Nepal is known for its glorious views of the Himalayas and the adventurous and deadly climb up towards the famous Mt. Everest. But this place offers more than trekking through the snow-capped mountains. The country is also known for its unique culture, soul-filling adventure, and the various temples of worship that give the country its divinity. And these things can be found at the heart of the Kathmandu valley.
Out of all the Kathmandu attractions, the three Nepal kingdoms (aka Nepal Durbar Squares) stand out the most. They are dipped in rich history and amazing architecture of huge palaces, stunning 3rd century stone, and woodwork which explicitly speaks of the art and culture of medieval Nepal.
Although the 2015 earthquake destroyed and ruined some of the structures of the Durbar Squares and is currently being rebuilt, it is still worth every second of your visit and is one of the must-visit places in Kathmandu. What’s more, all three kingdoms are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So buckle up and read on about the places where you will have an adventure in a very Indiana Jones style. After all, there are one of the top places to visit in Kathmandu.
About Patan Durbar Square
Situated in Kathmandu Valley, Patan is one of the three Durbar Squares and is the oldest Buddhist city with structures dating back presumably before and in the 1600s. Although the city’s history is shrouded in mystery its sight is nothing less of a marvel. Patan Durbar Square is where you would get to see the mega-sized inside courtyards that once belonged to the Malla Kings.
Mul Chowk is one of the central courtyards of the palace. Hunch and enter through small doors with intricate work of the medieval times to access this courtyard. Once you walk through the doors, you will be met with a vast open space with huge palace rooms and ancient pillars all around you. The Tusha Hiti, a carved sunken water tank built in 1647 for the king to perform ritual ablutions looks like it came right out of a Tomb Raider movie and will undoubtedly leave you in awe. It has 72 carved stone plaques that depict Tantric deities in various forms.
Patan also has other courtyards that has a huge ancient-style ‘swimming pool’ where the king and queen would bathe in. It’s stone works reflect the eras of the rest of the place.
Patan also has a museum called the Keshvak Narayan Chowk where you will see stone and priceless bronze carvings and statues of Buddhas and Hindu deities on display. The place was also used as a filming location for part of 2016’s Doctor Strange movie as well as a famous South-Indian Malayalam movie called ‘Yodha’ in 1992.
If Kathmandu sight-seeing is in your list, then Patan should not be missed.
Features of Basantapur Durbar Square
The durbar square that was heavily hit by the 2015 earthquake, Basantapur sits close to Thamel, one of the popular streets for souvenirs, antiques and everything else you can think of. This medieval city has most of its temples and structures in ruins and are currently being rebuild. The chilling after effects of how devastating a 7.9 magnitude earthquake can be to both old and new alike is evident here.
That said, the place is still worth a visit with the standing structures that were built all the way back to the 3rd century. The architecture of the temples and palaces vividly showcases the incredible craftsmanship of the native Newar people.
Basantapur is also where you would see the Living Goddess Kumari. Various temples are lined up all over the Durbar square along with a Museum.
Fascinating Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Greeted with the huge statues of lions guarding the city, this is undoubtedly the best out the three Durbar Squares where the 2015 earthquake had the least impact. Most of its structures are still standing and can be visited.
One of the major attractions and the most impressive building is the Nyatapola Temple. In Newari language it means five stories which showcases the five basic elements. It’s design is also very unique with the base starting as the widest and the stairs becoming narrower as you climb up.
The Nyatapola Temple is the biggest and highest Pagoda in Nepal. It’s unbelievable architectural perfection made it withstand two major earthquakes without causing a crack on the temple’s sturdy stones.
Bhaktapur also has various other intricate temples and stunning palaces. One of them being the 55-window palace, an art gallery, and various other buildings.
But what makes Baktapur stand-out from the other two kingdoms is not just its incredibly strong structures and the engineering that went behind it but the ancient streets that are now filled with souvenir shops.
This is where you will probably find yourself wandering through the old streets from the 1600 AD. Tons of souvenir shops and stalls are lied up in front of buildings with windows and designs that are undoubtedly from the era of the ancient kings. The narrow passageways is where you will find antiques as well as Nepal natives wandering around. And not to mention, it is where the art of pottery takes place. Walkings through this street and around Basantapur is definitely one of the best things to do in Kathmandu.
There is no doubt that these three medieval kingdoms is where you will find awe-striking architecture, incredible carvings and designs that spoke of geniuses who could think far beyond their times. You will find about the life of kings who once ruled and walked through this city.
Where to stay in Kathmandu for easy visit to the three kingdoms
For easy access to the kingdoms and temples in Kathmandu, Hotel Jay Suite is one of the best hotels in the Jyatha Thamel area with a friendly, young and vibrant staff, an enjoyable stay and great amenities.
Warm and easy-to-the-eye decor makes the hotel look cool and elegant. A small and cozy restaurant serves the tastiest dishes with reasonable prices so you don’t have to worry about heading out to a restaurant. The hotel also arranges all kinds of tours from visiting the three kingdoms to Mt. Everest Base Camp trek if you’re don’t exactly know what to see in Kathmandu.
The hotel is also situated close to Thamel which is the popular street for shopping for all kinds of things from souvenirs, antiques and trekking gears. So if you are looking for a comfortable, budget-friendly stay with all the amenities of a 4 or 5 star hotel, then this is the place to head up.
Best Time to Visit Nepal
If you are planning a trip to this amazing country, make sure to pack your travel bags in time for March. While October to December is the best season, all the famous tourist places in Nepal will be crowded with a never ending flock of people making your Kathmandu sight-seeing difficult and irritating.
March is when the cold of winter comes down and the summer starts. Though temperatures can rise in daytime with quite a bit of, it remains pleasant enough to walk around and explore all the best places in Kathmandu. There won’t be mobs of crowds to block your views either.