Kathmandu is an incredibly diverse historic city with breathtaking Newari architecture, centuries old Hindu and Buddhist religious sites along with dedicated tourist–friendly accommodations and restaurants. Stepping into Kathmandu is like stepping into another world that everybody should experience at least once in their lifetime. Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions rub shoulders with the latest technology. The grandeur of the past enchants the visitor whose gaze may linger on an exquisitely carved wooden window frame, an 18th century bronze sculpture or a spiritually uplifting stupa. Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal, is the political as well as cultural capital of the country. Like any big city, Kathmandu has seen rapid expansion in the last decade, but despite the hustle and bustle so typical of metropolitan cities, its people remain refreshingly friendly.
The city is a warden of its ancestral value “Atithi Devo Bhava” meaning "Guest is equivalent to God". Retaining its ancient traditions, Kathmandu is blessed by Living Goddess Kumari and is enriched by endless ceremonial processions and events that take to the streets every now and then with throngs of devotees seeking joy in spiritual celebrations. These religious festivals are steeped in legends and are quite a spectacle with chariot processions and masked dancers often possessed by the spirits of deities. The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres (4,600 feet) above sea level in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal. The valley is historically termed as "Nepal Proper" and has been the home of Newar culture, a cosmopolitan urban civilization in the Himalayan foothills.
The city was the royal capital of the Kingdom of Nepal and hosts palaces, mansions and gardens of the Nepalese aristocracy. It has been home to the headquarters of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) since 1985. Today, it is the seat of government of the Nepalese republic established in 2008; and is part of the Bagmati Zone in Nepalese administrative geography. Kathmandu has been the center of Nepal's history, art, culture and economy. It has a multiethnic population within a Hindu and Buddhist majority. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Tourism is an important part of the economy as the city is the gateway to the Nepalese Himalayas. There are also seven casinos in the city. In 2013, Kathmandu was ranked third among the top ten upcoming travel destinations in the world by TripAdvisor, and ranked first in Asia. Historic areas of Kathmandu were devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April 2015. Nepali is the most spoken language in the city, while English is understood by the city's educated residents.
The history of the city of Kathmandu, which is inseparable from that of the Kathmandu valley, dates back to ancient times. Archaeological explorations indicate that Kathmandu and the two other sister towns in the valley were the oldest towns and are traced to the period between 167 BC and 1 AD. Excavations conducted at Hadigaon and Lubhu in southern part of the valley, in Kathmandu, have unearthed brick walls and Stone Age tools. In 1992, workers digging a trench for the foundation of a house in Maligaon in Eastern Kathmandu discovered a life size (171 x 49 cm) standing male figure carved in pale sandstone, clearly made in the Kushan style. The sculpture was donated by an early Licchavi or pre-Licchavi monarch, named Jaya Varman with an inscription on the pedestal. Although the identity of the figure is contested, it is the authors'[who?] opinion that it is likely Jaya Varman himself who is portrayed. It is the oldest known inscription from the Kathmandu Valley. "The inscription on this sculpture, clearly dated to samvat 107, most likely corresponding to AD 185, provides this previously missing evidence, and pushes back the epigraphical documentation of royal rule in the Kathmandu valley nearly three hundred years." The geological setting of the valley points to the existence of a lake near Chobar gorge on the Bagmati River, below the present Pashupatinath Temple, which was a pilgrimage place during the period of the Buddha.
This lake is said to have been drained by Manjushree Bodhisattva, a Buddhist saint, by cutting open an outlet in the southern rim of the valley. As a result, the valley that was created was fertile and people started cultivating here and building their homes here. As the valley grew, Manjushree is said to have worshipped Swayambhu on the hillock where the present Swayambhu temple is located. He also founded the city of Manjupatan, which today lies within the present Kathmandu Metropolitan area, located between Swayambu and Gujeswari near the airport. He even declared his disciple Dharmakarma as the ruler of that city. The reign of Abhir dynasty (of cowherds) of eighth rulers and the Kiratis said to be originally of the northeastern hill region of India (700 BC). Their succession of 29 rulers reigned here until the Lichhavis came into power.
Kathmandu is in the northwestern part of the Kathmandu Valley to the north of the Bagmati River and covers an area of 50.7 km2 (19.6 sq mi). The average elevation is 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) above sea level. The city is bounded by several other municipalities of the Kathmandu valley: south of the Bagmati by Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City (Patan), with which it forms one urban area surrounded by a ring road, to the southwest by Kirtipur Municipality and to the east by Madyapur Thimi Municipality. To the north the urban area extends into several Village Development Committees. However, the urban agglomeration extends well beyond the neighboring municipalities, e.g. to Bhaktapur, and nearly covers the entire Kathmandu valley. Kathmandu is dissected by eight rivers, the main river of the valley, the Bagmati and its tributaries, of which the Bishnumati, Dhobi Khola, Manohara Khola, Hanumant Khola, and Tukucha Khola are predominant.
