Kathmandu, Nepal

Panoramic view of Bodnath Temple, Kathmandu. Photo Creative Commons License David Humpohl.

Kathmandu (काठमांडौ) is the capital and commercial hub of Nepal, located near the confluence of two rivers at an elevation of 4,344 feet (1,324 m). According to legend, the area was originally a lake but the Hindu god Manjushri cut open a hill to the south and allowed the water to flow out, making the region habitable. The city was founded in 723 as Manju-Patan, its present name comes from a wooden temple (kath mandir) built from a single tree by Raja Lachmina Singh in 1596. Once thought to be the inaccessible Shangri-La, modern Kathmandu is now a major transportation hub and an increasingly popular destination for travelers. It is also an important pilgrimage destination with a wide variety of temples and shrines sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus.

Swayambhunath Stupa
Approached by a steep staircase, the atmospheric "Monkey Temple" is the oldest and most important Buddhist shrine in Kathmandu.
Pashupatinath Temple
This important Hindu temple is dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals). It lies along the sacred Bagmati River and is used for cremations.
Boudhanath Stupa
The largest stupa in Nepal, Boudhanath is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism.
Kumari Ghar
Kumari Ghar is home to the Living Goddess, a specially chosen young girl believed to be the incarnation of Durga. The brick building is beautifully decorated with wood-carved reliefs.