Look beyond the overcrowded streets, pollution and you will find there is grace.
The valley capital city of Kathmandu is a cultural kaleidoscope, where so much can be experienced in a very short time and leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Look beyond the overcrowded streets, pollution and you will find there is grace. Kathmandu is the centre of Nepal’s history, art, culture and economy. Despite the chaos its charisma shines in the ancient temples and Buddhist stupas; listed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
DAY 1: 5:00 – 10:00 AM
An early morning 30-minute hike to from Swayambhunath-Thamel area, to witness the sun rise above the Kathmandu valley will set your mood for the day. Swayambhu is an ancient Buddhist stupa atop a hill in the valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Swayambhu complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period.
Skip your breakfast at the hotel and dive into a local tea shop for some authentic local breakfast treats. Gwaramari, Jerry and Swari, Sel-Roti; try any one of these tasty breakfast snacks and help yourself to a cup of dudh chiya (milk tea) to sip along for a hearty breakfast.
Make your way through Asan Tole, a crowded market square and the heart of traditional shopping in Kathmandu to take in the sights, sounds and smells. Next head to the nearby Kathmandu Durbar Square, a treasure trove of art and architecture. The ancient royal palaces of the Malla kings of Kathmandu to various temples and monuments that carry both historical and religious significance are located here.
DAY 1: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
As you stroll around the Kathmandu Durbar Square, take in all the local activities, crafts and traditions. Then enjoy a scrumptious and generous meal of ‘Daal, Bhat, Tarkari’ (steamed rice, lentil soup, pickles and seasonal vegetable/meat curry).
Walk around the shopping districts in and around Durbar Marg and Thamel. Some local handicraft products such as wooden masks, pashmina shawls, hemp bags, singing bowls, thangka paintings, et cetera might just be the souvenir you were looking for.
DAY 1: 3:00 – 7:00 PM
Visit Pashupatinath area to indulge in a spiritual journey. Known as one of the most important temples for Hindus, Pashupatinath has quite a few attractions other than the temple itself; a garden of stone terraces covered in dozens of small Shiva shrines, Bachhareshwari Temple, Religious Market, Guhyeshwari Temple, Gorakhnath Temple, et cetera.
From Kathmandu, the most convenient way to Pashupatinath is by taxi (Rs 500 from Thamel). If you are walking or cycling, head east from the Narayanhiti Palace through Naxal, meeting the Ring Road near the Jaya Bageshwari Temple. To reach Pashupatinath Temple, cross the Ring Road and follow the winding lanes lined with religious stalls towards the Bagmati. Go sightseeing around the Pashupatinath area and settle in for a mesmerising ritual of Pashupatinath Bagmati Aarati on the banks of Bagmati when the clock strikes 6:00 pm.
Aarati is a ritual of worship in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) is offered to God. Pashupati Bagmati Aarati begins as three priests conduct the custom with oil lamps, lanterns along with devotees singing hymns in praise of god, playing of classical instruments, chanting of sacred mantras, ringing of bells, burning of incense. The spellbinding evening ritual is an immersive spiritual experience.
DAY 1: 7:00 PM Onwards
Explore the nightlife galore of Kathmandu city at Thamel. Hop a few bars, grab a quick bite or opt for a fancy dinner, Thamel has it all.
DAY 2: 8:00 AM to Noon
To be able to stick with the lifestyle, which our ancestors practiced is probably the toughest challenge anyone could face. However, a few kilometers away from the cosmopolitan city of Kathmandu, time stopped many centuries ago. Khokana and Bungamati are two villages flanking each other boasting and practicing traditional lifestyle. Preserved in time like a photograph, Bungmati and Khokana are typical Newari villages, traditional enough to surprise any new traveller with their ways of life.
You begin the Bungmati and Khokana village tour early in the morning. A public bus or a private vehicle takes you from Kathmandu to Lalitpur district in roughly 45 minutes. You take a tour of the Bungamati village and of the Rato Machindranath which is a huge shikhara style temple.
After finishing the Bungmati tour, you head north towards Kokhana. Travel back in time as you tour the authentic Living Museum, Khokana.
DAY 2: 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
On your way back stop by Patan Durbar Square. The core of urban Lalitpur, Patan Durbar Square tells a story of history through its numerous monuments and traders. Travel down the crowded gallis (alleys) and discover peaceful bahals (courtyard). Grab a bite of local Newari snacks at any one of the several restaurants. Enjoy dishes such as bara, chatamari, choila and yomari.
Get a good grasp of the golden era of Newari art and architecture by visiting the Patan Museum. Once the ancient palace of the Malla Kings, the museum now houses the finest collection of religious and historic art.
DAY 2: 5:00 PM Onwards
Head to Bhojan Griha to experience Nepali cuisine. Enjoy the authentic dishes that are freshly made from local produce along with folk dance and music. Head back to your hotel and mark the end of your 48 hours in Kathmandu.