World Heritage Sites of Nepal

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  • World Heritage Sites of Nepal
  • Historical Background
  • Kathmandu Durbar Square
  • Patan Durbar Square
  • Bhaktapur Durbar Square
  • Pashupatinath
  • Swayambhunath Stupa
  • Bouddanath Stupa
  • Changu Narayan
  • Lumbini – Birthplace of Lord Buddha
  • Chitwan National Park (932 sq. km.)
  • Sagarmatha National Park (1148 sq. km.)


World Heritage Sites of Nepal

There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) in Nepal. Of these four WHS, -two are in the cultural category and two WHS fall in the natural category.

In the cultural category, the seven monuments of the Kathmandu Valley (together counted as one WHS) and Lumbini – the birthplace of Lord Buddha – are included whereas the other two WHS in the natural grouping are the Chitwan National Park and Sagarmatha National Park. The Kathmandu Valley WHS comprises of three historical palaces of Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square, two Buddhist Stupas – Swayambhunath and Boudanath, and two Hindu temples Pashupati and Changu Narayan. The densest concentration of these heritage sites can be found here owing to the cultural and political importance of the Kathmandu Valley. All these monuments were designed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in October 1979. Most of the places listed in the WHS were revered for thousands of years and there has been a series of contributions and renovations in the form of construction of temples, stupas and palaces over the centuries by different rulers and kings. The WHS of Nepal are an expression of the finest sensibility of the history and lifestyle of nepal and are a legacy of the Nepalese people to human civilization.

Historical background

The Kathmandu Valley civilization is around 3000 years old. It has been claimed that the valley was a large lake in the early geological period and it was only when the lake was drained that the valley was ready for human settlement.  There is also a legend which reinforces the story that a certain Bodhistav called Manjushree came to Kathmandu Valley and cut the gorge in Chobar with his flaming sword and drained the water out of the valley making it ready for human settlement.


Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square lies in the heart of the Kathmandu city. The locals know this area by its old name Hanuman Dhoka – an ancient seat of the Nepalese Royalty. The Royal Palace during medival timese were not merely for Royal Activities but also used as the center of Administration, cultural activities and festivals.

The Historical buildings and temples in the area were erected from the time of King Ratna Malla (1484-1520 AD) to Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah (1875-1911 AD) covering the Malla, Shah and Rana period of Nepalese history. The entire palace complex here is named after a monkey god called Hanuman. One can see a huge stone statue of Hanuman painted all red next to the main entrance (the golden gate) of the palace. Hanuman here is regarded as a powerful protector of the entire Durbar Square.


Patan Durbar Square

Patan is also known as Lalitpur which means the city of arts. It is located across the river Bagmati which is 5 km south of central Kathmandu. This city founded in 3rd century A.D. by King Veera Dev has a distinction of being the home of the finest crafts and is considered oldest of all three cities of Kathmandu Valley. Most of the monuments in this square date back to the Medieval Malla period from 16th to 18th century and the monuments in the area are mostly created to King Siddhi Narsingha Malla, Shri Niwas Malla and Yog Narendra Malla.


Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur meaning the city of devotees was founded by King Ananda Dev in 1197 A.D. according to the Gopal Raj Vamsabali even though the existence of the city could be traced back to the Licchavi period (185-750 A.D.). There are many monuments including pagodas, palaces, shikhara style monuments, courtyards and Buddhists shrines and monasteries. The Durbar Square was the seat of the Malla Kings and the present structures were erected from the 12th to the 18th century A.D. Bhaktapur is located at around 12 Km away from Kathmandu city.



Situates 5 km east of Kathmandu city center, Pashupati literally means “Lord of Animals” and is considered to be the patron deity of Nepal. Pashupatinath is regarded as one of the holiest sites for Hindus all over the world.
Pashupatinath temple is a pagoda style two-tiered golden roof with exquisitely carved four silver doors containing in its sanctum a phallic idol with four faces facing each direction and the other fifth one is looking up toward the zenith. A temple dedicated to shiva was constructed at the present site by Licchavi King Supushpa Verma according to an ancient chronicle. However the present temple is claimed to have been built by King Bhupatendra Malla in 1697 A.D. legend has it that a cow would frequently escape from its herds and offer milk on a jyotilinga (phallic symbol of Shiva) which denotes the point where the temple stands today. It is said that a certain cowherd much to his surprise found the self-generated jyotilinga when he dug the spot where the cow would give milk. The spot immediately became the center of worship that has been continued till today.


Located on a lovely hillock, Swayambhunath Stupa lies 4 km west of central Kathmandu. There are 365 steps leading all the way to the top commanding a magnificient view of Kathmandu valley and the breath-taking panorama of the snow-clad Himalayan Range. The tradition in the Stupa follows the Vajrayana for of Buddhism which is a tantric variation of the Mahayana Buddhism (the great vehicle). The stupa seem to have been constructed during the Licchavi Period. Religious and literally sources give numerous accounts of the establishment and the patronage of the Swayambhunath premises. It is also interesting to note that the stupa went a series of renovation during the Malla period in the medieval times with donations made by the merchants, monks, pilgrims and Buddhist followers.


Bouddanath Stupa

Boudanath is the biggest stupa of Nepal, is located 5km east of central Kathmandu. The stupa stands on a three-tiered platform raised over the crossed rectangles in order to bring out the yantra form.

