This article is about Kathmandu Metropolitan City. For other uses, see Kathmandu (disambiguation).
Kathmandu Metropolitan City

Yen येँ
Capital city
Metropolitan City

Clockwise from top: Torans seen in portals around Kathmandu, Degutaleju with Taleju in background at Kathmandu Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stupa, Bagmati river, Budhanilkantha, Singha Durbar, Swayambhunath temple at night, Pashupatinath temple

Motto: My legacy, My pride, My Kathmandu (जिगु पौरख, जिगु गौरव, जिगु येँ देय्)
Kathmandu Metropolitan City

Location in Nepal

Coordinates: 27°42′N 85°20′E / 27.700°N 85.333°E / 27.700; 85.333Coordinates: 27°42′N 85°20′E / 27.700°N 85.333°E / 27.700; 85.333
Country Nepal
Development Region Central
Zone Bagmati Zone
District Kathmandu
HDI Increase 0.710 High [1]
HPI Decrease 20.8 Very Low
Literacy Rate Increase 98% High
Established 900 BC
  Executive Officer Rudra Singh Tamang [2]
Area of Metro
  Capital city 49.45 km2 (19.09 sq mi)
  Kathmandu District: 395 sq km
Kathmandu Valley: 642 sq km
Elevation 1,400 m (4,600 ft)
Population (2011)
  Metro 1,003,285 [3]
Male: 533,127 Female: 470,158
  Metro density 20,288.88/km2 (52,548.0/sq mi)
  Kathmandu District: 1,744,240
Kathmandu Valley: 2,517,023
  Local Nepali, English, Newar language, Sherpa, Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Sunuwar/Kiranti, Tibetan, English
  Official Nepali, Nepal Bhasa
Time zone NST (UTC+5:45)
Postal Code 44600 (GPO), 44601, 44602, 44604, 44605, 44606, 44608, 44609, 44610, 44611, 44613, 44614, 44615, 44616, 44617, 44618, 44619, 44620, 44621
Area code(s) 01
Website www.kathmandu.gov.np

Kathmandu(/ˌkɑːtmɑːnˈd/;[4] Nepal Bhasa येँ Nepali pronunciation: [kɑʈʰmɑɳɖu]) is the capital and largest municipality of Nepal. It also hosts the headquarters of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It is the only city of Nepal with the administrative status of Mahanagar (Metropolitan City), as compared to Upa-Mahanagar (Sub-Metropolitan City) or Nagar (City). Kathmandu is the core of Nepal's largest urban agglomeration, consisting of Lalitpur, Kirtipur, Madhyapur Thimi, Bhaktapur and a number of smaller communities in the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu is also known informally as KTM or the tri-city. According to the 2011 census, Kathmandu Metropolitan City has a population of 1,003,285 and measures 49.45 km2 (19.09 sq mi).[5]

The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal.[6] It is surrounded by four major hills: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Kathmandu Valley is part of three districts (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur), has the highest population density in the country, and is home to about a twelfth of Nepal's population.

Historically, the Kathmandu Valley and adjoining areas were known as Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, were established.[7] During the Rana and Shah eras, British historians called the valley itself "Nepal Proper". Today, Kathmandu is not only the capital of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, but also the headquarters of the Bagmati Zone.[8]

Kathmandu is the gateway to tourism in Nepal. It is also the hub of the country's economy. It has the most advanced infrastructure of any urban area in Nepal, and its economy is focused on tourism, which accounted for 3.8% of Nepal's GDP in 1995/96. Tourism in Kathmandu declined thereafter during a period of political unrest, but since then has improved. In 2013, Kathmandu was ranked third among the top 10 travel destinations on the rise in the world by TripAdvisor, and ranked first in Asia.[9]

The city has a rich history, spanning nearly 2000 years, as inferred from inscriptions found in the valley. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Most of Kathmandu's people follow Hinduism and many others follow Buddhism. There are people of other religious beliefs as well, giving Kathmandu a cosmopolitan culture. Nepali is the most commonly spoken language in the city. English is understood by Kathmandu's educated residents. Historic areas of Kathmandu were devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April 2015.


