Culture





The culture of Nepal is a assemblage of music, architecture, religion and literature. This mountain kingdom is multi-ethic and multi-lingual. The land is rich with unique cultural groups like Tharu,Yadav, Ahir, Newars and others.
Nepal has several ancient pilgrimage sites. Each temple is attached to a legend or belief that glorifies the miraculous powers of its deity. Kathmandu Valley is home to the famous Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhu Stupa and several other famous temples. Hundreds of famous temples are located in and around the Kathmandu Valley. 
Some well-known pilgramage sites are: Barah Chhetra, Halesi Mahadev, Janakpur, Pathibhara, Tengboche in East Nepal; Manakaman, Gorkha, Lumbini, Muktinath, Gosainkunda, Tansen, Kathmandu Valley in Central Nepal; and Swargadwari, Khaptad Ashram in West Nepal.
Nepal is also the Gateway to Kailash Mansarovar, the mythical abode of Lord Shiva. Devotees from various parts of Nepal and India throng the temples during special festivals. Even though weak infrastructure renders some places hard to reach, efforts are being made on national level to develop and promote some popular sites.


Pilgrimage sites of Nepal like Muktinath and Gosainkunda make popular trekking destinations. Tours to these sites are encouraged for the novelty they provide in terms of nature and culture.


Culture is embedded in the high peaks of Nepal, tradition flows with its rivers, art traverses through its valleys and religion lies in the heart of its people. Nepal, in short, is a country where art, culture and religion are a part of life of the inhabitants. People celebrate every moment with aroma, adding novelty to the traditions without affecting their essence.


Nepal is blessed with one of the richest cultures in the world. Culture has been called 'the way of life for an entire society'. The statement holds particularly true in case of Nepal where every aspect of life, food, clothing and even occupations are culturally guided. The culture of Nepal includes the codes of manners, dress, language, rituals, norms of behavior and systems of belief.



Cultural Sites 
Astonishing enough, seven out of the ten world heritage sites in Nepal are termed cultural by UNESCO. Thus, the stupas, monasteries, temples and architecture are all representatives of the rich cultural heritage of Nepal. The following are the cultural world heritage sites of Nepal.


» Kathmandu Durbar Square
» Patan Durbar Square 
» Bhaktapur Durbar Square 
» Changu Narayan Temple 
» Swayambhunath Stupa 
» Pashupatinath Temple 
» Lumbini
» Bouddhanath Stupa


Apart form the world heritage sites there are other pilgrimage sites in Nepal that hold great cultural importance. A tour to these places will make you familiar with the rich Nepal culture.


» Barah Chhetra, Halesi Mahadev, Janakpur, Pathibhara, Tengboche in East Nepal
» Manakaman, Gorkha, Lumbini, Muktinath, Gosainkunda, Tansen, Kathmandu Valley in Central Nepal
» Swargadwari, Khaptad Ashram in West Nepal are famous pilgrimage sites in Nepal.




Kathmandu Durbar Square
Listed as one of the eight Cultural World Heritage site by UNESCO, Kathmandu Durbar Square is a cluster of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards and streets that date back to the 12th and 18th centuries. The square is known to be the social, religious and urban focal point of the Capital City.

The Palace Complex was the royal Nepalese residence until the 19th century and is the site of important ceremonies, such as the coronation of the Nepalese monarch. The palace is decorated with elaborately-carved wooden windows and panels an. It houses the King Tribhuwan Memorial Museum and the Mahendra Museum.



Fast Facts 
LocationKathmandu
SignificanceUNESCO World Heritage Site
UNESCO CategoryCultural
Built In16th and 17th centuries
Major AttractionsTaleju Temple and Hanuman Dhoka

Major Attractions Of Kathmandu Durbar Square



Taleju Temple
The temple is a famous Hindu and Jain religious site. The three-tiered temple is the first to be erected with more than two roofs and raised on a tall stepped platform. It is said that the mandir was built in the shape of a yantra on the advice of the Taleju Goddess herself and that she appeared to the King at the dedication ceremony disguised as a bee.

