Around Chapagaon Lele Valley

The peaceful, beautiful Lele Valley seems a million miles from the bustle of Kathmandu and is in many ways untouched by the 21st (or 20th) century. You won't find many other tourists here. Apart from touring the lovely scenery, the main thing to head for is the Tika Bhairab, a large multicoloured painting at the confluence of two rivers, about 4km south of Chapagaon. Malla Alpine Resort (H 01-4410320 s d USS61 72, discount 30 ), signposted at Kalitar, 3km beyond the Tika Bhairab up a dirt road,...

Newari Towns

The Newars have over the centuries created an urban culture unequalled in the Himalaya. The cities and towns of the Kathmandu Valley are a compact network of interlocking squares, courtyards, twisting alleyways, ponds and temples, often centred on a main square. Though modern building methods have affected aesthetics and village structure, much of the traditional structure remains. Decorated with carved windows and doorways, statues and shrines, and filled with locals drying grain, fetching...

Metalwork Woodwork

Patan is the centre for bronze casting and other metalwork. The statues you see on sale in Kathmandu were probably made in Patan and there are a number of excellent metalwork shops just to the north of Durbar Sq. Good-quality gold-plated and painted bronze figures will cost Rs 2000 to 5000 for smaller ones, and up to more than Rs 10,000 for large images. Woodcarving Studio ( 5538827 www.leebirch .com Jawlakhel S 10am-5pm Sun-Fri) Artist Lee Birch's studio displays some of the best carv ings in...

Kirtipur To Chobar Walk

Instead of simply returning from Kirtipur to Kathmandu the same way, you can continue by foot or bike from Kirtipur to Chobar and the Chobar Gorge. The route is rideable, but is also an interesting walk. From the Chilanchu Vihara at the southeastern end of Kirtipur, head south downhill past a brick base (built as the foundations of a stupa) to the main road around the base of the village. Take a left and then a right after 100m and then, after another 100m, take the dirt road that branches off...

Gokarnakopanbodhnath Walk

There's a pleasant walking or biking route between Gokarna and Bodhnath via the monastery at Kopan. The obvious trail starts from just opposite the Gokarna Mahadev temple, to the right of a roadside statue, and quickly branches left at the Sahayogi Higher Secondary School. After five minutes, branch right onto a dirt road as it follows the side of a pine-clad hill. You can see the yellow walls of Kopan Monastery ahead atop a hill and the Bodhnath stupa down below in the valley. After another...

Budhanilkantha

Vishnu has many incarnations and in Nepal he often appears as Narayan, the creator of all life, the god who reclines on the cosmic sea. From his navel grew a lotus and from the lotus came Brahma, who in turn created the world. Ultimately everything comes from Vishnu, and at Budhanilkantha (admission free S dawn to dusk) the legend is set in stone. The 5m-long image of Vishnu as Narayan was created in the 7th or 8th century from one monolithic piece of stone and is the most impressive, if not...

The Route

Walk through Pathan Dhoka to the nearby Ganesh shrine (A) and its popular water well, then turn right into Sulima Sq (B), with its central 17th-century Shiva shrine. On the east side of the square is the semi-destroyed house of a famous 16th-century Tantric master on the south side is a shrine with a fine wooden balustrade. Continue south to the Pim Bahal Pokhari (C) pond and go round it anticlockwise, past the Chandeswari Temple (D 1663) to a large 600-year old whitewashed stupa that was...

EATING

Bhaktapur is certainly no competition for Kathmandu when it comes to restaurants, but don't worry, you won't starve. Don't forget to try Bhaktapur's famous speciality juju dhau, 'the king of curds' yogurt while you are here. You can find it in tourist restaurants, but there are also several holes-in-the-wall between Durbar Sq and Navpokhu Pokhari look for the pictures of curd outside , where you can get a small cup for Rs 7 or a giant family-sized bowl for Rs 60. Caf Hyatapola Map p198 6610346...

Uku Bahal Rudra Varna Mahavihar

This Buddhist monastery Map pi 84 near the Mahabouddha Temple is one of the best known in Patan. The main courtyard is absolutely packed with interesting bits and pieces - dorjes, bells, peacocks, elephants, Garudas, rampant goats, kneeling devotees and a regal-looking statue of a Rana general. The lions are curious, seated on pillars with one paw raised in salute, look as if they should be guarding a statue of Queen Victoria in her 'not-amused' incarnation rather than a colourful Nepali...

