Kathmandu Valley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kathmandu Valley, Nepa Valley
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Kathmandu Valley krish.jpg
Kathmandu valley seen from Palanse, Bhaktapur
LocationBagmati Pradesh, Nepal
Inscription1979 (3rd session)
Area665 square km
Coordinates27°42′14″N 85°18′31″E / 27.70389°N 85.30861°E / 27.70389; 85.30861Coordinates: 27°42′14″N 85°18′31″E / 27.70389°N 85.30861°E / 27.70389; 85.30861
Kathmandu Valley is located in Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley
Location of Kathmandu Valley in Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley is located in Bagmati Pradesh
Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley (Bagmati Pradesh)
Kathmandu Valley is located in Nepal
Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)

The Kathmandu Valley (Nepali: काठमाडौं उपत्यका, Nepal Bhasa: स्वनिगः, नेपाः गाः), historically known as Nepal Valley or Nepa Valley, lies at the crossroads of ancient civilizations of the Indian subcontinent and the broader Asian continent, and has at least 130 important monuments, including several pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists. There are seven World Heritage Sites within the valley.[2]

Historically, the valley and adjoining areas made up a confederation known as the Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital, when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur (Patan), were established.[3]

The Kathmandu Valley is the most developed and populated place in Nepal. The majority of offices and headquarters are located in the valley, making it the economic hub of Nepal. It is popular with tourists for its unique architecture, and rich culture that includes the highest number of jatras (street festivals) in Nepal. The valley itself was referred to as "Nepal Proper" by British historians.

In 2015, Kathmandu Valley was hit by the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.[4] The earthquake caused thousands of deaths and destruction of many infrastructures across the Kathmandu Valley, which includes the towns of Lalitpur, Kirtipur, Madhyapur Thimi, Bhaktapur and the municipalities across Kathmandu valley making the total population of roughly 1.5 million people. Kathmandu is also the largest city in the Himalayan hill region.


Kathmandu is not the native name used by the indigenous Nepa people of the valley. The indigenous Nepa people used the term "Swa Nhi Gha" ( स्व नि ग: ) to refer whole area of the Kathmandu Valley and "Ye"( ये ) to refer Kathmandu only. Similarly, Newari term for Patan is "Yela"( यल ) while for Bhaktpaur it's "Khwopa" ( ख्वप ). The term "Nepa-al" means "land of the Nepa people" and was traditionally used to refer this valley.[5]

The Pahari name Kathmandu comes from a structure in the Durbar Square called by the Sanskrit name Kāsṣtha mandapa "Wooden shelter". This unique temple, also known as the Maru Sattal, was built in 1596 by King Lakshmi Narasimha Malla. The entire structure contained no iron nails or supports and was made entirely from wood. Legend has it that the timber used for this two-story pagoda was obtained from a single tree.


The Kathmandu Valley may have been inhabited as early as 300 BCE, since the oldest known objects in the valley date to a few hundred years BCE. The earliest known inscription is dated 185 CE. The oldest firmly dated building in the earthquake-prone valley is over 2,000 years old. Four stupas around the city of Patan that are said to have been erected by a Charumati, a purported daughter of the Maurya emperor Ashoka, in the third century BCE, attest to the ancient history present within the valley. As with the tales of the Buddha's visit, there is no evidence supporting Ashok's visit, but the stupas probably date to that century. The Licchavis, whose earliest inscriptions date to 464, were the next rulers of the valley and had close ties with the Gupta Empire of India. The Mallas ruled the Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding area from the 12th until the 18th century CE, when the Shah dynasty of the Gorkha Kingdom under Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the valley as he created present-day Nepal. His victory in the Battle of Kirtipur was the beginning of his conquest of the valley.


The Newars are the indigenous inhabitants and the creators of the historic civilization of the valley. Their language is today known as Nepal Bhasa.[6] They are understood to be the descendants of the various ethnic and racial groups that have inhabited and ruled the valley in the two-millennium history of the place. Scholars have also described the Newars as a nation.[7] They have developed a division of labour and a sophisticated urban civilization not seen elsewhere in the Himalayan foothills. They are known for their contributions to art, sculpture, architecture, culture, literature, music, industry, trade, agriculture and cuisine, and left their mark on the art of Central Asia.

Newa architecture consists of the pagoda, stupa, shikhara, chaitya and other styles. The valley's trademark is the multiple-roofed pagoda which may have originated in this area and spread to India, China, Indochina and Japan.[8][9] The most famous artisan who influenced stylistic developments in China and Tibet was Araniko, a Newar who traveled to the court of Kublai Khan in the 13th century AD.[8] He is known for building the white stupa at the Miaoying Temple in Beijing. At present, people from other parts of Nepal tend to migrate to the valley for a better life due to its high level of cultural and economic development. Even with urbanization taking place, the Newars have sustained their culture in Kathmandu Valley.


According to Swayambhu Puran, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake, deemed by scientists as Paleo Kathmandu Lake. The hill where the Swayambu Stupa rests had lotus plants with flowers in bloom. One story says that the God Manjusri cut a gorge at a valley called Kashapaal (later called Chobhar) with a sword called Chandrahrasha and drained away the waters in order to establish a habitable land.