The claims made in various religious and literary texts regarding the erection of the stupa is varied and conflicting. However, the stupa is believed to have been built in the 5th century A.D. during the reign of the Licchavi kings.

As in other stupa architecture, this stupa also has Vairochana at the center followed by Aksobhya, Ratna Sambhava, Amitabha and Amogha Siddhi in east, south, west and north directions respectively. Similarly, there are one hundred and eight small niches around the stupa accommodating the icons of Buddhas, Bodhisatavas and other female deities along with conjoint figures in erotic poses. Likewise, at the bottom level, it is surrounded with the praying wheels embossed with the famous mantra Om Mani Padme Hum fixed in more than hundred and forty niches.

The stupa along with the monasteries are centers of learning, cultural activities, prayers and meditation.


Changu Narayan

Located on a magnificent hill top commanding a fantastic view of Kathmandu Valley, Changu Narayan – a temple of Lord Vishnu – lies 6 km north of Bhaktapur. The temple is full of magnificent art works in metal and wood. In fact, it is one of the finest examples of Nepalese architecture. The first epigraphic evidence of Nepalese history found in the temple premises during the reign of the Licchavi King Mandeva dating back to 464 A.D. shows that change had already been established as a sacred site in the 3rd century A.D. the present structure was probably constructed in the 17th century, though older elements have been incorporated during the restorations. The pagoda style temple has several masterpieces of 5th and 12th century Nepalese art.


Lumbini –  Birthplace of lord Buddha

Buddha was born at Lumbini in southern Nepal on a full moon day in 623 B.C. the importance of Lumbini is testified by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka who visited Lumbini in order to pay homage to the great Master and erected a pillar in 249 B.C. to indicate the birthplace of Buddha. Near the Ashoka Pillar is the newly renovated Mayadevi Temple which houses the Nativity sculpture depicting the birth scene of the Buddha. The temple also houses Marker stone discovered in 1966 A.D. which depicts the exact spot where the Buddha was born is now kept in bulletproff glass in the Mayadevi Temple.

Accommodation; Lumbini offers good hotels that are equipped with modern amenities. Visitors cann also stay in Lumbini or the nearby town of Bhairahawa.

Attractions; Lumbini tour, Buddhist circuit tour, Village Tour, Monastery Tour, Meditation, Archaelogical Tour, Crane Sanctuary and Wet-Land Tour. Great celebration take place during Buddha Purnima (April-May)


Chitwan National Park (932 sq.km.)

Chitwan National Park is established in 1973 was declared UNESCO Natural Heritage site in 1984. The park that includes in its area a part of the shivalik hills is covered with deciduous forest overlooking the floodplains of Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers and offering a wilderness of Rich ecosystem that includes mammals, birds, reptiles and water animals of several kinds. There are around 600 plant species, 50 mammals, 526 birds and 49 amphibians reptiles found in this park. The highlights, of course, are the One-Horned Rhinoceros and Royal Bengal Tigers that live in the dense forest of the park. Sharing home in this park are other animals like rhesus monkey, grey langur, deer, leopards, white stocking gaur, wild boar, wild dogs and wild cats. Among reptiles are different kinds of snakes including the python, while the river areas breed amphibians like the endangered snouted gharials popularly known as Gangetic crocodile and marsh crocodiles.

The forest is alive during summer with the arrival of migrant birds like paradise flycatcher, Indian pitta and parakeets, while winter birds include waterfowl, Brahminy ducks, pintails, bar-headed geese, cormorants and migratory birds from Siberia. Other bird varieties are woodpeckers, hornbills, peacock, peahens, floricans and redheaded trogons. A rare attraction of the park is the world’s fresh water dolphin wariety sometimes seen in river Narayani. Another factor adding distinct touch to the Chitwan experience is the colorful Tharu culture. There are also sites of religious and historical importance of Devghat, Pandavnagar, Balmiki Ashram and Kabilaspur.

Activities: jungle safari on elephant back, jungle walk, canoe ride, jeep drive and observation of Tharu Culture.

Accommodation : Resorts, Hotels and Lodges


The prime attraction of Sagarmatha National Park established in 1976, is Mt. Everest – the highest peak of the world. The park was added to the list of World Heritage site in 1979. The park, a part of Himalayan ecological zone, has several other prominent peaks most of which are above 6,000 meters. With most of the park above 3,000 meters, Sagarmatha is full of rugged terrain with deep gorges, glaciers and huge rocks. With its Himalayan terrain and its culture, the parks offer a blend of natural and cultural tourist products. The vegetation at the lower elevation is dominated by pine and hemlock forest, while above 3,500 meters the forest is dominated with silver fir, birch, rhododendron and juniper trees.  During spring and monsoon the verities of rhododendron flowers are seen. The common wildlife in the park are Himalayan Tahr, Ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel and jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard. Birds inhabiting the parks are of over 118 species. Common ones among them are the impeyan pheasant (Danphe), blood pheasant, red billed cough, yellow-billed cough, snow-cock, snow pigeon, Himalayan Griffon, and Lammergeyer. The area also provides warm Sherpa hospitality and has many monasteries and cultural landmarks. Tourism activities and farming are the main activities of the area. Growing barleys and potatoes and raising Yaks are some of the notable occupations. The majority of the youths are engaged as mountaineering and trekking guides in the season.

Activities: Trekking, Mountaineering, Cultural Observation and meditation.

Accommodation: Resort, hotels, lodges, camping


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