Located in a lush valley surrounded by verdant hills and the majestic Himalayan range, Kathmandu is a colorful capital city that seamlessly blends ancient heritage with modern vibrancy. Holding a UNESCO World Heritage status since 1979, Kathmandu offers a unique fusion of religions, captivating heritage architecture, and rich history.
If you’re looking for an immersive cultural experience, the vibrant city of Kathmandu offers a fascinating blend of history, legend, and stunning architecture.
The history of Kathmandu
The Kathmandu valley was once divided into three kingdoms – Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur – with the Kathmandu kingdom founded in 723 AD by King Gunakamadev.
The Kathmandu kingdom thrived as a crucial trading route between Tibet and India during the Malla Dynasty (1201-1779) and flourished with the construction of impressive temples, monuments, and structures. The Gorkha king, Prithvi Narayan Shah, conquered the valley in 1769 and made Kathmandu the capital of Nepal, ushering in a new era of Shah dynasty rule. However, the Kot massacre in 1846 saw the country come under the feudal Rana regime for over a century, leading to Nepal’s isolation from the outside world. It was only after the Rana rule ended in 1951 that Nepal opened up, allowing tourism to flourish.
The history of Kathmandu dates back even further, with archaeological discoveries revealing evidence of civilizations dating back to the 7th century BC. Kathmandu Valley was once a vast and deep lake, with fossil remains predating the Ice Age.
The legend of Kathmandu
According to legend, a Buddha sowed a lotus seed in the valley’s lake during a full moon, and a self-created god, Swayambhu, emerged from the flower, emitting a beam of light. The light is still believed to be present beneath the Swayambhunath stupa’s hilltop to this day. The Tibetan saint Manjushree came from the north and, upon seeing the beaming Swayambhu light, carved the Kotwal gorge with his sword to drain the water from the valley.