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Welcome Nepal > Tourist Destinations > Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu Valley comprises the three ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, which were once independent states ruled by the Malla kings from the 12th to the 18th centuries. The three cities house seven UNESCO World Heritage shrines which are together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture). The valley is also home to hundreds of other exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic temples and magnificent art – reminders of the golden era in Nepal’s architecture.

Legend has it that the valley was was once a primordial lake ringed by verdant mountains.  In this pristine lake lived giant serpents until one fine day, saint Manjushree, the Bodhisatva, raised a mighty sword and in one fell swoop, cut open the side of a mountain at a place now known as Chobar. The voluminous waters of the lake gushed out, leaving behind a fertile valley capable of supporting large urban settlements over the millennia. The Gopala and Kirati dynasties were the earliest rulers here followed by the Licchavi (300-879 A.D.), under whom flourished trade and crafts.

But the valley’s remarkable cities with their ornate palaces, the superbly crafted pagodas and the monumental stupas are testimony of the artistic genius of the Newar craftsmen, the original inhabitants of the valley, whose skills were championed by the Malla kings and appreciated even by the Mongol rulers of 18th century China.


Located at Chauni, at the foot of the Swayambhu hill, the building that houses the National Museum was once the residence of Nepal’s Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa who built the Dharahara. It has a fine collection of bronze images and paubha scroll paintings. It also has a splendid collection of firearms from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal as well as a sword gifted by Napoleon.


It is housed in the National Museum, has an exceptional collection of Nepali coins of the Lichhavi and Malla period (2nd to 18th century A.D.) as well as the Shah period.


It is housed on the first floor of the Tourist Service Center at Bhrikuti Mandap. It has dioramas depicting the lifestyles of 11 ethnic communities of Nepal.


There are three museums housed in the sprawling historical Hanuman Dhoka Palace at Kathmandu Durbar Square dedicated to three Shah kings Tribhuvan, Mahendra and Birendra. They showcase the lifestyle of the three generations of the Shah kings and include gifts, decorations, the clothes they wore and their hobbies. One of the highlights of visiting the old palace is the nine-storied durbar with its exquisitely carved giant windows that lean out of the building.


The museum in Patan Durbar Square specialises in bronze statues and religious objects. There are nearly 200 items on display. Some of the art dates from the 11th century. Most of the statues are of the Buddha, Vishnu, Lokeswar and Devi, covering both the Hindu and the Buddhist iconology.


The museum in Bhaktapur is housed in the old Malla Palace of 55 Windows in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The gallery has a rich collection of paubha scroll paintings, bronze, brass, stone and wooden images.


The museum in Dattatreya Square is in the restored 15th-century Pujari Math building. The Pujari Math is a museum in itself, with the very finest of Newar woodcarving including the famous Peacock Window. It has ancient and medieval paintings belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist schools.


It is in a 15th-century building opposite the Pujari Math at Tachapal Tol, Bhaktapur. A rich collection of domestic and ceremonial metalware is exhibited in the museum.

One can directly fly into the Tribhuvan International Airport in the Kathmandu Valley. One can ride buses or drive to Kathmandu from border towns and other parts of the country. There are five-star hotels, resorts to moderate accommodations with modern amenities available in and around Kathmandu Valley.