Tribhuvan International Airport serves Kathmandu, the capital and largest city of Nepal. Located less than 10 kilometres from the city, it is the only international airport in Nepal (as of July 2014) and sports 2 terminals, one for domestic flights and the other for international. International connections from Tribhuvan Airport include regional destinations such as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, along with some Middle Eastern destinations like Muscat and Doha. Located very near to the Himalayas, Kathmandu’s airport is considered a gateway to the great mountain range (which includes the famous Mount Everest, tallest peak in the world) for climbers.
To get from Tribhuvan International to the city, the easiest way would be to take a taxi direct from the airport to your location. Fares are relatively inexpensive and taxis plentiful. If not, pre-booking a hotel transfer is also advisable.
Once in Kathmandu, the best way of getting around the city is on foot. The city is not very large, and most major attractions are within walking distance from the city centre. Alternatively, you can rent a motorcycle rather cheaply for greater ease of movement and flexibility. With the dense traffic within the city, renting a car is not encouraged as traffic congestions are common and parking spaces difficult to find. If you’d prefer not to drive or ride on your own, taxis are relatively easy to flag and fares inexpensive. Buses and trams are also available around the city, but these can get very crowded so be sure to plan your travelling at non-peak hours.
What to see and do
One of the many must-sees in Kathmandu is the Pasupatinath, considered one of the holiest of Hindu temples in the world. Two-tiered, gold in colour and sporting 4 silver doorways, it is a magnificent example of Nepalese temple architecture on top of being one of the most sacred sites for Hindus around the world. Covering an area of more than 280 hectares, the Pasupatinath is also one of the largest Hindu temples in South Asia and contains hundreds of Shiva lingams and shrine icons of various deities. Due to its strong historical and religious significance, the temple courtyard is off-limits to non-Hindus but fret not – tourists are encouraged to view the beautiful Pasupatinath from the other side of the Bagmati river, the banks on which the temple is built. If you are there in the middle of spring, don’t miss the Shivaratri festival – meaning the Holy Night of Lord Shiva – held in the temple, which involves the making of a ceremonial fire by devotees who come to pray. With thousands of pilgrims making their way down even from outside Nepal, the Shivaratri is considered a very important event on the Hindu calendar and a chance to witness it should not be passed up.
Next, feast your eyes upon the incredible Swoyambhu Nath Stupa, an architectural wonder built sometime around 250 B.C. Considered a holy memorial, the Stupa stands on a stylised lotus mandala base and consists of a stunning white dome with the jewel of Nirvana and a thirteen-tiered golden spire mounted on top of it, with a pair of all-seeing eyes (supposedly belonging to the Buddha) painted on all four of its sides. Legend has it that the Kathmandu Valley in which the Swoyambhu Nath Stupa sits was once a lake from which a hill spontaneously arose, thereby giving rise to its name swayambhu, meaning ‘self-arisen’. On top of being a site of great religious significance to Buddhists around the world, the Swoyambhu Nath is also the largest stupa complex built in Nepal, and inspired a whole host of other temples and shrines to be built around it, making it a place of great architectural, historical and cultural importance to Nepal in general.
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