Mahendreshvara Temple
The simple yet beautiful temple was built by King Mahendra Malla and is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva in the form of Pashupati. The temple was destroyed in a 1934 earthquake and rebuilt thereafter. The temple is a memorial to its founder.

Jagannath Temple 
The Jagannath Temple is recognized as the finest of the group near Hanuman Dhoka. Exquisite wood-carvings embellish the doors, windows and roof struts, depicting a panoply of gods from the Hindu pantheon. Originally dedicated to Vishnu the shrine was later re-dedicated to Jagannath.

Dequtale Temple 
The temple was built by Shivasimha Malla honoring the Mallas' family deity, Degutale. It resembles Taleju's shrine but with a tower-like base in place of the stepped platform. The worship of Degutale has its origins in a nature cult, the images being pieces of rock which the Newaris set up and worshipped.

Hanuman Dhoka 
Palace facade turns at right angles between the Degutale Temple and the Taleju Mandir. This way is created Hanuman Dhoka (Hanuman is a monkey god). Hanuman idol placed in the dhoka has been anointed with mustard oil and vermilion through the centuries. 

Nasal Chowk
Nasal Chowk takes its name from the little statue of the dancing Krishna in the shrine on the east side of the court. In Malla times the podium in the center of the court was used for dancing displays. The Shah kings chose to be crowned in Nasal Chowk, a tradition which continues today.

Mul Chowk
As the occasional abode of the goddess Taleju, the court is barred to visitors, though it is often possible to peep in through the gate and have a look at the exquisite beauty of the palace. The Chowk is opened to Hindus once a year when, on the ninth day of the Dasain Festival, hundreds of buffaloes and goats are sacrificed to the goddess.
Bhandarkal
Bhandarkal is a botanical garden created by King Pratap Mall in the mid 17th century. With its diverse flora, Bhandarkal is a treat for nature lovers and ecologists. The garden has been named after a seven-storied palace that possesses a statue of the Sleeping Vishnu, Jalashayana Narayan.

Vilar Temple
Between the Lalitpur and Basantpur Towers can be seen the magnificently carved fa├žade of the three-storied Vilas Mandir, of a richness truly befitting a Temple of Luxury.

Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple
The three storied temple has the figure of Garuda placed in its front and incarnations of Lord Vishnu within the temple. It was built by Prithvi Bendra Malla in 1680. 

Shiva Temple
The Shiva Temple in Darbar Square is a replica of the Jaisi Deval and was built by Riddhi Lakshmi in 1690.


Shiv Parvati Temple
The long low building on the northern side of Durbar Square contains the beautiful shrines of Shiva and Parvati. This somewhat unusual building is believed to date from the time of Bahadur Shah. It is probably a reconstruction, the stepped platform on which it stands being considerably older than the temple itself. 


Manju Deval 
Dedicated to Shiva the large three-storied Manju Deval on its unusually high stepped base seems to dominate Durbar Square. It was built in 1692 by the mother of Bhupatindra Malla of Bhaktapur. Inside the temple there is a Shiva lingam. The small shikhara (temple tower in the North Indian style) at the foot of the steps honors Kam Dev, Shiva's shakti.

Kumari Bahal
The house of the Living Goddess, the Kumari Bahal looks like the monastery that was constructed in 1757 by Jaya Prakash Malla. Inside it lives the young girl who is selected to be the town's living goddess, until she reaches her first puberty and reverts to being a normal mortal. 

Kasthamandapa
Kasthamandap or house of wood is the building which gave Kathmandu its name. Legend narrates that the whole building is constructed from a Single Sal tree. At first it was a community hall where local people gathered for important ceremonies but later it was converted to a Temple of Gorakhnath. The image of Gorakhnath glitters at the center of the building.

