10 Best Places To Visit In Kathmandu In Flat 48 Hours

by Kanika Sharma
10 Best Places To Visit In Kathmandu In Flat 48 Hours

We often tend to ignore the destinations that are closest to us. Geographically. We all have a travel bucket-list but how many of us actually include places from India or the neighbouring countries in it? Neither did I, so I decided to change that; and made a weekend trip to Kathmandu in Nepal. What initially seemed like a chance taken, turned out to be a good decision. The home of Himalayas had, one-too-many surprises in store for me, and I was going to experience it all!

Why Kathmandu?

It is an ideal go-to destination for mountaineers and trekkers. They spend days, even months, acclimatising to make sure they have a successful attempt of summiting the highest mountain peak in the world – the Mt. Everest. Apart from that, it is extensively known for its culture and monuments, some of which have been given the title of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. I knew I wasn’t going to attempt climbing the mountains, so two days were enough to travel to a ‘foreign country’. Another important deciding factor was that Nepalese Rupee is cheaper than the Indian Rupee, hence, this was my chance to feel wealthier and I didn’t want to miss out on it.

The Journey

I was lucky enough to get a seat on Vistara’s Delhi-Kathmandu inaugural flight; and that too Business Class! Flying and dining is a different experience altogether when you are made to feel comfortable with hot and cold towels, passion fruit refresher drinks, great cocktails and delicious meals. I was so intrigued by all the options on the menu, that I decided to go in for an Asian meal that was served with tofu and udon noodles. On the side, I ordered a Whisky Sour. By the time I was served, we were already over the Himalayas. With a view like that and a meal that tasted straight out of any fine-dining restaurant, it took the whole experience a notch up by about 30,000 ft. In that moment, I was go glad because I was going to fly Vistara back to Delhi as well. And my return journey was like the Mocha Irish Cream cake that was served to me, smooth, and comforting.

Also read: Nepal Enters Guinness Book Of World Records For Mt Everest Fashion Show

I also got the opportunity to meet Mr. Vinod Kannan, CCO of Vistara, a Tata-SIA venture. I was intrigued with the number of people on the first flight to Kathmandu, so I couldn’t help myself from asking the obvious. He mentioned that the flight was 95% full, which was quite good for an inaugural flight. He further added that “right now only Boeing 737s were operating on the route which meant that the passengers would only be able to fly Economy and Business Class.” However, they are expecting Airbus 320s to start plying on this route soon. Kathmandu is an all season destination. Currently, there is only one flight on the route, but soon that number is expected to grow as well.

Touchdown Kathmandu

Indians don’t need a visa to enter Nepal. While you can get entry in the country with a valid govt id too, but it is suggested that you carry your passport.

On my way from the airport to the hotel, as I travelled through the town, it looked like any other small hill station in India, so I felt right at home. After checking into the hotel, Yak and Yeti, and taking a couple of hours to rest, in the evening I decided to explore Thamel, which is known for its popular ‘nightlife’. I have to say I had my guards up because of the whole Coronavirus scare, so I stayed away from the street food and some local food joints. But if you dare, then you shouldn’t care. Souvenirs, singing bowls, traditional outfits, woollens, even Chinese lanterns; you can find it all here. The beautiful thing about Kathmandu is that even in the most crowded areas, you’ll find a shrine, or a temple, that breaks the monotony of every day life and reminds you to take a breather, say a prayer and light a lamp.

Also read: Haryana Sisters Denied Passports Because They Look Nepali;

I, then, made my way back to the hotel and decided to dine at Chimney. A fine-dine restaurant offering multi-cuisine food and Nepalese beers! Home brews always have me intrigued. But I can’t say I was surprised when I asked for what all was on the menu – Sherpa, Gorkha and Everest. I was amused and impressed.

Things To Do In Kathmandu

I wanted to move at my own pace. Yes, I just had 24hrs, but the idea wasn’t to tick things off the list, but to soak in every bit of it. Starting the day late, the first pitstop was Freak Street. Back in the 1960s and 1970s it was the hangout place for hippies and the availability of marijuana was just an add on. Located near Durbar Square, if you are looking to get inked, get a customised t-shirt or for that matter even get braiding done, this is the spot in town to be at.

