Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Kathmandu
Kathmandu, the capital and largest city in Nepal, is located in the eastern half of the country in the valley of the same name at an altitude of 1300 m (4266 ft). In recent years Khatmandu has experienced a massive migration to the city, and today has a population of over 600,000.
For several hundred years it was one of three rival royal cities, the others being Bhaktapur and Patan. But the unification of Nepal under Prithvi Narayan Shah and his decision to make Kathmandu his capital, set the city firmly on a course of expansion. Today Kathmandu has more of a big-city atmosphere than either Bhaktapur or Patan and possesses a more developed urban infrastructure. Among its wealth of historic buildings it can boast the largest of the ancient royal palaces (and the newest) as well as innumerable Rana palaces and important shrines. Despite the growth which has made a modern city of Kathmandu, the old center still retains something of a medieval air. The day still begins with prayers and pujas in the temples and farmers still bring their fresh vegetables to market in enormous baskets.At the same time Kathmandu faces increasingly severe Third World problems of over-population, air and water pollution and a sometimes deadly lack of hygiene. The effects of mass tourism are also plain to see. In the district of Thamel and in Durbar Marg any traces of Nepal's fascinating indigenous culture are hidden well beneath the surface. The people too behave differently from those in less tourist-affected areas. Some see this as a natural process of development, others complain of a loss of identity. One thing however is clear: Shangri La no longer exists, at least not here and not now. Yet this city of contradictions, with wonderful works of art, remains a thoroughly intriguing place.North and south of the palace precinct the streets are winding and irregular, suggesting that this was the original nucleus of the town.The streets are interrupted by large open spaces resembling squares, on which are located Kathmandu's oldest temples. Near by also are numerous bahals.Probably under Mahendra Malla, a more extensive network of streets was built, orientated north-south and east-west parallel to the Vishnumati ridge. The city is thus divided into rectangular quarters, the toles or districts of Kathmandu. Up until 1482 there were just twelve toles, each ruled by its own raja. Later there were 32 toles. Today on the south-east side the grid pattern is broken, whole quarters having been demolished following the 1934 earthquake.Cutting diagonally across this rectangular network of streets is the ancient Bazaar Street, on the line of the old route from India to Tibet. Its effect is to create intriguing triangular spaces at intersections, where many of Kathmandu's major temples are found.
Tribhuvan International Airport
Tribhuvan International Airport is Nepal's only international airport.
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