Ashok Binayak Shrine
The Ashok Binayak Shrine is the principle shrine of Lord Ganesha in the Kathmandu Valley. The stone image of Lord Ganesha stands beneath a golden replica of the Ashok tree which once shaded the shrine and eventually gave it its name.


Simha Sattal
Simla Sattal is located at the southern end of the Kathmandu Durbar Square. The residential style temple contains the Garuda Narayan figure, strange looking effigies and a little shrine of Harikrishna.



Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square complex, situated in the center of Patan city, also known as Lalitpur, houses the residence of the former Patan royal family. Patan Square and its surroundings are good specimen of ancient Newari architecture. There are three main courtyards in the palace: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk, the oldest one, is at the centre of Patan square.

Several multi-sized and multi-styled temples occupy the western part of the complex. Main among these are Krishna Temple, Bhimsen Temple and the Golden Temple of Hiranya Varna. 



Fast Facts

LocationKathmandu Valley
ImportanceUNESCO world heritage site
UNESCO Categorycultural
Major Attractions» Krishna temple with 21 golden pinnacles
» Tusahity royal bath

Major Attractions Of Patan Durbar Square

Mul Chowk
This is the most famous and one of the largest courtyards among three main chowks. Bidya Temple is located at the center of the courtyard and the Taleju temples stand around the courtyard.

Sundari Chowk
Sundari Chowk is to the south of the Mul Chowk with its sunken tank known as Tusha Hiti Mul Chowk & Taleju Temple. 

Keshav Narayan Chowk
Keshav Narayan Chowk is towards the northern part. Dominating Degutale temple is next to it. It is the site of the earliest Malla palace in Patan. The Chowk sits on the older foundations of a Buddhist monastery.

Krishna Temple
This temple of red stone, dedicated to Hindu Lord Krishna was erected in the 17th century. The temple is considered to be the first one to be constructed in Shikara architecture. Thanks to this attribute, it holds a commanding position in the durbar square. The elegant shikhara-style temple is ranked as one of the gems of Durbar Square. The temple is compared with sacred Mount Meru, which is abode of the god Shiva according to Hindu scriptures. 

Mahaboudha
Buddhist temple Mahaboudha, which is made of clay bricks, lies to the east of the Durbar Square. Hundereds of Buddha images are engraved in the bricks. The temple is known for its fine terra cota work. 

Kumbheshwor
The five-storied pagoda-style Lord Siva temple was constructed by King Jayasthiti Malla. Inside the temple is a natural spring whose source, is said to be the famous glacial lake of Gosainkunda. The golden work was added later in 1422 A.D. One the festival of Janai Purnima, ritual bathing takes place and a fair is also held.

Jagat narayan Temple 
Jagatnarayan temple is a tall shikhara style temple devoted to Lord Vishnu. Red bricks are used for the construction of the temple. The temple also holds a fine metal statue of Garuda, Ganesh and Hanuman, all related to Hindu religion and mythology.

Rudra Varna Mahavihar 
This Buddhist monastery holds amazing collection of images and idols in metal, stone and wood. Legend holds that the Kings in the ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by the people can be seen here even today.

The Ashokan Stupas
Indian Emperor Ashoka visited Nepal in 250 B.C and constructed four ancient stupas at the four corners of Patan. The four stupas are located in Pulchowk, Lagankhel, Ebahi and in Teta (way to Sano Gaon) respectively.




Bhaktpur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an assortment of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five-window palace of brick and wood. The square is part of a charming valley as it highlights the idols of ancient kings perched on top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in very place - struts, lintels, tympanums, gateways and windows - all seem to form a well orchestrated symphony.








Fast Facts 

LocationKathmandu Valley
SignificanceUNESCO world Heritage Site
UNESCO CategoryCultural
UNESCO Listed1979
Major AttractionsThe Golden Gate

Major Attractions Of Bhaktpur Durbar Square


The Lion Gate 
The massive gate that dates back to 1696 AD is guarded by two huge statues of lions at the either sides. The dreadful stone image of Lord Shiva and the fearful image of Ugrachandi attract the tourists from far off.