Kathmandu Durbar Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that witnessed a lot of devastation during the 2015 Nepal earthquake. It is now being restored with the help of China govt. In Durbar Square you’ll find numerous temples that are dedicated to different Gods and Goddesses. But one of the most prominent temple in the vicinity is ‘Kumari Bahal’. This temple or divine house belongs to the Kumari – the living Goddess. A five year old girl, sometimes younger, is appointed as a living goddess and she spends her life in the temple until she hits puberty. You can access its courtyard but can’t visit her during any time of the day or the year. It is only during specific occasions that you can catch a glimpse of her or get blessed by her. 

The next stop of the day was The Dwarika’s Hotel because when you are in Nepal, how can you not try the traditional Nepalese Thali? In fact, this heritage hotel is known to serve the best traditional thali in town and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. I decided to try the vegetarian one that had spinach momos, brown rice, yellow dal, a dish made of bamboo shoots, mixed vegetable along with ghee and salad on the side. It was more than enough for one person and quite delicious too!

Home Of Temples And Shrines

Pashupatinath Temple is considered to be among the four most important worship sites in Asia for devotees of Lord Shiva. It has also been given the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple complex. It also has the largest statue of Nandi the bull and the temple is thronged with thousands of devotees who travel all the way to visit the Shiva linga that is placed inside the temple walls. Specially during Maha Shivratri!

Also read: Did You Know That World’s Highest Shiva Temple Is Located In Uttarakhand?

Not too far from the temple I visited the largest stupa in the world: the Boudhanath Stupa, which is located in Mini Tibet. As I entered the gates, the white, serene structure with Lord Buddha’s eyes watching over its people left me in awe. I did want to visit it during the day but at night, it was just as breathtaking. As I walked around the Stupa, the winds blew the prayer flags, the chants resonated in the air, and as people lit their lamps and turned prayer wheels, a calm feeling took over.

The next one on my list was Swayambhunath Stupa which is on the uphill. So you have to climb your way to it and when you’re about to reach there, the first thing that you’ll see is the monkeys. Hundreds of them live on, and roam around the temple complex. Therefore, it’s also called Monkey Temple by many. This complex consists of a stupa, variety of shrines and temples inside it. This is considered to be one of the important and oldest religious temple in Nepal where chanting sessions keep happening in which you can also participate. This temple is at such a height that it offers a beautiful view of the Kathmandu valley.

Image credits: Handluggage Only

And On The Last Day…

Since I had to take the Vistara flight back in the evening, so I made the most of my first half of the day on the breakfast table and walking around the Yak and Yeti hotel. It is located in the heart of the city and as you step out of the small lane, you enter a very upmarket area with showrooms and good places to eat at. Not too far from the hotel is the palace called Narayanhiti Palace Museum, which used to be the home of the royal family. It turned into a museum after the entire family was massacred in the year 2001. 

Also read: Dare To Try The Hallucinogenic Honey In Nepal ?

Image credits: GoGlides

I also heard a lot from locals about the Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu. So I decided to take a walk there before reaching the airport. It’s a place away from the chaos and hustle-bustle of the city. A neo classical historical garden within the Kaiser Mahal complex of the Rana Palace is one of the most sophisticated and beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen. It was earlier called Garden of Six Seasons which opened for general public in 2007. It’s huge garden which has number of pavilions, amphitheater, central ponds, urns and many sub gardens as well. I must say that Garden of Dreams was a sought-after retreat for me. The end to my two days getaway couldn’t get any better.  

I never thought that I would be able to visit a foreign country over a weekend. The afternoon flight and the evening return gave me enough time in the city to explore and also not feel fatigued when I returned back home. But I have to admit, that despite the beautiful monuments and the great culture, my favourite one was cruising at 30,000ft, with the snow-capped Mt. Everest in sight. I raised a toast to all those have done the unthinkable and summited the highest mountain peak in the world. For those who dared to try and couldn’t succeed, and those who lost their lives attempting what was believed to be impossible, I bow to you.