Kathmandu

The capital and thus the nerve centre of the mystical Himalayan country Nepal, Kathmandu is a traveller’s wet dream. Exotic culture, rich heritage, ancient architecture, famed hospitality and above all affordability makes this an exciting tourist hub. Not to forget this city is also the key to unlocking the hidden mysteries that lies beyond; a portal to all the trekking expeditions and mountaineering undertakings in Nepal.

Kathmandu makes for a uniquely individual experience. The city appeals to all your senses. It entices you with its aroma of instant sticks and tinned spices wafting over cups of teas in transparent glasses. It overwhelms with its splashes of colors; the reds of the sari on married women, the greens and yellows of pots on carts, the brown reflections on water filled potholes and blues of the cloud free sky. It tingles your taste buds with fiery hot curries and ice cold bitters.  It caresses you with silky pashminas and shy Namastes with averted eyes. It permeates you with the sound of the city; a medley of their all time hits. There is so much to take in and appreciate but above all the people of this city make it a city worth raving about. They wrap you up in a cosy knit of smiles, friendliness and openness. Here, you will make memories and friends that will last a lifetime.

History

Since time immemorial, Kathmandu has been a battleground for power. The earliest recorded rulers of Kathmandu were the Kirats dating 7th century B.C. The rajya then changed hands several times, from Kiratis to Licchhavis to Mallas. The credit for laying the foundations of the city, as it is now, goes to the Malla rulers who ruled from 12th century A.D. until the unification of Nepal in the 18th century. Specifically under Jayasthiti Malla, economic and social reforms were brought along and trade, art and architecture flourished. Infact, most of the relics around Kathmandu dates from this period namely the palaces, squares and temples. After the death of Yaksha Malla, the last ruler of Kathmandu from the Malla Dynasty, the kingdom was divided into 3 independent states – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. Territorial wars often broke out between the states which weakened the economy and their defence ultimately leading to the conquest of the valley by Prithvi Narayan Shah. He adopted Kathmandu as the capital of his Gorkha Empire for its strategic position and fertile grounds and laid the framework for modern Nepal. This city has remained the capital of Nepal ever since and continued on being the playground of the powerful and power hungry.

Getting to & Around

Getting to:

Air Travel: Kathmandu is served by an international and a domestic airport both located in the same premises in Sinamangal. Flights are available a few nominated days of the week so enquire in advance to book your trip accordingly. Direct international flights to Kathmandu are available from the following cities:

Indian Sub-continent: India – New Delhi, Kolkatta, Mumbai, Varanasi, Bagdogra
Pakistan- Karachi
Bangladesh-Dhaka
Bhutan – Paro
Middle East                 : Qatar – Doha
Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi Island
U.A.E. – Dubai, Ras-Al-Khaimah, Sarjah
Bahrain – Bahrain Island
Oman – Muscat
South East                  :China – Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou, Lhasa
Thailand – Bangkok
Singapore
Hongkong
Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur
South Korea – Seoul

Most flights from Europe and the Americas transit in the Middle East and India while flights from Australia commonly transit via India and China.
Internal Direct flights are available from the following cities listed below:

Far West          : Dhangadhi
Mid West          : Nepalgunj, Rukumkot
West                 : Bhairahawa, Pokhara
Central             : Janakpur, Simara
East                  : Biratnagar, Lamidanda, Tumling Tar, Phaplu, Rumjhatar, Bhadrapur, Bhojpur

Land: Getting to Kathmandu from India overland is possible with buses running on the direct Delhi -Kathmandu route for as little as NRS 2700 and from Lhasa, Tibet- Kathmandu for RMB 520 operational once a week. Major cities within Nepal namely Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini offer direct bus links to Kathmandu. Fares vary according to the origin point and mode of transport but expect to pay above NRS 300 for a single ticket. Similarly, other tourist destinations nearer to Kathmandu like Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, Bhaktapur, Banepa are also served by public transportation with the minimum fare being NRS 20.

Getting Around: Kathmandu has various modes of public transportation varying from pedal-rickshaws to taxis. Rickshaws are available within tourist hotspots like Thamel, New Road where it is easier to navigate crowded narrow alleyways on aboard a small vehicle. Taxis are plentiful and quite expensive but the true heroes of everyday transportation are the buses, micros and safa-tempos. The fares are pretty much similar and these trusty vehicles connect most of Kathmandu’s main chowks and gallis. Long distances are commonly covered in halves and you will need to change vehicles halfway to continue on. Such major stops to switch vehicles are at Ratnapark and Sundhara.

Geography

The north-west end of the bowl-shaped Kathmandu valley makes up the city of Kathmandu in Central Nepal. It is spread over approximately 20 sq miles and enclosed by hills in the North West and the sub-metropolitan of Patan and Bhaktapur in the south east. It lies at an average elevation of 1400 m above sea level and has a milder climate compared to other tourist destinations in the country, with average highs of 30 degree Celsius in high summer and average lows of 1 degree Celsius in the winter.

Notes:

Political situation and activities are a sudden case of happening and It would be wise to travel with tour-operators who would be responsible for getting you from A to B in case of such emergencies. Public transportation is cheap and the routes are straightforward in most cases so if on a shoe-string budget, opt for this option. Just do your homework to prevent going around in circles at Ratnapark. On a health note, get vaccinated before your travel to this sub tropical city, stick with bottled water and ease yourself into the local cuisine.

See also: Things To Do In Kathmandu