The Golden Gate (Sun Dhoka)
The Golden gate is said to be the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen of its kind in the entire world. The door is a embellished with monsters and mythical creatures of marvellous intricacy. The Golden Gate was erected by King Ranjit Malla and is the entrance to the main courtyard of the Palace of fifty-five windows.

The Palace of Fifty Five Windows
Keshav Narayan Chowk is the Northern-most part of the Patan Darbar palace complex, with the dominating Degutale temple next to it. This magnificent palace was built during the reign of King Yakshay Malla in AD 1427 and was subsequently remodeled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony with fifty-five Windows, considered a unique masterpiece of woodcarving.

The Art Gallery
The Art Gallery contains ancient paintings belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of various periods and descriptions. The gallery is particularly famous among researchers on Hinduism and Buddhism.

The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla
This statue depicts King Bhupendra Malla in the act of worship and is located on a column facing the palace. This is considered the most magnificent statue among the many statues in the squares.

Nyatapola
This is the most famous pagoda of Nepal, which was built in 1702 A.D by Bhupatendra Mala. This temple was dedicated to Siddhilaxmi, the tantric mother goddess of supreme power. Nyatapola in Newari means a five tiered symbolizing five basic elements - water, earth, fire, wind and sky.

Pashupati Temple
According to a folklore, a Bhaktapur native who was a great devotee of Lord Pashupati, had a dream in which lord Shiva told him to build a temple for him so that he could move into it. He obeyed this command and thus the temple came into existence.

Vatsala Temple 
This 17th century stone temple, dedicated to a mother goddess, is full of intricate works on stone.





Changu Narayan Temple



Changu Narayan Temple, the oldest temple in Kathmandu valley came in existence in 4th century. The temple is adorned by some of the best specimen of stone, wood, and metal craft in the valley. The temple stands as the epitome of culture, religion, history and faith of the Kathmandu valley.
















Fast Facts

Location22 km from Kathmandu
ImportanceOldest temple in Kathmandu valley
Built in4th century A.D.
Devoted toHindu Lord Shiva
Major AttractionVishnu image with ten heads and ten arms

Historical Importance 

  • It is the oldest temple in Kathmandu valley.
  • A Vishnu idol with ten heads and ten arms is a fine example of stone carving from the 5th century.
  • The temple is of great importance due to its idols and shrines having rich architectural beauty.
Major Attractions Of Changu Narayan Temple

  • Garuda Narayana Temple
  • Shrine of King Bhupalendra Malla and his mother
  • Krishna Shrine
  • Nateshvara Shrine
  • Sculpture of Sri Mahadev
  • Sculpture of Garuda
  • Shrine of Somalingeshvara
  • Sculptures: Vishnu, Durga Avalokitesvara and Garuda Ganesh
  • Ganesh Shrine
  • Bhagvati Temple
  • Vishnu Vikranta
  • Vishnu Vishvarupa
  • Lakshmi Temple Shiva Temple
  • Stone Column 
Garuda Idol
Inside the Changunarayan temple is a esteemed figure of Garuda. The statue is offered sweets by the devotees every year on Nag Panchami. This is done in remembrance of the epic struggle with the great snake Taksaka. The drops of moisture, believed to be effective against diseases such as leprosy and ulcers, are collected by the priests.

King Bhupendra Malla Statues
Statues of King Bhupalendra Malla of Kathmandu and his mother can also be seen in a shrine. Bloody fighting characterised their politics during the 17th century but both were generous when it came to revering the gods.

Vishnu Sculpture
To the north of the temple is a sculpture of Lord Vishnu seated on Garuda (Garudasana Vishnu). This image appears on the Nepalese 10 rupee note. Vishnu sculpture dates back to 9th century.
 
Vishwaroop
Vishwaroop sculpture, dating back to 8th century A.D., presents Lord Vishnu in his universal form. 

