The Charming city of Nepal
By Shereen Shabnam
Exploring the city and outskirts of Kathmandu is an exciting and an intoxicating experience for visitors from around the globe with bustling streets, a large variety of flora and fauna, medieval temples and some of the best hiking and walking trails.
The city has character with old charm architecture intricately carved wooden doors and windows, lively narrow streets filled with shops dedicated to small yet thriving specialist businesses full of different colours, smells with sounds of tourists mixed with locals.
Although I have visited Nepal a number of times, this year I attended the Himalayan Travel Mart, organised with the objective to establish Nepal as a Gateway to the Himalayas and as a destination capable of hosting events at international level. The travel mart hosted around 74 Buyers from 36 countries and over 50 sellers, representing the Himalayan Region, Bhutan, India, Tibet, Indonesia and Nepal.
It is best to arrange a sightseeing tour of Kathmandu City with a visit to the Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu Durbar Square), an ancient durbar (palace) with its numerous old palaces, temples and pagodas. Visit the famous Temple of Living Goddess “Kumari”, and the Kasthamandap Temple, believed to be constructed from the wood of a single tree from which Kathmandu derives its name.
Nepal is a Himalayan Kingdom often referred to as the “Land of Mount Everest” and the “Land of Living Goddess-Kumari”. Abroad, the country is also associated with the heroism of its brave warrior ancestors – the talented “Gorkhas”.
My favourite part of the adventure was visiting a monastery in the mountains and meeting the resident monks. A definite must visit is the Boudhanath Stupa – an ancient colossal stupa and the center of Tibetan Buddhism in the world and the Pashupatinath Temple – the Temple of Lord Shiva situated on the bank of the Bagmati River.
The excursions take time but if you want good views, head to Swayambhunath Stupa, which is situated atop a hill from where you can get a bird’s, eye view of Kathmandu Valley. I also enjoyed the views from the Namo Buddha Stupa, which offers a serene ambience ideal to meditate in.
I fell in love with the local cuisine and yet surprisingly had some of the best international cuisine in the city as well. Who would have thought that the best pizza I would ever eat will be in a quaint restaurant called Fire and Ice in the streets of Kathmandu.
We visited an orphanage as well after a visit to a monastery. The orphanage is part of a CSR initiative called Mission Himalaya, which focuses in providing free education, free healthcare and poverty relief aid to the needy people from the remote and under-developed regions of Nepal.
I spent the last few days exploring the shops and markets with two fashionable and seasoned travellers and together we got fascinated and taken in with the beautiful gemstones, the colourful pashmina shawls, the soothing musical instruments and comfortable yet classic clothes designed to stay trendy for years in places like Indra Chowk to luxury boutiques.
The wide variety of products in all price ranges is attractive to all ages and tourists often head to the Thamel area for souvenirs and handicrafts.
Going back to Nepal ended up being a therapeutic and calming holiday cum work destination that I needed and meeting travel aficionados from all over the world who are passionate about the Himalayas was definitely an added bonus. I look forward to my next visit already.