Towards the north of the Kathmandu valley, just from where the hustle and bustle of the urban world start to fade away, and the imaginary lines of the city get blurred into the outskirts, lies the Shivpuri National Park. The sprawling sub-tropical forest, spreading for around 160 square meters, the forested area covers the districts of districts of Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk. Other than being a biodiversity hotspot, this is also a favourite place of the locals for hiking, trekking and mountain biking. Tourists who love to tread the path less travelled and take the offbeat journey also should keep a day or two for a visit to these woods.
With trekking trails, lush greenery, and a variety of species of flora and fauna, the Langtang National Park is the fourth national park that was established in Nepal in 1976. The Langtang National Park is situated at an approximate distance of 32 kilometres to the north of the capital city of Kathmandu and is connected to the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve in Tibet. The picturesque park is also home to the serene, high altitude Gosaikunda Lake, which is believed to be sacred. Being encompassed by hills on all sides, this place makes for a sight to behold. From the dense forests which comprise the hilly areas, the area of the park spreads across the Nepalese larch in the middle before cascading down to the vast meadows of green grasslands. With more than 250 species of birds, around 46 species of mammals, and a whopping 1000 species of plants, this place is ideal for nature enthusiasts.
Known For : Maya Devi Temple Bodhi Tree, Lumbini Mayadevi Pond
Nirvana is not too far when you step foot in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, nestled in the lap of the Himalayas. A serene pilgrimage site located close to the Indian border, Lumbini is placed in Nepal's Rupandehi District. An abode of Buddhism, the entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with stupas and monasteries lining the entirety of Lumbini. This is one of the foremost sites of a Buddhist pilgrimage - people come here from all over the world to study scriptures, learn more about this religion of peace, contemplate and refresh their hearts and souls. Lumbini is the place to be if you want to reassess your life, find inner peace and discover yourself. The aura of positive energy in the air is bound to rejuvenate your mind.
Best Time: April to May
Known For : Paragliding in Nagarkot Nagarkot Nature Trail Nagarkot Panoramic Hiking Trail
If you want to see the Himalayan mountains in all their glory, Nagarkot is the place to be! This tiny village burrowed in the lap of the towering peaks is a part of Nepal's Bhaktapur district. Perched at the edge of Kathmandu Valley, Nagarkot gives you one of the widest panoramas of the Himalayan ranges - you can spot 8 out of the 13 Himalayan ranges from the comfort of your hotel. The Annapurna, Manaslu, Langtang, Jugal, Everest, Numbur, Ganesh Himal and the Rolwaling ranges can be seen from Nagarkot on a clear day - can the scene get any more postcard-perfect than this!?
Best Time: October to March
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As the first rays of the sun fall on the glittering golden spire, the Swayambhu Temple steals away the spotlight as it unveils its glorious features and stands with an enigma that is impossible to miss. Perched on top of the Semgu Hill located in the outskirts to the west of the Kathmandu Valley, this temple is often considered to be one of the crowning glories of the country’s architectural skills. The Swayambhu Temple is one of the most captivating of all the religious shrines in the city of Kathmandu and for good reason. Its colossal white dome, crowned by a scintillating spire, gives it a regal appearance which draws people to it on a daily basis. Circumnavigating the temple in a clockwise direction is a common practice among the pilgrims since it is believed to wash away all the sins. The sanctum is one of the holiest sites among the Buddhists and Tibetans and is second only to the Lord Buddha for them.
Located 15 km to the South West of the magical valleys of Kathmandu, this climb is considered to be highly adventurous and demanding (5.7-5.11 grade climb). The months of monsoon (June-August) should be avoided as the rains make the rocks slippery to climb. Autumn and Spring are the best seasons to visit this place and indulge in some rock climbing. On your way there you will spot many monasteries and temples where you can halt for a break. 8 different routes take you to the rock climbing spot. All of these routes are well maintained. It is recommended to hire an experienced local trekker who can guide you with all the know-how.
The Hattiban Resort is a popular resort where guests can relax here and soak in the picturesque beauty of the Nepalese Alps spanning from Langtang to Gauri Shankar. This hotel, at a distance of about 20 kms from Kathmandu, is the second oldest resort in the Hattiban area and is surrounded by tall pine forests. They offer small and private cottages or lodges, ranging from INR 7.5k-9k per night with all amenities and breakfast included.
Namo Buddha Monastery is located about 45 kilometres outside of Kathmandu in the Kavre District. Since the monastery is situated at a slightly elevated land, it is a centre of attraction as it offers breath-taking views. Previously known as Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery, Gautam Buddha renamed it as Namo Buddha, which means ‘Homage to Buddha’. This monastery has an interesting legend which is about 6000 years old but was only found in the year 1978 by V.V. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.
Neydo Tashi Choeling Buddhist Monastery is located one hour away from Kathmandu. The primary purpose of this monastery is to preserve the Neydo tradition. Around 200 monks live here, and visitors are allowed to interact and know more about their monastic life as well.
Kathmandu is a city which is energetic, colourful, chaotic, and filled with rich heritage and culture. There are fast, swooping, singletrack trails, lined with fluttering prayer flags covered in sneaky little rock sections that passing through the native forests and villages. This experience will allow you to enjoy the breath-taking views of the vast Nepalese Himalayas.
Now that you have a brief idea about the experiences Kathamandu awaits you, pack up, explore and let us know about your experiences in the comments section below!