Vishnu Vikrant
The stone idol, harking back to the 8th century A.D, is of the most powerful form of Lord Vishnu. It is related to the Hindu legend of Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu, who measured space with feet.

Vishnu Riding Garuda 
This figure of Vishnu mounting Garuda, the mythical bird, dates back to the 10th century A.D.

Narsimhha Vishnu
This form of Lord Vishnu, the Narsimha, is in half human and half lion form.





Swayambhunath Stupa
The Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath, situated on the top of a hill, west of Kathmandu, is one of the most popular, holy and instantly recognizable symbols of Nepal. The temple is colloquially known as the 'monkey temple' because of the large tribe of roving monkeys who guard the temple. The primary approach to the temple is from the eastern side, where 365 ancient steps lead up the steep forested hillside. The base is about a 20-minute walk from the center of Kathmandu. This staircase is the only route pilgrims would consider and is the most memorable way for any visitor to experience the stupa. However, an alternative is to drive or take a taxi to the west side, where there are only a few steps to climb to the top.
Fast Facts


LocationKathmandu Valley
EraBefore 5th century
Unique Feature365 steps lead to the Temple that is believed to be 'Self-Created' or 'Self-Existence'
CategoryWold Heritage Site

Major Attractions Of Swayambunath Stupa


The Stupa
Swayambhunath Stupa is a golden spire crowning a conical wooded hill. It is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu Valley. It has a lofty white dome and a glittering golden spire that are visible from all sides of the valley. Historical records found on a stone inscription give evidence that the stupa was already an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination by the 5th century A.D. i.e. before the coming of Buddhism in the valley.


Area Surrounding The Stupa
The surroundings of Swyambhunarayan Stupa consists of chaityas, temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects.

Harati Temple
The temple is dedicated to the goddess of smallpox and other epidemics. The presence of the Harati Devi temple signifies the intermingling of the pantheons of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal.

Palace Of Peace
A top Syambunath hill is another fascinating, though less visited temple, Shantipur, popularly known as the 'Palace of Peace'. It is said that inside the secret underground chamber of the temple lives the 8th century Tantric master, Shantikar Acharya. The master, it is believed, has lived through centuries and has full control on the weather and the King of Kathmandu must go to him in times of drought. 

Architecture 
Amazing to look at, the architectural beauty of Swayambunath Temple gives way to the feelings of reverence and adoration. The stupa consists of a dome at the base and a cubical structure with eyes of Buddha looking in all the four directions. There are pentagonal Toran present above each of the four sides with statues engraved in them. Behind and above the torana there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers, there is a small space above which the Gajur is present. 

Mythology 
According to Swayambhu Puran, the entire Kathmandu valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a mystical Lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning 'Self-Created' or 'Self-Existent'. The Bodhistava Manjushri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it.
In order to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjushri cut a gorge through the mountains surrounding the valley. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower become the Swayambhunath stupa.


Symbology 
The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person gets free (represented by eyes of mercy and self knowledge) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state a bit higher. After that, the person has to cross thirteen stages represented by the tiers before attaining Nirvana (salvation).




Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple, with its astonishing architectural beauty, stands as a symbol of faith, religion, culture and tradition. Regarded as the most sacred temple of Hindu Lord Shiva in the world, Pashupatinath Temple's existence dates back to 400 A.D. The richly-ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple, that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings'.




Fast Facts

Location5 km north-east of Kathmandu
CategoryUNESCO listed World Cultural Heritage Site
EraPrior to 400 A.D
Unique Features» Only four priests, appointed by the King, can touch the idol of Lord Shiva.
» The priests are always from south India.
» It is believed that this tradition have been started by Sage Shankaracharaya in 6th century.
Major Attractions Of Pashupatinath Temple
» Gold-painted images of guardian deities
» Chaturmukha (four-faced statue)
» Chadeshvar, an inscribed Licchavi linga from the 7th century
» Brahma Temple
» Dharmashila, a stone where sacred oaths are taken
» Arya Ghat
» Gauri Ghat (holy bath)
» Pandra Shivalaya (15 shrines)
» Gorakhnath and Vishwarup Temples
» Guhyeshwari (Guhjeshwari) Temple
» Kirateshwar Mahadeva Mandir and Surya Ghat


