The city cores are a network of streets, shrines and plazas which offer a model of compact urban design. Narrow alleys suddenly open out into squares dominated by a temple. Hidden courtyards provide a peaceful haven from the bustle of the street. Walk or hire a rickshaw, and explore a world of exotic bazaars, vibrant culture and artistic monuments blended into daily life.
Start at Thamel and walk south to Thahiti, a market square with a stupa at its center. Thahiti means "upper water spout" and marks the old citys northern section, or "uptown". Keep to the left, and after passing the intersection of Kusumbiya-lachhi, you come to Tyoura square with its Jwalamai temple. Keep walking south past shops selling brown sugar and dried fish to emerge at the stone-paved square of Asan, where the Annapurna temple presides over a motley of spice and grain shops. Take a right, and a few steps down the street lined with dried fruit shops, there is an alley to the left, off of which is an entryway leading to the 15th-century courtyard of Tachhe Baha.
Back on the main road, squeeze past shops overflowing with brass utensils and you come to Kel Tol with its 600-year-old courtyard of Jana Baha. Further on is the junction of Indra Chowk. Your next halt after weaving your way through the street lined with cloth shops is Makhan, where the Taleju temple towers over a row of handicraft shops. Walk on to Durbar Square and make a right turn at the Shiva-Parvati temple (the one with mannequins of the two deities looking out from the window).
Walking past the Kot (old armory), you come to an entryway on your left which leads to Yatkha Baha, a large courtyard with a stupa. Continue north to the temple of Bhulukha Dega. A window set into the house next to it is called Desay Madu Jhya (meaning "the window without equal in the country").
The intersection of Naradevi is marked by the temple of Netamaru Ajima (a protective goddess). Take a right to Itum Baha, a vast courtyard dotted with shrines. This ancient neighborhood is famed as the former home of legendary femme fatale Rajamati and the giant Guru Mapa. Go down Kilagal, which is lined with herbal medicine shops, and turn left at the Bheda Sing intersection to Thaymadu. Walking north on Naghal street, past the Sheegha stupa to your left, brings you back to Thahiti, your starting point.
HERITAGE WALK (1 km)
This is a discovery detour promoted by Kathmandu Metropolitan City that takes in little-visited places. Start at Teku, south of old Kathmandu, and walk up the incline to Wonde Narayan, a 17th-century temple dedicated to Lord Bishnu. Take a left and stroll down Hyumat Tol to the Buddhist courtyard of Kusan Baha. Next on the route is Narayan Dewal to your left, another Bishnu temple.
Walk on and to your right is the 600-year-old Tukan Baha stupa. Passing the Ramchandra Dewal on your left, you come to Jaisi Dewal, a huge Shiva temple built in 1688. A few steps down the sloping road to the pagodas west brings you to the sunken fountains known as Kwahiti. Kwahiti means "lower water spout" and marks the old citys southern section, or "downtown". Back to Jaisi Dewal and continue north down Chikan Mugal to Atko Narayan, one of the four main Bishnu temples in Kathmandu.
Saunter on to Maru dominated by the massive Kasthamandap pavilion. Make an about-turn and go down the street at the southwest corner. Midway down the slope and next to the sunken water spouts is the Bhimsen temple. Built in 1655, it is dedicated to the patron deity of traders. You can get back to your starting point by keeping to the left and continuing down the street. At the corner, turn left to Jaisi Dewal and then take a right to Teku.
THE OTHER PATAN
The 2,000-year-old city of Patan is situated 3 km south of Kathmandu across the Bagmati river. The following itinerary has been developed by Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City.
The tour starts at Naka Bahi, a Buddhist courtyard with shrines, resthouses and a dance platform. Then on to Nyakha Chuka which means "five-house courtyard" in reference to the way alternate houses in a row have been recessed so that five are forward and five are set back. Your next stop is Naga Baha (serpent courtyard), an important Buddhist site with a profusion of shrines. Swatha Square offers a number of beautiful shrines and traditional architecture.
Walk on to Tum Baha, a Buddhist courtyard with a temple at its center, and then to Walkhu which is notable for its 16th-century temple of Ganesh. Ambling into Chyasa, you will find artistic resthouses and stone water spouts. An image of Goddess Gajalakshmi here is dated first century AD which makes it one of the oldest shrines in Nepal. Walk back to Khapinchhe and its magnificent temple and ancient water tanks, and then take a left to Chapat where there is a much-revered Ganesh temple.
Your next stop is the courtyard of Su Baha which is believed to have been constructed over a cremation ground. Bhinchhe Baha is another Buddhist courtyard famed for stone carving, and Dupat has a traditional community building which is still used for meetings and feasts. Turn right and walk on to Nugah, your final destination, which is notable for its stone water spouts.
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