunath is a mystical experience, with ancient carvings jammed in every inch where you revolve your eyes. The iconic Whitewashed stupa with all-seeing eyes of Buddha in the spire is one of the most sacred religious site for a Buddhist in Nepal. The Stupa base is surrounded by 108 metal Prayer wheels with Mani Mantras engraved on them which is revolved by the devotees. The Platform around Stupa has a Licchavi era sculpture garden which has a dense collection of ancient statues, chaitya, inscriptions and other motifs.
Katheshimbhu stupa is a lovely stupa and a small copy of famous Swayambhunath stupa dating back to 1650s. Just like Swayambhunath it has a small two-story pagoda Hariti temple and is surrounded by hundreds of Licchavis era sculptures. The shops surrounding the stupa sells best colourful Tibetan flags made up of cotton with Mani mantra of"Om Mani Padma Hun"printedon it.
On way to Bodhnath, the suburb of Chabahil has many historic shrines and temples. But the centre of attraction in this area is "Chabahil Stupa" which is the fourth largest Stupa of the Valley after Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Katheshimbhu stupa. According to legend, this Stupa is built by the daughter of Indian Emperor Ashoka. It is a small copy of Boudhanath Stupa with similar design and sculptures.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
This is where the kings of Nepal were coronated and legitimized their rule for centuries. It is a complex of magnificent Palaces, Courtyards, beautiful temples and shrines, most of them are built-in Newari pagoda style embellished with intricately carved exteriors, built between the 12th and 18th centuries. Originally founded by Licchavis as early as 5th century AD but, much of its present shape is credited to King Pratap Malla in 17 th century who Built Magnificent Hanuman Dhoka palace and expanded the Durbar sq considerably. The largest among the three, Kathmandu Durbar Square also have one of the tallest and largest temples of the valley "Talaju Bhawani Temple " soaring over a height of 34.3 meters. It is dedicated to the royal goddess and is opened only once in a year during the Daishan festival also known as Durga puja, Dushera, Navratri in other parts of South Asia. The Square is also renowned for several other interesting temples like Jaganath Temple, Kumari Bahal, Ashok Vinayaka temple,Mahandreshwara Temple, A large open statue of Kal-Bhairav(Black bhirav ), a large metal bust of Shwet Bhairav(White Bhairav) and many more intricately carved Licchavi era statues.
Old Kathmandu: The Heritage walk
Kathmandu 'a backstreet is filled with a dense collection of Beautiful temples, shrines, Stupas and courtyards especially between the Kathmandu Durbar Square in the south and Thamel shopping district in the north.
The old town is bursting with traditional markets, toles(streets),bahils(residential courtyards) and Buddhist Bahals. The best way to feel the area is by walking. You can start walking from South Thamel to the northern edge of Kathmandu Durbar Square or vice versa. Start your walk with Tahiti Stupa which is simple but elegant 15th-century stupa, then head south after a few minutes of walk you will find impressive Katheshimbhu stupa with radiating Tibetan Flags.
Continuing the down street you will reach Asan Tole which is the busiest intersection of the entire valley. On the western part, there is a small temple dedicated to goddess Annapurna. The area is surrounded by traditional markets selling beads, spices, vegetables, flowers, groceries and many essential items. Continue down south you will find one courtyard of the most sacred and beautiful temple of the valley dedicated to Lord "Seto Machindranath" worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. They Courtyard filled with a vast collection of Licchavi's era stone statues and medieval bronze stat.
Next to it is famed Indra Chowk which named after Vedic Deity "Indra".It is a centre of sale for clothes and blankets, merchants cover-ups the platform of Mahadeva Temple, the next-door shiva temple is a small copy of famed Patan Krishna Temple. But the most important shrine in the Chowk is Akash Bhairav(Bhairav of the sky)which is a single-tiered pagoda temple with a gilded roof. From balcony four metal lion rear out over the street. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside you can also take the glimpse of the silver statue of Bhairava from the street. Before completing your 1km heritage walk, be sure to light up a Diya or lamp below the Akash Bhairav temple and be sure to look for the market hidden in the alleyways to the east, crowded with stalls selling lurid beads that are so popular among Nepali women.
