Bodhnath Stupa, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal – the largest stupa in Nepal

On our last full day in Kathmandu we went to the Indian Embassy to pay for and pick up our visas. On the walk back to Thamel we found a street vendor cooking chowmein for sixty rupees (seventy-five cents), it was the nicest noodles we had tasted during our whole trip.

Street-stall chowmein for sixty rupees, delicious

After this we headed to Bodhnath (or Boudha) to see the Bodhnath Stupa, one of the world’s largest. We took a tempo (shared rickshaw) from Thamel. The stupa looks like many we’d already seen, however it is its sheer size that makes it so remarkable.  It is said to have been built in the 7th century, during the time of Tibetan King Songsten Gampo and also contains a bone that belonged to the first Buddha himself (Siddharta). Around the base of the stupa are hundreds of prayer wheels, which we spun as we traversed in a clockwise direction.

Bodhnath Stupa, Nepals largest stupa
The Bodhnath Stupa surrounded by Buddhist prayer flags
The Bodhnath Stupa surrounded by Buddhist prayer flags
Monk sitting next to the stupa
Sonya turning an extremely large prayer wheel
Prayer flags running to the tip of Bodhnath Stupa
Travis and Sonya at the Bodhnath Stupa
Elephant statue figure in front of the Bodhnath Stupa
Sonya tying a white scarf to a smaller stupa in front of the Bodhnath Stupa

Patan, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Patan, or also known as Lalitpur, is the second largest town in Kathmandu Valley and also has a Durbar Square, full of temples and stupas. We did a day trip to Patan from Thamel and spent our time wandering around its Durbar Square and doing a walking tour of the old city. The walking tour gave us insight into the everyday lives of Patan residents, as it entwined us through courtyards, water tanks and wells.

One particular highlight was the Patan Museum which detailed the different Buddhist and Hindu gods and their characteristics. For example, Ganesh, the Hindu God of Prosperity (with the head of an elephant) is often depicted with his vehicle, a rat (or mouse) and because of his love of sweets, holds a ladoo ball (Indian sweet).

Patan Durbar SquareKrishna Mandir stone temple with shikhara-style spire, a Garuda kneels with folded arms on top of a column in frontOne of the pair of elephants at the front of the Vishwanath (Shiva) Temple
Sonya at the Vishwanath (Shiva) Temple with pair of elephants guarding the entranceIntricate stone carving of monkey figure on Vishwanath (Shiva) TempleTravis with the Vishwanath Temple stone carvings in the background
The man-bird Garuda kneels with folded arms on top of a column facing the Krishna Mandir TempleThe man-bird Garuda with the similar looking King Yoganarendra Malla statue in the backgroundJagannarayan (Char Narayan) Temple reputed to be the oldest temple in Durbar Square
Sunken Manga Hiti with carved stone makara (mythological crocodiles) head waterspoutsWindows of the Keshav Narayan Chowk (the former residence of the Malla kings)Mul Chowk with two stone lions guard the entrance to the courtyard
Travis inspecting the museum exhibit on the lost-wax (thajya) method of castingSunken Manga Hiti with three carved stone makara (mythological crocodiles) head waterspoutsJagannarayan (Char Narayan) Temple with two large stone lions
Courtyard to Royal Palace entered through a magnificent gilded door topped by a golden torana showing Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh and KumarStanding river goddesses Ganga on a tortoise statue at Mul ChowkMulti-armed carved wooden deity found on a temple
Degutalle Temple, with octagonal spireUnknown bust possibly related to restoration of Patan, Durbar SquareView of Durbar Square facing north
King Yoganarendra Malla sitting on lotus protected by the hood of a cobraView of Durbar Square facing north taken from a roof-top cafeSonya enjoying a cold drink and the view of Durbar Square
The transport of Ganesh, the rat, offering a ladoo ballStone temple in-between lush vegetationA pair of stone cobras carved on a temple
Small shrines and thunderbolt in an open courtyardTwo lions guarding the entrance to a large courtyard with stupas and shrinesOne of many small temple shrines in a courtyard
Metal snow lion at the entrance to a small Buddhist monasteryGold Buddha statue sitting in the courtyardThe metal ribbon on a temple from the roof to the ground helps the gods descend to earth
A stone statue heavily painted with orange, a main colour of Hindu religionSquare based triple story stone templeColourful string puppets for sale
Garuda of Narayan Mandir TempleStone lions guarding the entranceA small side alley leads to the Swotha Tole with stupa visible
Sonya spinning a prayer wheelStone lions guarding the entrance to the Golden TempleMonkeys holding out a jackfruit as an offering
Entrance to Golden Temple inner entrance is flanked by elephants with riderDeity stone shrineStupa in the courtyard of the Naga Bahal
Sonya with the Purnachandi Pond in the backgroundThe large stupa near Pim Bahal Pokhari pond at sunsetEntrance gate to historic Patan city

Patan Walking Tour

  1. Ganesh Shrine
  2. Sulima Square
  3. Pim Bahal Pokhari
  4. Chandeswari Temple
  5. Lokakirti Mahavihar
  6. Nyakachuka Courtyard
  7. Naga Bahal
  8. Golden Temple (Kwa Bahal)
  9. Manjushri Temple
  10. Megaliths
  11. Kumbeshwar Temple
  12. Uma Maheshwar Temple
  13. Rada Krishna Temple
  14. Krishna Mandir
  15. Narayan Mandir