Kasthamandap before earthquake

The city of Kathmandu is named after Kasthamandap temple, that stood in Durbar Square. In Sanskrit, Kāṣṭha (काष्ठ) means "wood" and Maṇḍap (/मण्डप) means "covered shelter". This temple, also known as Maru Satal in the Newar language, was built in 1596 by Biseth in the period of King Laxmi Narsingh Malla. The two-story structure was made entirely of wood, and used no iron nails nor supports. According to legend, all the timber used to build the pagoda was obtained from a single tree.[10] The structure collapsed during the major earthquake on 25 April 2015.

The colophons of ancient manuscripts, dated as late as the 20th century, refer to Kathmandu as Kāṣṭhamaṇḍap Mahānagar in Nepal Mandala. Mahānagar means "great city". The city is called "Kāṣṭhamaṇḍap" in a vow that Buddhist priests still recite to this day. Thus, Kathmandu is also known as Kāṣṭhamaṇḍap. During medieval times, the city was sometimes called Kāntipur (कान्तिपुर). This name is derived from two Sanskrit words - Kānti and pur. "Kānti" is a word that stands for "beauty" and is mostly associated with light and "pur" means place. Thus, giving it a meaning as "City of light".

Among the indigenous Newar people, Kathmandu is known as Yeṃ Deśa (येँ देश), and Patan and Bhaktapur are known as Yala Deśa (यल देश) and Khwopa Deśa (ख्वप देश).[11] "Yen" is the shorter form of Yambu (यम्बु), which originally referred to the northern half of Kathmandu.[12]


Manjushree, with Chandrahrasa, the Buddhist deity said to have created the valley

Archaeological excavations in parts of Kathmandu have found evidence of ancient civilizations. The oldest of these findings is a statue, found in Maligaon, that was dated at 185 AD.[13] The excavation of Dhando Chaitya uncovered a brick with an inscription in Brahmi script. Archaeologists believe it is two thousand years old.[13] Stone inscriptions are a ubiquitous element at heritage sites and are key sources for the history of Nepal.

The earliest Western reference to Kathmandu appears in an account of Jesuit Fathers Johann Grueber and Albert d'Orville. In 1661, they passed through Nepal on their way from Tibet to India, and reported that they reached "Cadmendu", the capital of Nepal kingdom.[14]

Ancient history

The ancient history of Kathmandu is described in its traditional myths and legends. According to Swayambhu Purana, present-day Kathmandu was once a huge and deep lake named "Nagdaha", as it was full of snakes. The lake was cut drained by Bodhisatwa Manjusri with his sword, and the water was evacuated out from there. He then established a city called Manjupattan, and made Dharmakar the ruler of the valley land. After sometimes, a demon named Banasur closed the outlet, and the valley was again a lake. Then lord Krishna came to Nepal, killed Banasur, and again drained out the water. He has brought some Gops with him and made Bhuktaman the king of Nepal.[15][16][17]

Kotirudra Samhita of Shiva Purana, Chapter 11, shloka 18 refers to the place as Nayapala city, which was famous for its Pashupati Shivalinga. The name Nepal probably originates from this city Nayapala.

Very few historical records exist of the period before the medieval Licchavis rulers. According to Gopalraj Vansawali, a genealogy of Nepali monarchs, the rulers of Kathmandu Valley before the Licchavis were Gopalas, Mahispalas, Aabhirs, Kirants, and Somavanshi.[17][18] The Kirata dynasty was established by Yalamber. During the Kirata era, a settlement called Yambu existed in the northern half of old Kathmandu. In some of the Sino-Tibetan languages, Kathmandu is still called Yambu. Another smaller settlement called Yengal was present in the southern half of old Kathmandu, near Manjupattan. During the reign of the seventh Kirata ruler, Jitedasti, Buddhist monks entered Kathmandu valley and established a forest monastery at Sankhu.

