The Kathmandu Valley is considered to be the intersection of the most important Asian civilizations. The peaceful coexistence of Buddhism and Hinduism is evident in the immediate vicinity of Hindu temples and Buddhist monastery and stupa buildings. Important cities include Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. In the course of a severe earthquake in April 2015, numerous World Heritage sites, particularly in Kathmandu, were completely or partially destroyed.
Kathmandu Valley: Facts
|Official title:||Kathmandu Valley|
|Cultural monument:||Kathmandu et al. with the Taleju and Mahendreshvara temples (6th century), the pagoda for the bloodthirsty goddess Taleju Bhavani, symbol of the Malla dynasty, the royal residence of Hanuman Dhoka and the Kashthamandapa hall; Swayambhunath with a 360-step pilgrim staircase, which a.o. lined with lions, the mounts of the transcendent Buddhas, and the 15 m high stupa with an umbrella-like top; Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river with a gold-covered pagoda; Bodnath, center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal; the former city-kingdom of Bhaktapur and the former city-kingdom of Patan|
|Location:||Kathmandu, Swayambhunath (west of Kathmandu), Lalitpur / Patan (south), Bhaktapur, Pashupatinath, Changu Narayan (east)|
|Meaning:||The intersection of the most important Asian civilizations and the peaceful coexistence of Buddhism and Hinduism|
Kathmandu Valley: History
|464||as the oldest written document in the Kathmandu valley, inscription of King Manadeva (464-505) in Changu Narayan|
|around 990-998||under King Gunakamadeva founding of Kathmandu|
|1200-16||Beginning of the Malla dynasty in the Kathmandu valley|
|1372||Restoration of the Swayambhunath stupa|
|1382-95||King Jayasthiti Malla|
|1428-82||King Yaksha Malla|
|1482||Division of the Kathmandu valley into three Malla kingdoms|
|1768||Kathmandu under Prithvi Narayan Shah as the capital of Nepal|
|1846||Beginning of the Rana rule|
|1956||first road into Kathmandu valley completed|
|2015||extensive destruction of the world heritage sites in the wake of a severe earthquake in April 2015|
Golden temple roofs in front of glowing glacier mountains
The legend of the Bodhisattva Manjushri, who brought the water of a former lake to drain with a sword cut into the southern mountains of the Kathmandu valley, is lost in the distant past. Today’s picture of the countless pagodas, the multi-roofed, tower-like temples for the worship of Hindu deities, and the bell-shaped stupas, which in Buddhism are a symbol of the Buddha’s entering into nirvana, looks like a living open-air museum that is about modern civilization with exhaust fumes, noise, unchecked building frenzy and garbage as if overgrown by a cancerous tumor. Nevertheless, a visit to the Kathmandu Valley still means immersing yourself in the Asian Middle Ages, and every newcomer lets himself be captured by the splendor of the Nepalese urban settlements.
The current appearance of the towns and villages in the valley was mainly shaped in the 17th and 18th centuries by art-loving Malla rulers. Two high religions that exist peacefully side by side – Hinduism and Buddhism – are at home in numerous temples: Hindu gods are mainly worshiped in pagodas and Indian-influenced stone temples. The worship of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas – according to the view of Mahayana Buddhism and mediator of salvation, which is prevalent in Nepal and East Asia – are served by the large and small stupas and the monastery complexes, which are mostly built with floors closed to the inner courtyard. In addition, there is an abundance of Buddhas and demonic protective deities, as well as statues of Hindu gods such as Vishnu of Budhanilkantha, scattered all over the valley. When one has climbed the countless steep stone steps to the sparsely forested hill of Swayambhunath, one stands breathing heavily in front of the 15 meter high large stupa, from which the Buddha’s eyes look in all directions. While rhesus monkeys chase each other around the temple buildings and steal the edible offerings, the view can wander over to the snow-white peaks of the Langtang mountain range, and from the sea of houses visible in Kathmandu, the Taleju Pagoda, which belongs to the old royal palace, rises up on an artificial hill The patron deity of the Kathmandu valley serves as a place of residence. If you fly over the Kathmandu valley in a small plane, you will recognize the palace square of the old royal city of Patan, where a colorful vegetable and fruit market may just be held. From the center of the royal city of Bhaktapur, The five-tiered Nyatapola Pagoda sticks to the sky like a forefinger, whose medieval face has been preserved in the purest possible way up to our day. In the north-eastern valley plain lies the large stupa of Bodnath, standing on a high, terraced plinth, on the surrounding frieze of which the figure of the transcendent Buddha Amitabha has been photographed eighty times.
On the edge of the Bagmati River is the Hindu sanctuary of Pashupatinath, one of the holiest places in Hinduism, to which pilgrims from far south India also flock to worship Lord Shiva, the creator and destroyer, or to embark on a journey into the afterlife. On the banks of the river are the cremation sites for the dead, whose ashes – regardless of their worldly status – are given over to the holy river.
Changu Narayan, this temple grove consecrated to the Hindu god Vishnu, the preserver of life and the universe, is bathed in calm in the early morning, which allows the central temple to be viewed closely and undisturbed. When you then stand in front of the dwarfish figure of Vishnu, who crossed the earth with two giant steps and with the third step carried the evil demon king into the abyss, you immerse yourself in the calm, meditative atmosphere that this holy place exudes.