Swayambhunath, Kathmandu, Nepal – Monkey Temple

A trip to the Buddhist temple, Swayambhunath, was on the agenda for day two. The temple is also known as the Monkey Temple and is located atop a hill west of Kathmandu. We took a stroll there early in the morning.  As soon as we reached the temples, we saw a monkey hanging off a Buddha statue. The climb up to the massive white stupa was tiring, but we were entertained by the monkeys and store vendors along the way.  Although strikes were still on, tickets were still required to be purchased. The top offered wonderful views of Kathmandu valley. The highlight is the stupa, surrounded by prayer wheels, a religious symbol which we requires to be walked around in a clockwise direction. Also atop the hill is a Hariti Temple, a gompa (monastery) plus small statues and stupas.

Smaller stupas at the base of the hill leading up to the temple
The east entrance gate at the base of the hill with stairs leading up to the temple
A monkey foraging at the base of a Buddha statue
A monkey mask painting on a stone leading to the temple
Buddha statues flanking the entrance to the Monkey Temple
The stairs leading to the large stupa visible at the top
The gold gilding of the stupa seen from the lower stairs
View of Kathmandu from the hill
At the base of the Swayambhunath stupa with the Buddhist Vajra thunderbolt visible
Monkey sitting on the Buddhist Vajra thunderbolt
Various monkey and other animal masks for sale
A monkey sitting on the tip of a temple roof with the main stupa visible in the background
A monkey jumping from a smaller red stupa
A monkey sitting at the base of a stupa watching below
A monkey eating a square of ice-cream with a Buddha statue visible in the background
Stone statue of Dipanker Buddha
Stone Buddhas with the large stupa visible in the background
Six metre high figure of Sakyamuni, the past Buddha
The prayer wheels and oil candles surrounding the large stupa
Travis feeding some eager monkeys bits of banana
Three sitting monkeys
Travis feeding a smaller monkey some banana
Look of disappointment, the banana is all gone
A standing Buddha statue at the base of the hill
A Buddhist monastery at the base of the hill

Kathmandu, Nepal – Durbar Square

Durbar means palace, and this area is very much the centre of the old city where the city’s royalty were crowned and celebrated. Along the way we had already enjoyed a vast array of Buddhist stupas, Hindu temples, shrines during our Lonely Planet walking tour (which, we noticed, so many other tourists were also doing) however were impressed by the number of temples clustered around Durbar Square. Highlights included;

Kasthamandap Temple – the oldest of the buildings in the square, building in the 12th century and which Kathmandu is named after.

Maju Devel – we joined many other Nepalese as we sat on the steps of this 17th century Shiva temple which overlooks the bustling area below.

Kumari Bahal – I was quite surprised to read that the Nepalese worship a real-life goddess – the Kumari Devi – and this is the house where she lives. The Kumari is basically a little girl, selected based on a rigid physical criteria and is tested to ensure she is able to select the correct items of her predecessor. She lives in the Kumari Bahal with her family, making occasional appearances, and is worshipped by the people. Once she reaches puberty she becomes mortal and another girl is selected. We somehow managed to visit on a day where she was making an appearance, a brief but fascinating appearance (particularly watching other people’s reactions upon seeing her). She was a normal childlike, young girl, with a face full of makeup.

Hanuman Dhoka palace – a massive palace complex guarded by an orange Hanuman statute out the front. Inside the palace are museums commemorating King Tribhuvan, King Mahendra and Birenda. Some extremely erotic carvings were evident in the courtyard of the Basantapur Tower.

DSLR camera, GPS, Lonely Planet, backpack, Travis' blending in wellWell known Ganesh shrine, the deity with an elephant headKasthamandap Temple at Durbar Square
Man making garlands of marigold flowers used by HindusTrailokya Mohan Narayan temple with Garuda kneeling before itMaru Ganesh Mandir
Shiva-Parvati Temple with stone snow lions guarding the entranceShiva-Parvati Temple with stone snow lions guarding the entranceShiva-Parvati Temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square
Bhagwati TempleTrailokya Mohan Narayan templeKumari Bahal (House of the Living Goddess) with intricate carved windows
Durbar Square KathmanduGoddess KaliTemple to Kam Dev, a companion of Shiva, with a tall corncob like spire
Hanuman statue cloaked in red and sheltered by an umbrellaTaleju Temple Hindu temple entranceSnow lions guarding the entrance to Taleju Temple
Stone inscription written in fifteen languages to the goddess KalikaA chaitya completely shattered by a bodhi treeHindu deity Shiva holding trident and transport of Nandi the bull
Taleju Temple Hindu temple viewed from the sideGaruda Statue seen outside Taleju TempleKala Bhairab at Durbar Square
View from the inner court of the Hanuman Dhoka (Royal Palace)View from the inner court of the Hanuman Dhoka (Royal Palace)Intricate wooden windows of the Hanuman Dhoka (Royal Palace)
Great Bell elevated atop a white building erected by Rana Bahadur ShahBustling freak street, named due to inhabitants in the sixtiesGarbage lit on fire, a commonality to dispose of waste


We had a delicious Thakali daal baaht for dinner in Thamel.

Daal bhaat, traditional Nepalese staple consisting of dal and rice