Kathmandu Durbar Square:
Kathmandu Durbar SquareTouristy Kathmandu Durbar Square is the natural place to begin sightseeing. The old royal palace, running along the eastern edge of the square, takes up more space than all the other monuments here combined. Kumari Chock, home of Katmandu's "Living goddess", overlooks the square from the south. The square itself is squeezed by the palace into two parts: at the southern and the Kasthamandap, the ancient building that probably gave Kathmandu its name, while the northern part is taken up by a varied procession of statues and temples. The building here is the greatest achievements of the Malla dynasty, and they resulted from the great rivalry between the three palaces of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. The valley was divided among the children of Yaksya Malla. For visitors today, and for the Nepalese, it was serendipitous that they, and later their off springs, began an artistic warfare trying to outdo each other in splendid contributions. Kings copied everything their neighbors built in an even grander style. A visitor who wanders around the square will see a round temple in the pagoda architectural style, the temple of Goddess Taleju, and an image of Shiva and Parbati sitting together among the many monuments
Swayambhu (Monkey Temple) :
SwayambhuThe history of the Valley, according to the legends, begins with Swayambhunath, or the self-existent. In times uncharted by history, Boddhisatwa Manjusri came acros
s a beautiful lake during his travel. He saw a lotus that emitted brilliant light at the lake's centre, so he cut a gorge in a southern hill and drained the waters to worship the lotus. Men settled on the bed of the lake and called it the Kathmandu Valley. From then on, the hilltop of the self-existent Lord has been a holy place. Swayambhu's light was covered in time because few could bear its intensity. By the thirteenth century, after many layers were added to the original structure that enveloped the Lord's power, a dome-like shape had been acquired. The stupas central mast was damaged and replaced at that time. Peripheral sources of power were discovered on the hilltop as well and stupas, temples, and rest houses were built to honour them. Images of important deities, both Buddhist and Hindu, were also installed. Today, age-old statues and shrines dot the stupa complex. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri or Saraswati - the goddess of learning. Swayambhu is, perhaps, the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal. The stupa is among the most ancient in this part of the world, and its worshippers are diverse from Newar nuns, Tibetan monks, and Brahmin priests to lay Buddhists and Hindus. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the stupa. Other monasteries here have huge prayer wheels; fine Buddhist paintings, and special butter lamps, which may be lit after presenting monetary offerings. Swayambhu is a major landmark of the Valley and looks like a beacon below the Nagarjun hill. It provides an excellent view of the Kathmandu Valley. Devotees have climbed the steps on the eastern side for centuries. Statues of the Buddha, mini stupas, monasteries and monkeys make the climb to Swayambhu - which is fairly steep - worthwhile. But for someone who is pressed for time, the western road allows you to get off your transport almost at the base of the stupa.