Architecture 
» The two level roofs of the temple are embellished with gold and the four main doors are adorned with silver.
» The temple is famous for its awe-inspiring and astounding pagoda architecture.
» The western door has a statue of a large Bull, Nandi, is ornamented in gold. This black stone idol, about 6 ft in height and circumference, adds to the beauty and charisma of the temple.
» The present architectural nature of Pashupatinath temple came into existence as a result of renovation by Queen Gangadevi during the reign of Shivasimha Malla (1578-1620 AD).


Legends
There are many legends describing as to how the temple of Lord Pashupatinath came to existence here. Some of them are narrated below:-

The Cow Legend
Legend says that Lord Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unkown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him, and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga but overtime it was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.

The Linchchhavi Legend 
According to Gopalraj Vamsavali, the oldest ever chronicle in Nepal, this temple was built by Supus Padeva, a Linchchhavi King, who according to the stone inscription erected by Jayadeva 11 in the courtyard of Pashupatinath in 753 AD, happened to be the ruler 39 generations before Manadeva (464-505 AD).

The Devalaya Legend
Another chronicle states that Pashupatinath Temple was in the form of Linga shaped Devalaya before Supus Padeva constructed a five storey temple of Pashupatinath in this place. As the time passed, the need for reparing and renovating this temple arose. It is learnt that this temple was reconsturcted by a mediaeval King named Shivadeva (1099-1126 AD). It was renovated by Ananta Malla adding a roof to it.

Festivals
» Pashupati area is regarded as one of the most important places of pilgrimages for the followers of Hinduism. Thousands of devotees from within and outside the country come to pay homage to Pashupatinath every day. And on special occasions like Ekadasi, Sankranti, Mahashivratri, Teej Akshaya, Rakshabandhan, Grahana (eclipse), Poornima (Full moon day) the whole atmosphere turns festive and mirthful as people congregate here in a far greater number.
» During the Shivaratri (also spelled Shivratri) festival Pashupatinath temple is lit with ghee lamps throughout the night and the temple remains open all night. Thousands of devotees take ritual baths in the Bagmati river on the day of the festival and observe a fast for the whole day. Hundreds of sadhus (sages) from different parts of Nepal and India come here on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.


Auspicious Days To Visit 
In August, during the Teej festival, thousands of women visit the temple to bathe in the holy waters of the Bagmati River. Because this ritual is meant to bring a long and happy marriage, many women dress in red saris, which are traditionally worn for wedding ceremonies. Full moon and New moon days are also considered auspicious to visit the temple.

Good To Know 
According to a legend recorded in local texts, especially the Nepalamahatmya and the Himavatkhanda, the Hindu Lord Shiva once fled from the other gods in Varanasi to Mrigasthali, the forest on the opposite bank of the Bagmati River from the temple. There, in the form of a gazelle, he slept with his consort Parvati. When the gods discovered him there and tried to bring him back to Varanasi, he leapt across the river to the opposite bank, where one of his horns broke into four pieces. After this, Shiva became manifest as Pashupati (Lord of Animals) in a four-face (chaturmukha) linga.