Map of Kathmandu, 1802

Licchavi era

The Licchavis from the Indo-Gangetic plain migrated north and defeated the Kiratas, establishing the Licchavi dynasty, circa 400 AD. During this era, following the genocide of Shakyas in Lumbini by Virudhaka, the survivors migrated north and entered the forest monastery in Sankhu masquerading as Koliyas. From Sankhu, they migrated to Yambu and Yengal (Lanjagwal and Manjupattan) and established the first permanent Buddhist monasteries of Kathmandu. This created the basis of Newar Buddhism, which is the only surviving Sanskrit-based Buddhist tradition in the world.[19] With their migration, Yambu was called Koligram and Yengal was called Dakshin Koligram[20] during most of the Licchavi era.[21]

Eventually, the Licchavi ruler Gunakamadeva merged Koligram and Dakshin Koligram, founding the city of Kathmandu.[21] The city was designed in the shape of Chandrahrasa, the sword of Manjushri. The city was surrounded by eight barracks guarded by Ajimas. One of these barracks is still in use at Bhadrakali (in front of Singha Durbar). The city served as an important transit point in the trade between India and Tibet, leading to tremendous growth in architecture. Descriptions of buildings such as Managriha, Kailaskut Bhawan, and Bhadradiwas Bhawan have been found in the surviving journals of travelers and monks who lived during this era. For example, the famous 7th-century Chinese traveller Xuanzang described Kailaskut Bhawan, the palace of the Licchavi king Amshuverma.[22] The trade route also led to cultural exchange as well. The artistry of the Newar people—the indigenous inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley—became highly sought after during this era, both within the Valley and throughout the greater Himalayas. Newar artists travelled extensively throughout Asia, creating religious art for their neighbors. For example, Araniko led a group of his compatriot artists through Tibet and China. Bhrikuti, the princess of Nepal who married Tibetan monarch Songtsän Gampo, was instrumental in introducing Buddhism to Tibet.

Malla era

Taleju Bhawani Temple, the temple of the Malla clan's deity.

The Licchavi era was followed by the Malla era. Rulers from Tirhut, upon being attacked by Muslims, fled north to the Kathmandu valley. They intermarried with Nepali royalty, and this led to the Malla era. The early years of the Malla era were turbulent, with raids and attacks from Khas and Turk Muslims. There was also a devastating earthquake which claimed the lives of a third of Kathmandu's population, including the king Abhaya Malla. These disasters led to the destruction of most of the architecture of the Licchavi era (such as Mangriha and Kailashkut Bhawan), and the loss of literature collected in various monasteries within the city. Despite the initial hardships, Kathmandu rose to prominence again and, during most of the Malla era, dominated the trade between India and Tibet. Nepali currency became the standard currency in trans-Himalayan trade.

During the later part of the Malla era, Kathmandu Valley comprised four fortified cities: Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kirtipur. These served as the capitals of the Malla confederation of Nepal. These states competed with each other in the arts, architecture, aesthetics, and trade, resulting in tremendous development. The kings of this period directly influenced or involved themselves in the construction of public buildings, squares, and temples, as well as the development of water spouts, the institutionalization of trusts (called guthis), the codification of laws, the writing of dramas, and the performance of plays in city squares. Evidence of an influx of ideas from India, Tibet, China, Persia, and Europe among other places can be found in a stone inscription from the time of king Pratap Malla. Books have been found from this era that describe their tantric tradition (e.g. Tantrakhyan), medicine (e.g. Haramekhala), religion (e.g. Mooldevshashidev), law, morals, and history. Amarkosh, a Sanskrit-Nepal Bhasa dictionary from 1381 AD, was also found. Architecturally notable buildings from this era include Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the former durbar of Kirtipur, Nyatapola, Kumbheshwar, the Krishna temple, and others.

Modern era

Garden of Dreams, a Western styled garden built during the modern era
Narayanhiti Palace Museum

Early Shah rule

The Gorkha Kingdom ended the Malla confederation after the Battle of Kathmandu in 1768. This marked the beginning of the modern era in Kathmandu. The Battle of Kirtipur was the start of the Gorkha conquest of the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu was adopted as the capital of the Gorkha empire, and the empire itself was dubbed Nepal. During the early part of this era, Kathmandu maintained its distinctive culture. Buildings with characteristic Nepali architecture, such as the nine-story tower of Basantapur, were built during this era. However, trade declined because of continual war with neighboring nations. Bhimsen Thapa supported France against Great Britain; this led to the development of modern military structures, such as modern barracks in Kathmandu. The nine-storey tower Dharahara was originally built during this era.

