Kathmandu is the capital city and the biggest urban agglomerate of Nepal, comprising of Kathmandu Metropolitan City in the center, along with its sister cities Patan, Thimi, Kirtipur, and Bhaktapur.
Home to almost 2.5 million people, Kathmandu has the most developed urban infrastructure in the country. Besides being the administrative capital of Nepal, this city is also its economic capital. Tourism is the most important industry here. Hinduism is the prevalent religion along with Buddhism. Nepali is the most commonly spoken language in Kathmandu, though Hindi and English is widely understood.
The city of Kathmandu is situated in the north-western part of Kathmandu Valley. It covers an area of 50.67 sq. km, and is located at an average elevation of 1,350 meters above sea level. Eight rivers flow through the city, among which Bagmati and Bishnumati are the most predominant. Nepal is divided into five main vegetation zones. Kathmandu and its valley fall in the Deciduous Monsoon Forest Zone.
How to Reach (Transport) :
Kathmandu is served by the only international airport in Nepal, the Tribhuvan International Airport. Majority of the flights arrive via Delhi, Bangkok and some of the gulf countries like Qatar and Bahrain. Malaysia Airlines, Air China, Indian Airlines, Korean Airlines Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Pakistan International Airlines are some of the international airlines serving Kathmandu. Domestic flights are offered by Yeti Nepal Airlines and Buddha Air.
Kathmandu has frequent buses to different parts of the country, as also to several cities in India near the Nepal border. However, this is an extremely slow journey due to poor roads. Trains are not available here.
Buses and taxis are the only safe options when traveling within the city and to other nearby places. Cars and bikes can also be rented. Blue buses and green buses drive around the city in loops on the Ring Road.
When to Visit :
The Kathmandu Valley experiences a warm temperate climate represented by warm days followed by cooler nights. Rainfall generally occurs during the monsoon months of June to August. The ideal time to visit this beautiful valley would be from December to March when the rainfall is the least and the temperature is cooler.
Fairs and Festivals :
Most of the fairs and festivals celebrated in Kathmandu at present originated in the Malla period. As the capital of the nation, various national festivals are observed here.
- Bikram Sambat's New Year in April is a day of pilgrimage from Kathmandu to the holy Bagmati River.
- Teej is celebrated in September by all the women in the nation. Married women dress up in their traditional marriage garments and pray for their husbands.
- Indra Jatra or the harvest festival is held in Kathmandu's Durbar Square for a period of eight days in September. The Goddess Kumari is paraded throughout the city in her sacred chariot.
- Tihar, or Deepawali, takes place around the end of October. This five-day festival is marked by lanterns, candles and fireworks.
- Himalayan Blues Festival is one of the most important music festivals in Kathmandu that takes place in October-November.
- Dashain is a fifteen-day long national festival held in October-November. This is marked by animal sacrifices and sowing of barley seeds in the hope of a prosperous year ahead.
Nestled among the Himalayas, Kathmandu offers a majestic view of the mountains. Besides the natural scenic beauty, the city also offers the following sites that attract tourists from all over the world :
- Swayambhu is a large Buddhist stupa that offers a panoramic view of the city.
- Boudha Stupa is a must see in Kathmandu. It is one of the most sacred sites of Tibetan Buddhism.
- The Narayanhiti Palace has now been converted into a museum that gives an insight into the former royal lives to the visitors.
- Pashupatinath Temple is an important religious abode of the Hindus and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- The Garden of Dreams, or Kaiser Mahal, is a walled garden that offers tourists few moments of peace along with a cafe and an Open Air Theatre.
- Kathmandu Durbar Square is crowded with palaces and temples, along with the Kasthamandap temple that gives the city its name.
- The casinos are a major point of attraction among the travelers in the capital of the nation. There are seven casinos in Kathmandu located in the city's top hotels. Gaming goes on endlessly in these casinos all year round. Besides, there are regular concerts and dance performances held too.
There are plenty of accommodation options available in various price ranges. Several palaces have been converted into luxury hotels, like Hotel Shanker, Hotel Yak and Yeti, that offer five-star amenities along with other hotels like Hyatt Regency, Hotel D'Annapurna, Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Dwarika's, to name a few. Several hotels like Ambassador Hotel, Kathmandu Guest House, The Garuda, offer excellent services at a reasonable rate. Among the cheaper hotels are Hotel Silver Home, Mahadev Guest House, Kohinoor Inn Hotel, Sun Rise Cottage, and many others.
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Last Updated : January 22, 2014