The Royal Palaces and Museums
The Museum Trail
Kathmandu is also blessed with a handful of museums showcasing the thousands of years of its culture and tradition. Around 800 meters south of Swayambhunath at Chauni, the sprawling National Museum which never gets crowded is a worth visit. The first gallery Judda Art Gallery showcases antique metal, stone and terracotta Buddhist and Hindu statues some of which are 1800 years old! The next gallery Buddhist Art gallery housed in an old Buddhist styled palace has an enormous collection of Thangkas(Tibetan Buddhist paintings), Buddhist statute, votive, stupas and Mandalas. The last but not the least is Historical gallery which displays a blood thirsty collection of kukris and royal weapons.
After completing the tour of the National Museum, it is now time to witness the Bravery and valour of Mighty Gurkhas. Opposite to the national museum is the Military Museum which displays leads past endless paintings of death and mayhem depicting Nepali battles. Kathmandu also has its share of a quirk in a dusty Natural history museum just below the Swayambhunath, showcasing the quirky collection of exhibits including 20ft python skin and a 9-month baby rhino in a jar guaranteed to give you nightmares.
Remnants of the Royal Past
Kathmandu is littered with hidden Rana-era palaces, many of which are converted to gardens, offices and museums. The royal palace of Singh durbar built-in 1907 now which is home to Nepal's government, which was once largest residence in Asia. The Kaiser Mahal built-in 1895 has been restored as the garden of dreams which remains one of the most serene enclaves of Kathmandu. Other notable palace conversions are Babar Mahal, Bhojan griha which are now heritage shopping arcade and restaurants. But the most impressive palace is the huge Narayanhiti Palace home to the royal family till 2008 and a museum showcasing the faded glamour of the 1970s, impressive throne and banquet rooms and photographs of royal delegates and kings. The location of the royal massacre of 2001 where Price Dipendra massacred his family is morbidly marked.
Pashupatinath: The Holiest Shrine
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is Nepal's holiest and most sacred shrine stands on banks of river Bagmati, surrounded by bustling markets selling marigolds, tikas, rudraksha,shivlings, beads, Prasad and many more religious items. Untouched by the 2015 Earthquake the pagoda style Pashupatinath temple is built in 1696, but its origins are dated back to 2500 years. From the main gate when you enter there is a huge Nandi made up of brass. Inside the main temple, there is four-headed shiv lingam. Beside the main temple, there are thousands of Temples and mini shrines on the campus. There are also cremation Ghats and ceremonial ghats beside the temple. Every evening at around 7 PM the mystical aarti is performed with the drums thumping, bells ringing and magical sounds of chants and har har Mahadev in Air.
2.Patan: The City of Fine Arts
The city sister of Kathmandu is almost a suburb of it, only divided by the Bagmati river, is once a fiercely independent city-state during the 17th century. Also known as Lalitpur(city of beauty) it is oldest among the three city-states established by Licchavis during the 3rd century.It is surrounded by 4 Stupas in cardinal direction built by Emperor Ashoka during 3rd Century BCE. This is a city of interconnected Buddhist courtyards and hidden temples.The city is also known for its fine Metal repousse and bronze arts apart from producing the largest number of artisans and craftsmen in the history of Nepal. Wander around the backstreets or make a visit to magnificent Durbar square and Patan Museum, Patan provides you finest collection of temples and courtyards in the valley.
Durbar Square and Patan Museum
The magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site Durbar square remains the focal point of visitors in Patan.It is an enormous collection of visually stunning temples, The Magnificent Palace and finest courtyards of Nepal. Durbar Square of Patan was originally built in 14 the century,but it was expanded massively during 17th century by king Sidhanarsimha Malla.The concentered mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning example of Newari architecture.
