Kathmandu Valley




Wedged between India, Pakistan, Tibet and China, the Kathmandu Valley has been a crossroads of civilizations for the past 2,000 years.  Originally settled by the Newars, the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal is a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism, animist rituals and Tantrism, making it unique in the world. The Newars have the longest continuous history in the valley, and were responsible for the creation of the religious architecture.  The tiered temples constructed by the Newars, found nowhere else, are made of fired brick with mud mortar and timber, with roofs covered in small terracotta tiles. The windows and doorways are filled with lavish carvings.


In their World Heritage designation, UNESCO inscribed seven zones.  The three urban zones are Durbar Squares (open centers containing palaces, temples and public spaces) in the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.  The additional four zones are religious sites:  the Buddhist stupas with their all-seeing eyes at Swayambhunath and Boudhanath, and the Hindu temple complexes at Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan.  In total, there are at least 130 monuments at the site.


In 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central Nepal, with its epicenter 80 km from Kathmandu. Extensive damage occurred in Kathmandu, especially to the buildings in its historic center.  9,000 people died, and 16,800 were injured.  Over 750 historical buildings were damaged. Reconstruction is underway, made all the more difficult by the irregular architecture of the Newars, but it is expected to be a long and laborious process.


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