UNESCO has listed 7-religious sites in Kathmandu valley under the world cultural heritage sites, each situated in close proximity, some 20 km away from each other, you can travel each single site in a single day. These all world heritage sites are amazing man-made wonders, stand majestically. Apart from the Kathmandu valley, the UNESCO also has listed Lumbini, one another auspicious Buddhist shrine under world cultural sites. These have been prominent place for having cultural tour in Nepal, which are briefed bellow:
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square has been listed as one of the eight Cultural World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Kathmandu Durbar Square, locally known as Hanuman Dhoka, Durbar Square, is an ancient seat of the Nepalese Royalti, lies in the heart of the city. It is a cluster of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards and streets that date back to the 12th and 18th centuries. The square is known to be the social, religious and urban focal point of the capital city. The Palace Complex laid alongside was the residence of royal dynasty, until the 19th century. It has been the site of important ceremonies, such as the coronation of the then Nepalese monarch. The palace is decorated with elaborately-carved wooden windows and panels an. It houses the King Tribhuwan Memorial Museum and the Mahendra Museum.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is situated in the Center of Patan city, also known as Lalitpur, house, the residence of the former royal family in Patan. Patan Square and its surroundings are good specimen of ancient Newari architecture. There are 3-main courtyards in the palace: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk is considered to be the oldest one lies at the centre of Patan Durbar square. There are several multi-sized and multi-styled temples occupying in the western part of the complex. Main among these multi-storied temples are, Krishna Temple, Bhimsen Temple and the Golden Temple of Hiranya Varna to name a few.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five-window palace made up of brick and wood. The square is part of a charming valley as it highlights the golden image of kings perched on the top of the stone monoliths, terms to be the idols of ancient kings. The guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in very place- struts, lintels, tympanums, gateways and windows- all seem to form a well orchestrated symphony.
Changu Narayan Temple
Changu Narayan Temple is considered to be oldest temple in Kathmandu valley. It is believed that this temple came in existence in 4th century. The temple is adorned by some of the best specimen of stone, wood, and metal craft in the valley. The temple stands as the epitome of culture, religion, history and faith of the Kathmandu valley. This temple is considered to be of great importance due to its idols and shrines having rich architectural beauty.
Pashupatinath Temple, located on the banks of Bagmati River is one of the four most significant Hindu religious sites in Asia for Shiva devotees and has been listed in UNESCO World heritage sites lists in 1979. Although, it is believed that it has existed from the beginning of the millennium. The history shows that it was built in 5th century and was renovated later by Malla kings. It holds a very strong religious belief. If a Hindu takes his/her last breath at Pashupatinath and her/his body is cremated here and ashes are sprinkled in the holy water of Bagmati it is believed that her/his soul is released from the cycle of rebirth and finds the ultimate nirvana or salvation. A gold-plated roof, four silver doors, and wood carvings of the finest quality decorate the pagoda temple of Pashupatinath, dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surrounding the temple. The temple served as the seat of the Hindu deity, Pashupatinath and has been regarded as the most sacred among the temples of lord Shiva (pashupati). Only Hindu religious groups are allowed to get in, non-Hindu visitors are allowed to have a look at the temple from the other bank of Bagmati River.
Boudhanath is believed to be the oldest and the largest Buddhists Stupa in South Asia. It is one of the most auspicious pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. The huge Stupa stands some 36 m high, some 6-km away from east of the city centre. It is believed that Bouddhanath Stupa was built in 5th century by Kasyap sage, who is respected by both Hindus and Buddhists. The Tibetan refugees, who migrated in 1950s to Nepal, settled around Bouddhanath and today it has become the center of Tibetan Buddhism in the world where you can observe the Tibetan lifestyle in Bouddhanath, therefore, these areas is dobbed as mini-Tibetan. Tibetans and monks in maroon robes with prayer wheels in their hands perform their rituals. Primarily on the birth day of Lord Buddha, the big function takes place. UNESCO listed Bouddhanath in World Heritage List due to its cultural importance in 1979.
Swoyambhunath is one of the most ancient and mysterious of all the holy Buddhists shrines in Kathmandu valley. Swoyambhunath is believed to have been established more than 2,500 years ago by the then King Manadeva, according to an inscription. In due course of its establishment, Swoyambhunath developed into an important Buddhist learning site. The history of Kathmandu valley is said to have started with the beginning of Swoyambhu. Its origin is related to the visit of Manjushree a Buddhist sage, who created the Kathmandu valley from a primitive lake. According to a legend (Swayambhu Puran) of 15th century, it is believed that Lord Buddha planted a lotus that miraculously blossomed from the lake. Manjushree, while meditating at the sacred mountain, had a vision of the brilliant but mysterious light radiated by the lotus and flew across China and Tibet to worship it. In order to make it accessible to the pilgrims, Manjushree drained out water from the lake and finally the lotus was transformed into a hilltop and the light into Swayambhunath Stupa. This superior white-mound and glittering golden spire is visible from all sides of the valley. Hindus, Buddhists and other religious groups equally worship Swayambhunath even though it is a Buddhist Stupa.
Lumbini is situated outside of Kathmandu valley, Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, has been enlisted in the World Cultural Heritage site. This has become the most beautiful pilgrimage destinations for millions of Buddhists from across the world. The main attraction of Lumbini remains the sacred garden which spread over 8 sq km possessing all the treasures of the historic area. The Maya Devi temple is the main attraction for pilgrims and archaeologists alike. Siddhartha Gautama, who later attained enlightenment as the Buddha, was born in Lumbini in the spring of 623 B.C. An inscription on a stone pillar erected by Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 249 B.C. authenticates that the Buddha was born at this spot. Recent archaeological excavations have discovered the “marker stone” at the basement of the Maya Devi temple, believed to have been laid there by Emperor Ashoka to denote the exact sacred spot where the Buddha first put his foot on earth. This has further enhanced the importance and sanctity of the site. The Stupas built during different periods dating from 3rd century B.C. to 15th century A.D., the Maya Devi Temple and Pushkarni Pond where the baby Siddhartha was given his first bath after birth are some ancient edifices of Lumbini. It is accessible by air from Kathmandu to Bhairawa and then about 22 km drive to Lumbini or about 300 km southwest of Kathmandu takes about eight hours drive by bus or car.
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