Rana rule

Rana rule over Nepal started with the Kot Massacre, which occurred near Hanuman Dhoka Durbar. During this massacre, most of Nepal's high-ranking officials were massacred by Jang Bahadur Rana and his supporters. Another massacre, the Bhandarkhal Massacre, was also conducted by Kunwar and his supporters in Kathmandu. During the Rana regime, Kathmandu's alliance shifted from anti-British to pro-British; this led to the construction of the first buildings in the style of Western European architecture. The most well-known of these buildings include Singha Durbar, Garden of Dreams, Shital Niwas, and the old Narayanhiti palace.The first modern commercial road in the Kathmandu Valley, the New Road, was also built during this era. Trichandra College (the first college of Nepal), Durbar School (the first modern school of Nepal), and Bir Hospital (the first hospital of Nepal) were built in Kathmandu during this era. Rana rule was marked by despotism, economic exploitation and religious persecution.[23][24]


Map of central Kathmandu
Urban expansion in Kathmandu

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.[6] 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.[25][26][27] 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.[28]

The green, vegetated slopes that surround the Kathmandu metro area (light gray, image centre) include both forest reserves and national parks.

Kathmandu administration

Kathmandu and adjacent cities are composed of neighborhoods, which are utilized quite extensively and more familiar among locals. However, administratively the city is divided into 35 wards, numbered from 1 to 35.[29]

Kathmandu agglomeration

There is no officially defined agglomeration of Kathmandu. The urban area of the Kathmandu valley is split among three different districts (collections of local government units within a zone) which extend very little beyond the valley fringe, except towards the southern ranges, which have comparatively small population. They have the three highest population densities in the country. Within these 3 districts lie VDCs (villages), 20 municipalities (nagarpalika), 1 sub-metropolitan municipality (up-maha nagarpalika: Lalitpur), and 1 metropolitan municipality (maha-nagarpalika: Kathmandu). The following data table describes these districts which likely would be considered an agglomeration:

Administrative district (Nepali: जिल्ला; jillā) Area (km²) Population (2001 Census) Population (2011 Census) Population density (/km²)
Kathmandu District 395 1,081,845 1,740,977 4408
Lalitpur District 385 337,785 466,784 1212
Bhaktapur District 119 225,461 303,027 2546
Kathmandu agglomeration 899 1,645,091 2,510,788 2793


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

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 January 10, 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%.[25][30][31] 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.[31] 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.

Climate data for Kathmandu (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.4
Average high °C (°F) 19.1
Average low °C (°F) 2.4
Record low °C (°F) −2.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 14.4
Average precipitation days 2 3 4 6 12 17 23 22 15 4 1 1 110
Average relative humidity (%) 79 71 61 53 57 73 81 83 82 79 85 80 74
Mean monthly sunshine hours 223 254 260 231 229 186 136 159 132 252 244 250 2,556
Source #1: Department of Hydrology and Meteorology ,[32] World Meteorological Organization (precipitation days)[33]
Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun and relative humidity),[34] Sistema de Clasificación Bioclimática Mundial (extremes) [35]


Nepal Telecom complex near Dharahara Tower (Dharahara was destroyed in the Magnitude 7.8 April 2015 Nepal earthquake.

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.[36] Other traditional occupations are farming, metal casting, woodcarving, painting, weaving, and pottery.[37]

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.[37]

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.[38] Kathmandu exports handicrafts, artworks, garments, carpets, pashmina, paper; trade accounts for 21% of its finances.[37][38] Manufacturing is also important and accounts for 19% of the revenue that Kathmandu generates. Garments and woolen carpets are the most notable manufactured products.[38] Other economic sectors in Kathmandu include agriculture (9%), education (6%), transport (6%), and hotels and restaurants (5%).[38] Kathmandu is famous for lokta paper and pashmina shawls.