Some of the temple which are known for their beautiful Pagoda architecture are octagonal Krishna temple,Bhimsen temple and Talaju Bhawani temple,but the most famous and splendid temple of the square is the Shikra style 'Krishna Temple built by King Siddhinarsingh Malla in 1637.Constructed from carved- stone instead of the usual brick and timber-this fabulous architectural confection shows clear Indian influence.
The Royal palace in the Eastern section is known for its extravagant facade,with overhanging eaves,carved windows and delicate screens.The palace is mainly divided between three courtyards Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk which has been converted to the famed Patan Museum.Patan museum houses the finest collection of religious art in whole Asia.The museum displays the traditional sacred art of Nepal in illustrious manner.The museum's exhibits cover a long span of Nepal's cultural history and Hindu-Buddhist iconography.Most of the objects are cast bronze and repousse work,traditional crafts for which Patan is famous.The museum can be accessed by the famous Golden Gate. Installed in 1734,this finely engraved and gilded gate is topped by a metal toran showing Shiva, Parvati and their family.
The other two courtyards are accessed by a beautiful stone gate made up of finely carved torans and sculptures. The Mul Chowk and Sundari Chowk are the finest examples of courtyard architecture in Nepal. But my personal favourite is Sundari Chowk because of the finely carved stone royal bath in the centre which has 72 carved tantric deitiy and fine motifs.
The finest example of courtyard temple architecture this temple is built in 12th century Ad Further expanded and ornamented by the Mallas in 15th century. Golden temple is a Buddhist monastery centred on a beautiful Buddha statue and Tibetan frescos. The temple is covered with metal gilded plates and beautiful brass statues which are most beautiful in Patan.The temple is entered through a ornate wooden and stone doorway.The courtyard is filled with beautiful statues of Lokeshwaras(guardians), elephants and other Tibetan figurines.Facing the main temple is a beautifully carved Stupa.
Eye-catching Kumbeshwar temple is one of valleys three five-story temples and is a second tallest temple of Nepal.This tall,thin temple features some of artistic woodcarving and seems to topple gravity as it towers the surrounding houses.A large Nandi statue and a Shivlingam shows it is a Shiva shrine.
Most sights in the south are in the backstreets of Mangal Bazaar. The area has many ancient shrines and temples most of which date back to the Malla era. Baha Bahai, Minnith and Rato Machendranath are some of the most well-known temples housed between beautiful courtyards with intricate wood carvings. Continue further south you will reach Mahabouddha temple which is crammed into a tiny courtyard and is loosely modelled after Mahabodhi temple of Bodh Gaya.Built-in North Indian style with terracotta tiles bearing the image of Buddha covering it. South of Mahabouddha temple is is Uku Bahal one of the best ancient monasteries of Patan. The courtyard is jam-packed with statuary and metalwork-Dorje, peacocks, elephants, god, goddess, Buddha, Vishnu, Saraswati -the monastery also have some fine wood carvings.
3.Bhaktapur: The Cultural Capital of Nepal
Third of the ancient city-states of Kathmandu Valley it is always described as best-preserved. From 14th to 17th Century the city becomes most powerful among the three city-states. During the period of Yaksha Malla(1428-82 AD), most of the iconic structures of City were made, but the city reached its golden Age under Bhupindra Malla (18 th century) who is credited for building the great Nyaptotala temple which is considered as the best example of Newari Pagoda Architecture. Of three city states-UNESCO, World Heritage sites-Bhaktapur is most atmospheric with its brick-paved winding streets,old-brick houses, towering pagoda temples, hidden courtyards, intricately carved windows and screens, ancient statues, sprouts and the list is endless!!!!!Unlike other city-states, this city hasn't one prime central square but Three beautiful squares displaying the finest royal and religious architecture of the country. The city is also most pedestrian-friendly as most of outside vehicles are prohibited so you can experience the street life to its fullest. The town also displays its cultural life with pride, with artisans weaving cloth and chiselling the timber, squares filled with traditional pottery, Thangkas, colourful puppets and masks. Bhaktapur is also famous for its great contribution to the World of desserts-juju dhau-'King of Curds', it could be Creamiest, richest and one of the best yoghurt of the world.