The mountains from where these rivers originate are in the elevation range of 1,500–3,000 metres (4,900–9,800 ft), and have passes which provide access to and from Kathmandu and its valley. An ancient canal once flowed from Nagarjuna hill through Balaju to Kathmandu; this canal is now extinct. Kathmandu and its valley are in the Deciduous Monsoon Forest Zone (altitude range of 1,200–2,100 metres (3,900–6,900 ft)), one of five vegetation zones defined for Nepal. The dominant tree species in this zone are oak, elm, beech, maple and others, with coniferous trees at higher altitude. Travel – Nepal
Five major climatic regions are found in Nepal. Of these, Kathmandu Valley is in the Warm Temperate Zone (elevation ranging from 1,200–2,300 metres (3,900–7,500 ft)), where the climate is fairly temperate, atypical for the region. This zone is followed by the Cool Temperate Zone with elevation varying between 2,100–3,300 metres (6,900–10,800 ft). Under Köppen's climate classification, portions of the city with lower elevations have a humid subtropical climate (Cwa), while portions of the city with higher elevations generally have a subtropical highland climate. In the Kathmandu Valley, which is representative of its valley's climate, the average summer temperature varies from 28–30 °C (82–86 °F).
The average winter temperature is 10.1 °C (50.2 °F). The city generally has a climate with warm days followed by cool nights and mornings. Unpredictable weather is expected, given that temperatures can drop to 1 °C (34 °F) or less during the winter. During a 2013 cold front, the winter temperatures of Kathmandu dropped to –4 °C (25 °F), and the lowest temperature was recorded on 10 January 2013, at –9.2 °C (15.4 °F). Rainfall is mostly monsoon-based (about 65% of the total concentrated during the monsoon months of June to August), and decreases substantially (100 to 200 cm (39 to 79 in)) from eastern Nepal to western Nepal. Rainfall has been recorded at about 1,400 millimetres (55.1 in) for the Kathmandu valley, and averages 1,407 millimetres (55.4 in) for the city of Kathmandu. On average humidity is 75%.The chart below is based on data from the Nepal Bureau of Standards & Meteorology, "Weather Meteorology" for 2005. The chart provides minimum and maximum temperatures during each month.
The annual amount of precipitation was 1,124 millimetres (44.3 in) for 2005, as per monthly data included in the table above.The decade of 2000–2010 saw highly variable and unprecedented precipitation anomalies in Kathmandu. This was mostly due to the annual variation of the southwest monsoon. For example, 2003 was the wettest year ever in Kathmandu, totalling over 2,900 mm (114 in) of precipitation due to an exceptionally strong monsoon season. In contrast, 2001 recorded only 356 mm (14 in) of precipitation due to an extraordinarily weak monsoon season.
The location and terrain of Kathmandu have played a significant role in the development of a stable economy which spans millennia. The city is in an ancient lake basin, with fertile soil and flat terrain. This geography helped form a society based on agriculture. This, combined with its location between India and China, helped establish Kathmandu as an important trading center over the centuries. Kathmandu's trade is an ancient profession that flourished along an offshoot of the Silk Road which linked India and Tibet. From centuries past, Lhasa Newar merchants of Kathmandu have conducted trade across the Himalaya and contributed to spreading art styles and Buddhism across Central Asia.
Other traditional occupations are farming, metal casting, woodcarving, painting, weaving, and pottery. Kathmandu is the most important industrial and commercial center in Nepal. The Nepal Stock Exchange, the head office of the national bank, the chamber of commerce, as well as head-offices of national and international banks, tele-communication companies, the electricity authority, and various other national and international organizations are in Kathmandu. The major economic hubs are the New Road, Durbar Marg, Ason and Putalisadak. The economic output of the metropolitan area alone is worth more than one third of national GDP around $6.5billion in terms of nominal GDP NR.s 550 billion approximately per year $2200 per capital income approx three times national average.
Kathmandu exports handicrafts, artworks, garments, carpets, pashmina, paper; trade accounts for 21% of its finances.Manufacturing is also important and accounts for 19% of the revenue that Kathmandu generates. Garments and woolen carpets are the most notable manufactured products.Other economic sectors in Kathmandu include agriculture (9%), education (6%), transport (6%), and hotels and restaurants (5%).Kathmandu is famous for lokta paper and pashmina shawls.
The ancient and refined traditional culture of Kathmandu, for that matter in the whole of Nepal, is an uninterrupted and exceptional meeting of the Hindu and Buddhist ethos practiced by its highly religious people. It has also embraced in its fold the cultural diversity provided by the other religions such as Jainism, Islam and Christianity. The ancient trade route between India and Tibet that passed through Kathmandu enabled fusion of artistic and architectural traditions of other cultures to be amalgamated with local architectural and artistic culture.
The City Core has most of the remarkable cultural wealth that evolved during the reign of the Malla kings between 15th and 18th centuries. The city was filled with sculptures, pagodas, stupas and palace buildings of exceptional beauty. There are also 106 monastic courtyards (known as baha or bahi) known for their art and piety. The level of skill of the local artisans are the exquisite wood carving, stone carving, metal casting, weaving, pottery and other crafts. The finest wood carvings are seen on the ornate windows of old buildings and on the roof struts of temples. Carving skills of the local artisans are seen at every street corner in the form of images of gods and goddesses and sunken water spouts.
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