Both geology and lore agree: in ancient times there was an enormous oval-shaped lake where Kathmandu valley was. In the middle of it, according to legend, grew a magic lotus flower. Bodhisattva Manjushri cut the rocks with his sword of Wisdom, water dripped through the breach, the former bottom of the lake became a fertile valley and people from the mountains came here. The flower ended up on a hill 77 m high, and a temple (stupa) of Swayambhunath (“God who created himself out of nothing a million million years ago for all and forever”) was erected over it. Buddhists believe that the prayers said here have “13 billion times” more power than in any other place. Science attributes the rupture to an earthquake that formed the Chobar Gorge, through which water leaked out, and confirms that the land here is fertile and people settled in the 3rd and 4th centuries. They were Nevari, one of the Tibeto-Burman group, who are now the ethnic majority in Kathmandu. The first written evidence of them dates back to the 5th century, when the Lichchhavi dynasty ruled. At the beginning of the XII century, according to chronicles, the Malla dynasty came to power. It is associated with the “golden age” of the valley: the construction of Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan), Bhaktapur, Panauti, Changu Narayan, Thimi, Kirtipur and others. Under the last monarch of the Malla dynasty (in the 18th century) the kingdom was divided among his three sons whose residences were located in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. In 1768-1769 the king of the Gorkh Prithvi dynasty, Narayan Shah, conquered the valley and moved his capital to the city of Kathmandu. The new state was named Nepal. The Shah dynasty ruled the country until May 28, 2008. On that day, the country’s Constituent Assembly proclaimed the Republic of Nepal.
The main thing that everyone who finds themselves in Kathmandu for the first time, its poor people are surprisingly cheerful. Unlike civilized credit card slaves It is hard to imagine that there are people in the world who never experience the slightest bit of anxiety, but the residents of Kathmandu’s slums constantly look as if they have just become millionaires. Undoubtedly, their mentality has been shaped by the fact that none of Nepal’s many nationalities has ever experienced colonial dependence. In addition, they have a very rich spiritual life, judging by the abundance of small Buddhist and Hindu statues and altars, not to mention world-famous temples.
The name Kathmandu has been known since the 14th century. Before that, it was known as Kantipur and until the late 16th century as Kantipur or Kathmandu. Linguists deduce it from one of the city’s religious buildings, Kastamandap, which means “temple of wood” in Sanskrit. It stands on the central square of Durbar, built in the 12th century without a single nail and is believed to be made of one mighty tree. In total there are about 50 buildings on Durbar: temples, palaces and pagodas. The main palace and temple complex Hanuman Dhoka, the entrance to which, the Golden Gate, is guarded by a statue of Hanuman, king of the monkeys. Nearby are the Degu Khaleju Temple and the octagonal Krishna Mandir Pagoda. Kathmandu’s Hindu shrine, the Pashupatinath Shiva Temple, is considered the world’s premier temple of the god Shiva, one of whose names is Pashupati, which means “lord of all living beings.
In Kathmandu there is also a temple of Kumari Ghar, the residence of the living incarnation of the virgin goddess Kumari-Devi. She is believed to take possession of a Nevari girl of three or four years of age and live in her body until she reaches puberty. There are a lot of people in front of this temple. And each of the people who come here hopes to see Kumari at least in a window, it’s already happiness. And if she smiles, it is a sign of heavenly grace.
No traveler visiting Kathmandu passes Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, or at least one of them, it is simply impossible to imagine. The royal cities competed with each other in the beauty of their temples and palaces, and ended up creating one rich architectural masterpiece space. Lalitpur (Patan) on the southern bank of the river Bagmati almost merges with Kathmandu, but in contrast to it, it is predominantly a Buddhist city, besides the beautiful temples, there are 150 monasteries, the Royal Palace. In Lalitpur was the Buddha, this is based on legends, but what is known for sure, is that back in 1000 in Lalitpur, lived about a hundred thousand people. It was one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the world at that time. The name Lalitpur translates as Beautiful City.