The 15th century UNESCO world heritage, is a conglomeration of wood-stone-metal Art, several Pagoda style temples, a Royal Palace and an amazing museum. Some main temples built in Pagoda style are Chardham temple, Pashupatinath temple,Siddhi-Laxmi temple, Elephant temple. The western part of Royal palace is occupied by the National Art Gallery, which has an extensive collection of Hindu Tantric paintings and Buddhist Thangkas. The gallery also has impressive stone statuary and walls filled with traditional Dance masks and puppets. In the upper gallery, there are portraits of all Shah kings except last King Gyanendra who was excised from the gallery after the abolition of monarchy in 2008.Next to Art gallery there is a magnificent Golden gate which opens into the royal palace. Constructed by king Bhupatindra Malla the fabulous golden portal boasts Nepal's finest metal reppouse work. To the right of Golden gate is a series of 55 intricately carved windows which is also known as 55 Window palace.continuing the street behind the entrance you will pass by two Beautifully carved statues of traditionally dressed Rajput style brought from Rajasthan. In the end, you will reach to the sacred Taleju Bhawani temple and a 17 the century beautifully carved Nag pokhri(pond).
Known for the famous sky soaring Nyatapola temple which is the tallest temple of Nepal and one of the tallest structures of the valley, Taumadhi tole is one of the most visited squares of the town. Nyatapola temple with its five-story pagoda and soaring height of over 30 meters dwarfs all other structures in the surrounding. The perfectly proportioned King Bhupatindra Malla built the temple in 1702 AD, and the construction is so sturdy that the great 1934 earthquake d 2015 earthquake caused only minor damage on spire. The temple is reached by a large staircase flanked by huge figures of temples guardians and legendary Rajput wrestlers.Another major temple in the square is dedicated to Bhairabnath the fearsome incarnation of Lord Shiva, whose consort occupies the Nyapatola temple. The broad fronted triple roof temple is also expanded by the great king Bhupatindra Malla.
Once the original royal centre and official seat of Malla kings before it was shifted to Durbar square in 15 the century, it is occupied by the grand Dattatreya temple in centre and two beautiful Maths(monasteries). Dattatreya temple is one of the oldest temples of Bhaktapur built-in 1427 using the timber from a single tree. The three-story temple is raised above terracotta and brick base with intricate carvings. But the main attraction of the square is a series of ornate brick-and-timber buildings that maths. The best known of them Pujari math hoses woodcarving museum a part of National Art gallery. The museum displays some of the finest examples of woodcarving traditions of the valley, but the best part of the museum is the extravagantly carved wooden windows and faced in its courtyard. Its most famous feature is the superb 15th century Peacock window-which is also considered as the finest example of wood carving in the valley. Opposite to Pujari math is also an old math housing the Brass and Bronze metal museum which is also a part of National Art gallery, it showcases excellent examples of traditional metalware including ceremonial lamps and ritual vessels.
Changu Narayan Temple: The ancient one
Situated atop a narrow ridge north of Bhaktapur The Changu Narayan museum is a living museum of carvings from Licchavi period. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the statues and temple itself which is a genuine piece of art itself. It is also the oldest Hindu temple in Nepal which is still in use dating back to AD 464. Built-in two-tiered pagoda the shrine is surrounded by hundreds of mythical guardians and its main gate is gilded with metal torans and figurines. The roof struts have intricate carvings of Tantric deities. The courtyard is also dotted with amazing 5th Century statues of Lord Vishnu depicted in 10 incarnations. You can also pay a visit to nearby Changu museum which have an excellent collection of coins and many bizarre things like gallbladder of a Rhino.