View of Himalayas from Kathmandu valley

Tourism is considered another important industry in Nepal. This industry started around 1950, as the country's political makeup changed and ended the country's isolation from the rest of the world. In 1956, air transportation was established and the Tribhuvan Highway, between Kathmandu and Raxaul (at India's border), was started. Separate organizations were created in Kathmandu to promote this activity; some of these include the Tourism Development Board, the Department of Tourism and the Civil Aviation Department. Furthermore, Nepal became a member of several international tourist associations. Establishing diplomatic relations with other nations further accentuated this activity. The hotel industry, travel agencies, training of tourist guides, and targeted publicity campaigns are the chief reasons for the remarkable growth of this industry in Nepal, and in Kathmandu in particular.[39]

Since then, tourism in Nepal has thrived; it is the country's most important industry. Tourism is a major source of income for most of the people in the city, with several hundred thousand visitors annually. Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world visit Kathmandu's religious sites such as Pashupatinath, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and Budhanilkantha. From a mere 6,179 tourists in 1961/62, the number increased to 491,504 in 1999/2000. Following the end of the Maoist insurgency, there was a significant rise of 509,956 tourist arrivals in 2009. Since then, tourism has improved as the country turned into a Democratic Republic. In economic terms, the foreign exchange registered 3.8% of the GDP in 1995/96 but then started declining. The high level of tourism is attributed to the natural grandeur of the Himalayas and the rich cultural heritage of the country.[39]

The neighbourhood of Thamel is Kathmandu's primary "traveller's ghetto", packed with guest houses, restaurants, shops, and bookstores, catering to tourists. Another neighbourhood of growing popularity is Jhamel, a name for Jhamsikhel coined to rhyme with Thamel.[40] Jhochhen Tol, also known as Freak Street, is Kathmandu's original traveler's haunt, made popular by the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s; it remains a popular alternative to Thamel. Asan is a bazaar and ceremonial square on the old trade route to Tibet, and provides a fine example of a traditional neighbourhood.

With the opening of the tourist industry after the change in the political scenario of Nepal in 1950, the hotel industry drastically improved.[41] Now Kathmandu boasts several luxury such as the Hyatt Regency, Dwarika's, theYak & Yeti, The Everest Hotel, Hotel Radisson, Hotel De L'Annapurna, The Malla Hotel, Shangri-La Hotel (which is not operated by the Shangri-La Hotel Group) and The Shanker Hotel. There are several four-star hotels such as Hotel Vaishali, Hotel Narayani, The Blue Star and Grand Hotel. The Garden Hotel, Hotel Ambassador, and Aloha Inn are among the three-star hotels in Kathmandu. Hotels like Hyatt Regency, De L'Annapurna and Hotel Yak & Yeti are among the five-star hotels providing casinos as well.[42]

Government and public services

Civic administration

The residence of the President of Nepal
Singha Durbar, the Prime Minister's office and other Ministries
BICC, the seat of the Nepalese Constituent Assembly

Kathmandu Municipal Corporation, abbreviated KMC, is the chief nodal agency for the administration of Kathmandu. The Municipality of Kathmandu was upgraded to incorporated in 1994.

Metropolitan Kathmandu is divided into five sectors: the Central Sector, the East Sector, the North Sector, the City Core and the West Sector. For civic administration, the city is further divided into 35 administrative wards. The Council administers the Metropolitan area of Kathmandu city through its 177 elected representatives and 20 nominated members. It holds biannual meetings to review, process and approve the annual budget and make major policy decisions.[25][43] The ward's profile documents for the 35 wards prepared by the Kathmandu Metropolitan Council is detailed and provides information for each ward on population, the structure and condition of houses, the type of roads, educational, health and financial institutions, entertainment facilities, parking space, security provisions, etc. It also includes lists of development projects completed, on-going and planned, along with informative data about the cultural heritage, festivals, historical sites and the local inhabitants. Ward 16 is the largest, with an area of 437.4 ha; ward 26 is the smallest, with an area of 4 ha.[44]

Kathmandu is headquarters of the surrounding Kathmandu District. The city of Kathmandu forms this district with Kirtipur Municipality and some 57 Village Development Committees. According to the 2001 census, there are 235,387 households in the metropolitan city.