From Kathmandu to Bhaktapur is also not far, just 15 kilometers to the east. It has two other names, Bhadgaon and Khwopa, which means The Faithful City. The main religion here is Hinduism. There are a total of 172 temples in Bhaktapur and even the ordinary houses look a bit like them – the people living in them themselves decorate them with carved bas-reliefs with Hindu symbols of eternal life, male and female origin. For this reason, Bhaktapur differs from Kathmandu for the better. The houses in the capital, unlike the temples, are neither well decorated nor well maintained. And they are all low, usually no more than four stories high.
Since ancient times a variety of crafts flourished in the Kathmandu valley. The most skilful craftsmen are known as nevars. At the street markets in the capital they sell copper, bronze and wooden figurines, carved wooden objects, thangka paintings on religious themes on silk, gold and silver jewelry, fabrics, wool blankets and handmade carpets, batiks, cloth bags, clothes, national knives kukri, musical instruments, tiger balm and much more. The market is full of bright colors, striking extravagance, but the most amazing thing is that you can buy here a genuine work of art. And not so rare. Nearby is often sold and mountaineering equipment, offering tourists their services Sherpa guides to the peaks of the Himalayas, and above all – to Dzhomolungma (8848 m, according to recent measurements 8850 m). The world’s greatest peak has three names: Jomolungma is Tibetan, Everest is English, and in Nepali the peak is called Sagarmatha. So is the National Park, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, on the northern edge of which it is located. It is 240 km from Kathmandu to the “gateway” of Sagarmatha Park. It is no coincidence that Sherpas look for work in Kathmandu. For most climbers, the most important expedition of their lives begins here.
And all of them make sure to visit the bar-restaurant Rum Doodle, which can be loosely translated as “The Odd Man”. It is located in one of the most unpresentable areas of the city, but no one pays attention to this. On the walls are hung yellowed clippings of newspaper and magazine articles about the deeds of the famous mountaineers, and on the huge “Bigfoot prints” made of cardboard with autographs of mountaineers, their drawings, short sayings and poems. Rum Doodle, as they say, is a cult place and a kind of a talisman: the owners promise to feed everyone who makes a successful ascent or trekking for free for the rest of their lives. The jokes are jokes, but most often people here have serious conversations about how much faith in one’s own strength is needed, and if one has it, everything will work out. And there is no more important topic of conversation here at the foot of the Himalayas, the “throne of the gods,” as the Nepalese call them, in Kathmandu…
- The capital and largest city of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
- The city was founded, according to some sources, in 723 and others in 900.
- Administrative divisions: 5 districts.
- Languages: Nepali, Maitkhali (Indo-Aryan group), Navari, Tamang (Tibeto-Burman group), and many other languages and their dialects.
- Ethnic composition: Nevaris, Magars, Tharu, Tamangs, Bhojpuri, Gurungs, Sherpas, Limbu, Paradise, and other ethnic groups.
- Religions: Buddhism, Hinduism; there are also communities of Tantrism and Islam followers.
- Currency: the Nepalese rupee.
- Major rivers: Bagmati and Bishumati.
- The most important airport: international airport Tribhuvan.
- Area: 50.67 km2.
- Population: City: 989,280 (2010), agglomeration: 1,687,100 (2009).
- Population density: 19 524 people/km2.
- Maximum altitude: 1355 m.
- According to the World Bank (2008) the average annual income of the average resident of Kathmandu is $ 400 (in the country as a whole the figure is about $ 250)
- The city lives mainly from the trade in handicrafts and tourism.
Climate and weather
- Tropical monsoon climate with the mountainous terrain offering great diurnal temperature variations and winds that quickly lower the humidity after heavy rains.
- Average temperature in January: +10°C.
- Average July temperature: +24°C.
- Average annual rainfall: 1425 mm.
