Once upon a time according to the legend there was a primordial lake surrounded by lush green forested mountains. In this untouched lake lived enormous serpents until one fine day, Manjushree raised a mighty sword and in one fell swoop, cut open the side of a mountain at a place now known as Chovar. The roomy waters of the lake gushed out leaving behind a fertile valley which we know today as Kathmandu valley.
Kathmandu, the capital and the largest city of Nepal, derives its name from Kasthmandap, "house of wood" a pagoda-style temple. A few steps away are the Temple of the Living Goddess, where the clients may catch a glimpse of the Kumari at one of the open windows overlooking the inner courtyard. All around the splendor of historical monuments is the hustle & bustle of the market place. Vegetable vendors, trees of flutes, salesmen with their wares displayed on their person, souvenir hawkers, and street shop selling imported goods and tucked away in a quiet corner the glittering bead market for custom made bead necklaces.
Thamel the old part of the city with quaint short and narrow streets, numerous nooks and crannies contains hotels, restaurants, offices and shops. Durbar Square, world heritage site, is important and fascinating place to visit, containing numerous Hindu temples, statutes of various Hindu deities and the palace of Kumari, the living goddess. Other important place is Pashupatinath, the biggest Hindu temple in the world, considered the most significant for Hindu followers attracting numerous pilgrims and colourful Sadus; for many Hindu it is a preferred cremation site on banks of Bagmati River. There are two significant Buddhist Gompas in Kathmandu Swayambhunath and Baudhanath, and also world heritage sites. Nagarkot, the highest hill in the range surrounding Kathmandu Valley, some 35km from the city centre offers unprecedented view on Langtang range and some of the giants beyond the range such as Annapurna, Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.
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