Law and order

The Metropolitan Police is the main law enforcement agency in the city. It is headed by a commissioner of police. The Metropolitan Police is a division of the Nepal Police, and the administrative control lies with the National Home Ministry.

Fire service

The fire service, known as the Barun Yantra Karyalaya, opened its first station in Kathmandu in 1937 with a single vehicle.[45] An iron tower was erected to monitor the city and watch for fire. As a precautionary measure, firemen were sent to the areas which were designated as accident-prone areas.[45] In 1944, the fire service was extended to the neighboring cities of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. In 1966, a fire service was established in Kathmandu airport.[45] In 1975, a West German government donation added seven fire engines to Kathmandu's fire service.[45] The fire service in the city is also overlooked by an international non-governmental organization, the Firefighters Volunteer Association of Nepal (FAN), which was established in 2000 with the purpose of raising public awareness about fire and improving safety.[45]

Electricity and water supply

Electricity in Kathmandu is regulated and distributed by the NEA Nepal Electricity Authority. While water supply and sanitation facilities are provided by the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL). There is a severe shortage of water for household purposes such as drinking, bathing, cooking and washing. People have been using mineral water bottle and mineral water tanks for all the purposes related to water.

Waste management

There is no proper waste management in Kathmandu, so rubbish piles up on roads, pavements and in waterways.[46]

Waste management may be through composting in municipal waste management units, and at houses with home composting units. Both systems are common and established in India and neighbouring countries.


Kathmandu's urban cosmopolitan character has made it the most populous city in Nepal, recording a population of 671,846 residents living in 235,387 households in the metropolitan area, according to the 2001 census.[47] According to the National Population Census of 2011, the total population of Kathmandu city was 975,543 with an annual growth rate of 6.12% with respect to the population figure of 2001. 70% of the total population residing in Kathmandu are aged between 15 and 59.

Over the years the city has been home to people of various ethnicities, resulting in a range of different traditions and cultural practices. In one decade, the population increased from 427,045 in 1991 to 671,805 in 2001. The population was projected to reach 915,071 in 2011 and 1,319,597 by 2021. To keep up this population growth, the KMC-controlled area of 5,076.6 hectares (12,545 acres) has expanded to 8,214 hectares (20,300 acres) in 2001. With this new area, the population density which was 85 in 1991 is still 85 in 2001; it is likely to jump to 111 in 2011 and 161 in 2021.[48]

Ethnic groups

The largest ethnic groups are Newar (29.6%), Mongoloid (25.1% Kirat, Gurung, Magars, Tamang, Sherpa etc.), Khas Brahmins (20.51%), and Chettris (18.5%).[49] Tamangs originating from surrounding hill districts can be seen in Kathmandu. More recently, other hill ethnic groups and Caste groups from Terai have come to represent a substantial proportion of the city's population. The major languages are Nepali and Nepal Bhasa, while English is understood by many, particularly in the service industry. The major religions are Hinduism and Buddhism.

The linguistic profile of Kathmandu underwent drastic changes during the Shah dynasty's rule because of its strong bias towards the Brahminic culture. Sanskrit language therefore was preferred and people were encouraged to learn it even by attending Sanskrit learning centers in Terai. Sanskrit schools were specially set up in Kathmandu and in the Terai region to inculcate traditional Hindu culture and practices originated from Nepal.[50]

Architecture and cityscape

Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site (WHS) Seven Monuments and Buildings

Kathmandu Durbar Square in 1920• Kathmandu Durbar Square in 2007
Pashupatinath • Changunarayan
Swayambhunath •Boudhanath
Patan Durbar • Bhaktapur Durbar