Lumbini

Lumbini is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas in modern Nepal. In the Buddha's time, Lumbini was a beautiful garden full of green and shady Sal trees (Shorea). The garden and its tranquil environs were owned by both the Shakyas and Kolias clans. King Suddhodana, father of Gautama Buddha was of the Shakya dynasty belonging to the Kshatriya or the warrior caste. Maya Devi, his mother, gave birth to the child on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha while taking rest in Lumbini under a sal tree in the month of May in the year 642 B.C. The beauty of Lumbini is described in Pali and Sanskrit literature. Maya Devi it is said was spellbound to see the natural grandeur of Lumbini. While she was standing, she felt labor pains and catching hold of a drooping branch of a Sal tree, the baby, the future Buddha, was born.
The bas relief above depicts Maya Devi with her right hand holding on to a branch of a sal tree with a newborn child standing upright on a lotus petal, shedding an oval halo, around his head, while two celestial figures pour water and lotuses from vessels of heaven as indicated by the delineation of clouds. This nativity scene was installed by Malla Kings of the Naga dynasty from about the 11th to 15th Century in the Karnali zone of Nepal.
In 249 BC, when the Emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini it was a flourishing village. Ashoka constructed four stupas and a stone pillar with a figure of a horse on top. The stone pillar bears an inscription which, in English translation, runs as follows: "King Piyadasi (Ashoka), beloved of devas, in the 20 year of the coronation, himself made a royal visit, Buddha Sakyamuni having been born here, a stone railing was built and a stone pillar erected to the Bhagavan having been born here, Lumbini village was taxed reduced and entitled to the eight part (only)".


Maya Davi Temple

Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. In 1895, Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the great pillar while wandering about the foothills of the Churia range. Further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and a sandstone sculpture within the temple itself which depicts the scenes of the Buddha's birth.
It is pointed out by scholars that the temple of Maya Devi was constructed over the foundations of more than one earlier temple or stupa, and that this temple was probably built on an Ashokan stupa itself. On the south of the Maya Devi temple there is the famous sacred bathing pool known as Puskarni. It is believed that Maha Devi took a bath in this pool before the delivery. By the side of the Ashoka pillar there is a river which flows southeast and is locally called the 'Ol' river. In 1996, an archaeological dig unearthed a "flawless stone" placed there by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC to mark the precise location of the Buddha's birth more than 2,600 years ago, if authenticated, the find will put Lumbini even more prominently on the map for millions of religious pilgrims.
Recently, several beautiful shrines have been built by devotees from Buddhist countries. A visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is not only for spiritual enlightenment but also for solace and satisfaction that one gets in such a calm and peaceful place.





Bouddhanath Stupa
Bouddhanath Stupa, the biggest stupa in Nepal, lies about 7 km east of the capital. The Bouddhanath stupa, also called by many as Khasti Chitya, is one of the oldest stupas in the country. After 1959, many Tibetans arrived and settled in Bouddhanath area. The stupa, a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site, is included in World Heritage Cultural site list by UNESCO. The Bouddhanath Stupa is one of Nepal's most holy sites for the Buddhist faith.It constructed as a monument to the Buddha, with a representation of his "all-seeing eyes" painted on the upper tower to watch the four cardinal compass directions.


Fast Facts 

Location7 km east of Kathmandu
ImportanceUNESCO world Heritage Site
UNESCO CategoryCultural
UNESCO Listed1979



Structure
With diameter of about 100m and 40m height, Buddhanath holds its place among the largest stupas in the world. The Buddhanath stupa covers a vast area. It has a round path at the bottom while another path is made of three-tier plinth. The stupa resembles Swayambhunath stupa to some extent. The most impressive part of the stupa is the eyes of the Buddha which are painted with red, white and blue colors. 


Festivals
Lhosar, the Tibetan new year festival, is the most popular festival celebrated at Bodhanath Stupa. Lhosar festival begins with prayers and worship. Thousands of Tibetans dress in traditional attire and dance after expressing reverence for Buddha. Number of Tibetans come from Laddakh, Sikkim, Bhutan to take part in this festival.


Attractions
In Buddhanath Stupa, there are many monasteries or Gompa attractions. They are all impressively adorned and colorfully painted. Anyone can visit the monasteries and take visuals. It is advisable to give small donation if you take photographs.


Tit-Bits 
The whole structure has a diameter of about 100 meters and a height of approximate 40 meters.Legend holds that King Manadeva erected the Bouddhanath stupa during the Lichavi period. It has been refurbished many times. The present stupa was renovated in the seventeenth century.