- Rainy season: May – September (80% of precipitation).
- Included on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Lambini in the Kathmandu Valley, Birthplace of the Buddha, the towns of Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan), Bhaktapur, and Panauti, the temple complex in Changu Narayan (15th century. After a fire, rebuilt in the 18th century), the Hanuman Dhoka Palace and Temple Complex in Kathmandu (15th century), the Buddhist stupas of Swayambunath (1st century, reconstruction of the 14th century) and Bodhnath (6th century), the Hindu temple complex Pashupatinath (5th century).
- Kathmandu city: temples – Degu Khaleju, Ashok Vinayak, also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh, Jaishi Deval, Akash Bhairav, Mahendra Nath, Mahakal, Bhadrakali, Lumarkhi and others, most of them belong to the 14th and 16th centuries. Palaces – the Lion (Singh Durbar) (now the seat of government) and the former Royal Palace of pink marble, palace-museum Narayanhiti (1970), now the National Museum: Bazantapur Tower, which offers a view of the Old City with its three or four-story buildings, Dharahara Tower, Tundikkhel area – green area of the city, Natural History Museum.
- Lalitpur: Durbar Square, where the Royal Palace and the Patan Museum are located, Hiranya Varna Maha Vihar, or the Golden Temple of a Thousand Buddhas (12th century). Kumbeshwar (14th century) Mahabodhi (16th century) temples, other temples and pagodas, Museum of Archaeology.
- Bhaktapur: Durbar Square: Royal Palace, Art Gallery, Tamadoi Tole Square with pagodas, Tachala Tole Square with several temples. Many free-standing temples and pagodas.
- Panauti (30 km from Bhaktapur): Mahadev Mandir temple, other temples and pagodas.
- At the center of the Swayambhunath temple complex stands a large Buddhist stupa, around which are several Tibetan and a small Hindu sanctuary. There are 365 steps leading up to the stupa, according to the number of days in the year. On the steps frolic monkeys, because of which the hill, on which stands the stupa is also called Monkey. The temple appeared about two thousand years ago, but in the XIV century. was destroyed by newcomers from Bengal, who were looking for gold here. It was soon rebuilt, with a staircase appearing in the 17th century.
- The wall of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace in Kathmandu has inscriptions in 15 languages, including English and French, but the other languages are rare or very rare. King Pratar Malla, who was known as a polyglot, had the text carved on the wall in 1664. “If anyone but me can read this text,” he said arrogantly. admiring the finished work, milk will flow from the chute in the center of the inscription.” It hasn’t flowed yet But from time to time another wave of rumors begins to circulate that most of these 15 languages were invented by the king himself, the cunning man having thus encoded a description of the place where he hid the untold treasures.
- There is a freak street in Kathmandu. It was named after the hippies who settled on and around this street in the 1960s.
- The Pashupatinath Shiva Temple stands on the banks of the Bagmati. Like the Ganges of India, this river is considered sacred and worshippers take ritual dips in the water and also wash the dead here before burial.
- The girls, of whom Kumari was chosen, were recently subjected to a cruel test of fearlessness. At night the little girl, alone, was locked in a room with statues of terrible animals and mythical monsters, not only that: people in the form of “ghosts” could burst into the room. If a girl cried or screamed with fear, she was “out of the contest”, a true Kumari must have great spiritual power. The current Kumari, Matani Shakya, became a living goddess in 2008, at the age of three.
- The “all-seeing eyes of the Buddha” stupa of Swayambhunath and Bodhnath Kathmandu is one of his most replicated images. This symbol is traditional in Nepal and Tibet. The eyes are depicted on a stone cube above the stupa hemisphere. The sides of the cube are oriented strictly along the sides of the world. Between the eyes is a bright point of the “third eye”, a sign of spirituality and enlightenment, which is understood as a detachment from all that is transient and finite in the name of eternal truth. Buddha, translated from Sanskrit, means Enlightened.