The ancient trade route between India and Tibet that passed through Kathmandu enabled a fusion of artistic and architectural traditions from other cultures to be amalgamated with local art and architecture.[51] The monuments of Kathmandu City have been influenced over the centuries by Hindu and Buddhist religious practices. The architectural treasure of the Kathmandu valley has been categorized under the well-known seven groups of heritage monuments and buildings. In 2006 UNESCO declared these seven groups of monuments as a World Heritage Site (WHS). The seven monuments zones cover an area of 189 hectares (470 acres), with the buffer zone extending to 2,394 hectares (5,920 acres). The Seven Monument Zones (Mzs) inscribed originally in 1979 and with a minor modification in 2006 are Durbar squares of Hanuman Dhoka, Patan and Bhaktapur, Hindu temples of Pashupatinath and Changunarayan, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Boudhanath.[52][53]

Durbar squares

The literal meaning of Durbar Square is a "place of palaces". There are three preserved Durbar Squares in Kathmandu valley and one unpreserved in Kirtipur. The Durbar Square of Kathmandu is in the old city and has heritage buildings representing four kingdoms (Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur); the earliest is the Licchavi dynasty. The complex has 50 temples and is distributed in two quadrangles of the Durbar Square. The outer quadrangle has the Kasthamandap, Kumari Ghar, and Shiva-Parvati Temple; the inner quadrangle has the Hanuman Dhoka palace. The squares were severely damaged in the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Hanuman Dhoka is a complex of structures with the Royal Palace of the Malla kings and of the Shah dynasty. It is spread over five acres. The eastern wing, with ten courtyards, is the oldest part, dating to the mid-16th century. It was expanded by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century with many temples. The royal family lived in this palace until 1886 when they moved to Narayanhiti Palace. The stone inscription outside is in fifteen languages.[54]

Kumari Ghar is a palace in the center of the Kathmandu city, next to the Durbar square where a Royal Kumari selected from several Kumaris resides. Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshipping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in South Asian countries. In Nepal the selection process is very rigorous. Kumari is believed to be the bodily incarnation of the goddess Taleju (the Nepali name for Durga) until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, age four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy.[55]

Kasthamandap is a three-storeyed temple enshrining an image of Gorakhnath. It was built in the 16th century in pagoda style. The name of Kathmandu is a derivative of the word Kasthamandap. It was built under the reign of King Laxmi Narsingha Malla. Kasthamandap stands at the intersection of two ancient trade routes linking India and Tibet at Maru square. It was originally built as a rest house for travelers.

Pashupatinath temple

Main article: Pashupatinath temple

The Pashupatinath Temple is a famous 5th century Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (Pashupati). On the banks of the Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu, Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu.[56] It served as the seat of national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, until Nepal was secularized. However, a significant part of the temple was destroyed by Mughal invaders in the 14th century and little or nothing remains of the original 5th-century temple exterior. The temple as it stands today was built in the 19th century, although the image of the bull and the black four-headed image of Pashupati are at least 300 years old.[57] The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[57][58] Shivaratri, or the night of Lord Shiva, is the most important festival that takes place here, attracting thousands of devotees and sadhus.

Believers in Pashupatinath (mainly Hindus) are allowed to enter the temple premises, but non-Hindu visitors are allowed to view the temple only from the across the Bagmati River.[57] The priests who perform the services at this temple have been Brahmins from Karnataka, South India since the time of Malla king Yaksha Malla.[59] This tradition is believed to have been started at the request of Adi Shankaracharya who sought to unify the states of Bharatam (Unified India) by encouraging cultural exchange. This procedure is followed in other temples around India, which were sanctified by Adi Shankaracharya.

The temple is built in the pagoda style of architecture, with cubic constructions, carved wooden rafters (tundal) on which they rest, and two-level roofs made of copper and gold.


Buildings around Boudha Stupa

The Boudhanath, (also written Bouddhanath, Bodhnath, Baudhanath or the Khāsa Chaitya), is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal, along with Swayambhu. It is a very popular tourist site. Boudhanath is known as Khāsti by Newars and as Bauddha or Bodhnāth by speakers of Nepali.[60] About 11 km (7 mi) from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa's massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.[61] Boudhanath became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Boudhanath Stupa, one of the largest in Nepal

The base of the stupa has 108 small depictions of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha. It is surrounded with a brick wall with 147 niches, each with four or five prayer wheels engraved with the mantra, om mani padme hum.[62] At the northern entrance where visitors must pass is a shrine dedicated to Ajima, the goddess of smallpox.[62] Every year the stupa attracts many Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims who perform full body prostrations in the inner lower enclosure, walk around the stupa with prayer wheels, chant, and pray.[62] Thousands of prayer flags are hoisted up from the top of the stupa downwards and dot the perimeter of the complex. The influx of many Tibetan refugees from China has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan gompas (monasteries) around Boudhanath.