The Valley Fringe: Beyond the City-states
There's more to the Kathmandu Valley than, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. The rolling hills and steep surrounding Kathmandu are studded with ancient temples, Himalayan viewpoints and Medieval temple towns. The ancient town-states of Kirtipur and Panauti were once rivalling the mighty City-states.through its magnificent architecture. Be it faded grandeur of Impressive medieval temples dotted around the backstreets of Kirtipur or magnificent Indreshwar temple set in a vast courtyard full of statuary and fine woodcarvings in the faded city-state of Panauti, all are testimony to the wonderful architecture of Nepal. Want to view Himalayan range then head to Dhulikhel and Nagarkot or spend your leisure time in Royal Botanical Gardens of Godavari. Pay a homage to Dakshinkali where she is in her most ferocious bloodthirsty Incarnation meditate in Buddhist monasteries of Kopan, Pharping or Namobuddha. The northern villages have also plenty to offer including 7 the century 5m long inclining statue of Lord Vishnu surrounded by a tank at Buddhanilakantha. The monolithic statue is one of the most impressive pieces of sculptures from Nepal. You can also visit Gokarna Mahadeva Temple famous for its exquisite stone carving showcasing A-Z iconography of Hindu culture. There are many more impressive villages like Bungamati, Kavre, Chobhar known for amazing temples and traditions. The list is endless...
Art and Architecture
Architecture and sculpting Arts are in Nepal are often inextricably intermingled. The finest wood carving and stone sculptures are often part of building.The earliest architecture in Kathmandu valley have been faded with history.The grass mound Ashoka stupas and Great stupas of Bodhnath and Swayambhunath dating back to 2nd century BCE are earliest examples of architecture in Valley.The Licchavi period between 4-6th century was a golden period,while the wooden temples of this period vanished but the amazing stone carvings can be seen at Buddhanilakantha or Changunarayan.But it was during the great age of Mallas(14th-17th Centuries) when distinctive Newari pagoda temples and palaces became a major feature of Kathmandu valley skyline.The Nepali architect Araniko can be said be the father of Asian Pagoda.He also introduced the Pagoda style in the court of Chinese king Kublai Khan,and other eastern countries like Japan and Indonesia.
Kathmandu: The All-rounder
Kathmandu offers the best shopping in the country. Everything that is turned out in various centres of production can be found here. An endless supply of curious, art pieces and plain old jink can be found around the Durbar square. Prayer wheels and prayer flags can be found the Buddhist stupas of Bodhnath, Swayambhunath and Katheshimbhu. But if you have a short of time or you have excellent bargaining powers, you can have to ultimate shopping district 'Thamel' where you can find the best collection of shops. You will find everything here spices, carpets, embroideries T-shirts, Jewellery, Pashmina shawls, tea and coffee of Ilam from far east, puppets of Bhaktapur or clothes. Thamel also has dozens of excellent book shops and mountain gear shops. I prefer Amrita craft collections offering you a broad collection of crafts and collections in Thamel, from where I bought a wooden miniature of peacock window last year.
Most of the statues you see in the sale in Kathmandu are made in Patan. Patan is a famous centre for bronze casting,repousse and other metal arts, so if you want to buy a metal statue and save money you can head to Patan. Patan is also famous for fair trade shops and Carpets.
Bhaktapur:City of crafts
Being a Cultural capital it is centre of production of almost all ranges of handicraft you can find in Nepal. Bhaktapur is famed for its pottery, which is sold in a staerring number around the main squares. Bhaktapur is also famous for its woodcarving, some of the best works you can find in alley beside pujari math and Durbar sq. Miniature models of peacock models are always popular souvenir.There are also some good metalwork on sale including metal oilamps replicas of Patan Krishna temple. Many small factories in Bhaktapur produce handmade papers from the pulp of lokta bush, which is sold all over town as photo albums, diaries, calendar, notebook etc.You can also buy colourful masks and puppets sold as souvenirs.
Even after the 2015 earthquake, Nepal remains the cultural powerhouse of Himalayas: Kathmandu valley offers an unrivalled collection of world-class palaces, hidden backstreet shrines and sublime temple art.
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