According to Gopal Banshawali, Krishna cut the gorge with his Sudarshana Chakra to let the water out. He then handed the drained valley to the Gopal Vansi people, who were nomadic cow herders.


Mountain view from Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu valley is bowl-shaped. Its central lower part stands at 1,425 metres (4,675 ft) above sea level. Kathmandu valley is surrounded by four mountain ranges: Shivapuri hills (at an elevation of 2,732 metres or 8,963 feet), Phulchowki (2,695 metres or 8,842 feet), Nagarjun (2,095 metres or 6,873 feet) and Chandragiri (2,551 metres or 8,369 feet). The major river flowing through the Kathmandu Valley is the Bagmati.

The valley is made up of the Kathmandu District, Lalitpur District and Bhaktapur District covering an area of 220 square miles (570 km2). The valley consists of the municipal areas of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur and Madhyapur Thimi; the remaining area is made up of a number of municipalities and rural municipalities (in Lalitpur district). The valley is a cultural and political hub of Nepal. The Kathmandu valley was accorded the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1979.

Places to see[edit]

Dese Maru Jhya, the only window of its kind in the country
Changu Narayan temple

This is an incomplete alphabetical list of notable temples and monuments in Kathmandu Valley. Seven of these are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[2]


Narayanhiti Palace Museum

This valley hosts a UNESCO World Heritage Site with seven preserved locations: the centers of the three primary cities, Kathmandu Hanuman Dhoka, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the two most important Buddhist stupas, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath and two famous Hindu shrines, Pashupatinath temple and Changu Narayan.[10] In 2003, UNESCO listed the sites as being "endangered" out of concern for the ongoing loss of authenticity and the outstanding universal value of the cultural property. The endangered status was lifted in 2007.[11]

In the past, Tibetan Buddhist Masters including Marpa, Milarepa, Rwa Lotsava, Ras Chungpa, Dharma Swami, XIII Karmapa, XVI Karmapa and several others visited and travelled in the Kathmandu Valley. However, the largest group of Tibetans came in the 1960s. Many settled around the Swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupas. Many other famous Lamas known throughout the world have their Buddhist monasteries and centers in the Kathmandu Valley.[12]

The 1500-year history of funerary architecture in the valley provides some of the finest examples of stone architecture found in the subcontinent. A caitya is placed in almost all courtyards in cities like Patan.[13] Stone inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley are important sources for the history of Nepal.


Kathmandu Valley has total population of 2,517,023.[14]

Kathmandu (National Capital Area)[edit]

Kathmandu (NCT)

काठमाण्डौ (राष्ट्रिय राजधानी क्षेत्र)
Proposed Territory
Kathmandu Valley (a separate territory)
Kathmandu Valley (a separate territory)
Capital TerritoryKathmandu
 • Total902.61 km2 (348.50 sq mi)
 • Total2,517,023

It is proposed to Government of Nepal to develop Kathmandu valley as a separate national capital territory and not a part of Bagmati Pradesh.[15][16][17]

Kathmandu Valley consists 3 Districts of Bagmati Pradesh of Which total population is 2472071 and total area is 902.61 square kilometres (348.50 sq mi)

District Area Population
Kathmandu 433.61 square kilometres (167.42 sq mi) 1,699,288
Bhaktapur 119 square kilometres (46 sq mi) 304,651
Latipur 350 square kilometres (140 sq mi) 468,132
Kathmandu NCT 902.61 square kilometres (348.50 sq mi) 2,472,071

Local level bodies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Royal Palaces of Abomey and Kathmandu removed from Danger List at UNESCO website
  2. ^ a b Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Kathmandu Valley". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  3. ^ Slusser, Mary (1982). Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. Princeton University. ISBN 978-0-691-03128-6. Page vii.
  4. ^ "Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal". Government of Nepal. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  5. ^ Rajendra S. Khadka Travelers' Tales Nepal
  6. ^ von Furer-Haimendorf, Christoph (1956). "Elements of Newar Social Structure". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 86: 15. doi:10.2307/2843991. JSTOR 2843991.
  7. ^ "Mesocosm". publishing.cdlib.org. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  8. ^ a b American University (Washington, D. C. ) Foreign Areas Studies Division; United States. Army (8 September 1964). "Area handbook for Nepal (with Sikkim and Bhutan)". Washington, For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off. Retrieved 8 September 2018 – via Internet Archive.
  9. ^ ISBN 1-870838-76-9
  10. ^ "places-to-see/unesco-world-heritage-sites".
  11. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "UNESCO World Heritage Centre - State of Conservation (SOC 2003) Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  12. ^ Observation on the influence of Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley: Archived 20 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Gutschow, Niels (1997). The Nepalese Caitya: 1500 Years of Buddhist Votive Architecture in the Kathmandu Valley. ISBN 978-3-930698-75-2. Pages 30-31.
  14. ^ "Census Data" (PDF). 2011.
  15. ^ "Call for integrated development of Kathmandu Valley". My Republica. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Road Map for Making Kathmandu Valley Development Concept Plan Risk Sensitive ..." (PDF). UNDP, Nepal. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  17. ^ "Valley envisioned as national capital of federal Nepal". The Halayan. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2020.

External links[edit]