‘Durbar’ means palace, and it is from here that kings of yore ruled over the city. Durbar square is a treasure trove of history, art and culture – a complex of ancient Newari architecture, temples, shrines and palaces which have earned it a UNESCO World listing. Durbar was partly hit by the 2015 earthquake but still maintains its bewitching, 12th century charm.
The jewel crowns of Durbar square are the Hanuman Dhoka, a complex of royal palaces, the splendid Taleju temple towering at 35 and the Kumari Bahal, the residence of the “living goddess”, a young girl selected from the Newari community and worshipped for her “divine female power” – one of the most curious traditions of the Nepalese.
The old city of Kathmandu has a pulse of long ago. A mystifying maze of alleyways, you are bound to encounter enchanting shrines or statues in unlikely places. Ornate temples abound, all dating to prehistoric times.
Thamel district is synonymous with prayer flags and rickshaw bicycles. It’s a one stop shop for all things Kathmandu: paper lanterns, colorful clothes, and thangka paintings (aesthetic, 3 dimensional paintings used for meditation). As sunset approaches, tens of lights flood the town, and live, lively music pours out of its bars.