Ugrachandi Bhairab Statues

When you enter Durbar Sq from the west you'll pass by an entry gate to a school with two large stone lions built by King Bhupa-tindra Malla. On the northern wall to the left are statues of the terrible Bhairab right and the equally terrible Ugrachandi, or Durga left , the fearsome manifestation of Shiva's consort Parvati. The statues date from 1701 and it's said that the unfortunate sculptor had his hands cut off afterwards, to prevent him from duplicating his masterpieces. Ugrachandi has 18...

Ichangu Narayan

At the edge of the valley floor, about 3km northwest of Swayambhunath, the shrine of Ichangu Narayan admission free S dawn-dusk -not to be confused with Changu Narayan east of Kathmandu - is one of the Valley's important Vishnu shrines. This two-storey, 18th-century temple is fronted by two square stone pillars bearing Vishnu's symbols, a sankha conch and a chakra disc , atop a tortoise. The site was consecrated in 1200 and an earlier temple was built here after a famine in 1512. The walk here...

Durbar Square Patan

Pictures Garuda And Hanuman

Bhal Dega Temple Bhlmsen Temple Bldya Temple Degutalle Temple Ganesh Statue Ganesh Temple Ganga Statue Garuda Statue on Column Golden G te Sun Dhoka Hanuman Statue Harl Shankar Temple Jagannarayan Temple Jamuna Statue Klng Yoganarendra Malla' Statue Krishna Mandlr Krishna Temple Chyaslm Manga HitJ Manl Mandap Narslngha Statue Narslngha Temple Patan Mus um Taleju Bell Taleju Temple Tusha Maheshwar Temple V'i .l il h Temples Vlshwanath Templ its strong Mughal influences, this stone temple is...

South of Tachupal Tole

From Tachupal Tole turn left down the side of the Pujari Math directions to its famous peacock window are well signposted. At a square jog right by a small deity , left, right at a second small square and left again at the main square. Then immediately on your left is the unassuming gateway to the ornate little Inacho Bahal L - signposted the 'Sri Indra-varta Mahavihar' - with prayer wheels, figures of the Buddha and a lopsided miniature pagoda roof rising up above the courtyard. From here the...

Sleeping

There are a number of excellent guesthouses in the tangle of lanes north and east of the stupa, which offer an interesting and infinitely peaceful alternative to basing yourself in Kathmandu. Prices are marginally higher than in Thamel. Lotus Guest House 4472320 s d without bathroom Rs 250 350, with bathroom Rs 290 390, deluxe r Rs 490-750 The next-door Tabsang Gompa runs this very pleasant two-storey option. Rooms are spotlessly clean and spacious, and there is a large garden and sitting area....

Around Godavari Bishankhu Narayan

If you're looking for an excuse to get off the beaten track, the shrine of Bishankhu Narayan may do nicely. There's not much to see, despite the fact that it is one of the most important Vishnu shrines in the Kathmandu Valley, though the site has a timeless, almost animistic feel. A steep stairway leads up to the chain mail-covered shrine and then down into a narrow fissure in the rock, where pilgrims test their sin levels and need for an immediate crash diet by trying to squeeze through the...

Sekh Narayan Temple

The Sekh or Shesh Narayan Temple is the centrepiece of an interesting collection of temples, crystal-clear pools and sculpture. The main temple is above the pools, under a multi-hued, overhanging cliff and next to a Tibetan monastery. The main temple, one of the most important Vishnu temples in the valley, was built in the 17th century, but it is believed that the cave to the right now dedicated to Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche has been a place of pilgrimage for much longer. To the right of...

Patan Museum

The section of the palace around Keshav Narayan Chowk the former residence of the Malla kings has been superbly renovated and houses one of the subcontinent's finest museums Map p187 5521492 www.patan museum.gov.np admission foreigner SAARC Rs 250 50 S 10.30am-5.30pm . There have been some modern elements added to the building as part of the renovations, and the result is a beautiful synthesis of old and new. The main feature of the museum is an outstanding collection of cast-bronze and...

Swayambhunath

The great Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath admission Rs 75 , on the top of a hill west of Kathmandu, is one of the most popular and instantly recognisable symbols of Nepal. The temple is known affectionately as the 'Monkey Temple', after the large troop of handsome monkeys that guards the hill and amuses visitors and devotees with tricks including sliding gracefully down the banisters of the main stairway to the temple . Legends relate that the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake geologists agree...

Taumadhi Tole to Tachupal Tole

The curving main road through Bhaktapur runs from beside the Bhairabnath Temple in Taumadhi Tole to Tachupal Tole, the old centre of town. The first stretch of the street is a busy shopping thoroughfare selling everything from porters' tumplines the leather or cloth strips across the forehead or chest used to support a load carried on the back to Hindi movie DVDs. At the first bend there are two interesting old buildings on the right-hand southern side. The Sukul Dhoka Map pp204-5 is a math...