Kathmandus World Heritage Sites is the rightful cultural capital of the country with seven of the ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites falling in the valley. Read on to find out what makes these sites so special.
Of all the words that have been used to describe Kathmandu, the word ‘boring’ will never make it to the list. The place is just so happening. Politically, as the country goes through the most volatile time in its history, Kath- mandu looks on, witness to the change. Like all great cities around the world, Kathmandu also grows and changes and moves slowly away from what it used to be. A concrete invasion is all too obvious in the ‘town of temples’. The melting pot of all significant cultures in Nepal, Kathmandu Valley went through many ruling dynasties and the whims and fancies of its many kings. As a result of this, today, some innumerable monuments and temples stand as a testament to those days’ rich art and architectural scene. Some of these have been preserved well, while others have fared poorly with time. Tourism wise, Kathmandu sees increasing numbers of visitors each year. Most come for the fantastic trekking trips that Nepal offers. Others don’t even travel outside Kathman- du, revelling in the city’s sights and sounds. Kathmandu ends up as a rather unfair representation of the entire country for a lot of these tourists. But while the city’s crammed hoarding boards and unbelievable traffic jams hardly showcase Nepal in the best light, there are several reasons people fall in love with Kathmandu.
According to mythology, Kathmandu Valley was said to have been a vast lake that was drained by Bodhisatva Manjushri. The land was very fertile, and people moved here for its cultivable land. Nepal was then divided into many small countries which were ruled by separate kings. Kathmandu was ruled over time by a string of small and large dynasties, all of which seemed to have one thing in common – their passion for art and architecture and a religious bent. Perhaps with the need to satiate their burgeoning egos, these rulers tried outdoing their predecessors with the many temples and monuments that we see spread out over Kathmandu Valley. With the annexation of the smaller countries into one Nepal, Kathmandu was chosen as the country’s capital and was divided into three cities – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur.
Religious monuments such as the Swoy-ambhunath stupa or the Pashupatinath temple represent an essential pillar of Nepali society – religion. Others, such as the three Durbar Squares of the valley’s three cities and their awe-inspiring design and sheer beauty, are testament to Kathmandu’s cultural capital. The fantastic architecture combined with their rich history makes them unique features worth the adulation they get from art, history, and architecture enthusiasts. But we took it all for granted and let time and nature do their worst to many of these essential structures.
UNESCO’s announcement of Kathmandu as a collective World Heritage Site with seven noted sub-sites has played a huge role in preserving and promoting these places. The country joined UNES- CO on May 1, 1953.
For a small city like Kathmandu to have seven heritage sites is quite a boon. It gives Kathmandu a very unique advantage over other cities in the region. Moreover, the listing itself adds a new dimension to the number of tourists interested in visiting the country.
Sadly, due to negligence on those concerned to keep up with UNSECO standards of preservation, Nepal was taken off the UNSESCO heritage site list once. Now that it’s listed again with many other new spots in and outside the valley en route to making it to the list, the tourism industry should make hay while the sun shines. Travel Times takes a look at these seven marvels of the valley and tries to understand what qualifies them to be called World Heritage Sites. The Kathmandu Valley, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979, is the object of a vast safeguarding endeavour. At the crossroads of the great civilizations of Asia, the site harbours some 130 Hindu and Buddhist monuments exemplifying Nepalese art at its peak.
We will be featuring 8 UNESCO Sites, so be sure to come back for more.