Main article: Swayambhunath

Swayambhu is a Buddhist stupa atop a hillock at the northwestern part of the city. This is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. Although the site is considered Buddhist, it is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. The stupa consists of a dome at the base; above the dome, there is a cubic structure with the eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions. There are pentagonal Toran above each of the four sides, with statues engraved on them. Behind and above the torana there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers, there is a small space above which lies a gajur.

Rani Pokhari

Main article: Ranipokhari

Ranipokhari is a historic artificial pond in the heart of Kathmandu. It was built by king Pratap Mall in 1670 AD. A large stone statue of an elephant in south signifies the image of Pratap Malla and his two sons. Rani Pokhari is opened once a year during the final day of Tihar i.e. Bhai Tika and Chhath festival. The world largest Chhath takes place every year in Ranipokhari. The pond is one of Kathmandu's most famous landmarks and is known for its religious and aesthetic significance.


Stone carvings, called Chaityas, seen in street corners and courtyards
Main article: Culture of Kathmandu


Kathmandu valley is described as "an enormous treasure house of art and sculptures", which are made of wood, stone, metal, and terracotta, and found in profusion in temples, shrines, stupas, gompas, chaityasm and palaces. The art objects are also seen in street corners, lanes, private courtyards and in open ground. Most art is in the form of icons of gods and goddesses. Kathmandu valley has had this art treasure for a very long time, but received worldwide recognition only after the country opened to the outside world in 1950.[50]

The religious art of Nepal and Kathmandu in particular consists of an iconic symbolism of the Mother Goddesses such as: Bhavani, Durga, Gaja-Lakshmi, Hariti-Sitala, Mahsishamardini, Saptamatrika (seven mother goddesses), and Sri-Lakshmi(wealth-goddess). From the 3rd century BC, apart from the Hindu gods and goddesses, Buddhist monuments from the Ashokan period (it is said that Ashoka visited Nepal in 250 BC) have embellished Nepal in general and the valley in particular. These art and architectural edifices encompass three major periods of evolution: the Licchavi or classical period (500 to 900 AD), the post-classical period (1000 to 1400 AD), with strong influence of the Palla art form; the Malla period (1400 onwards) that exhibited explicitly tantric influences coupled with the art of Tibetan Demonology.[63]

A broad typology has been ascribed to the decorative designs and carvings created by the people of Nepal. These artists have maintained a blend of Hinduism and Buddhism. The typology, based on the type of material used are: stone art, metal art, wood art, terracotta art, and painting.[64]


Courtyard of the Taragaon Museum, Boudhnath, Kathmandu, Nepal
Narayanhiti Palace Museum

Kathmandu is home to a number of museums and art galleries, including the National Museum of Nepal and the Natural History Museum of Nepal. Nepal's art and architecture is an amalgamation of two ancient religions, Hinduism and Buddhhism. These are amply reflected in the many temples, shrines, stupas, monasteries, and palaces in the seven well-defined Monument Zones of the Kathmandu valley are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This amalgamation is also reflected in the planning and exhibitions in museums and art galleries throughout Kathmandu and its sister cities of Patan and Bhaktapur. The museums display unique artifacts and paintings from the 5th century CE to the present day, including archeological exportation.[65]

Kathmandu museums and art galleries include:[65]

National Museum of Nepal

The National Museum is in the western part of Kathmandu, near the Swayambhunath stupa in an historical building. This building was constructed in the early 19th century by General Bhimsen Thapa. It is the most important museum in the country, housing an extensive collection of weapons, art and antiquities of historic and cultural importance.[66] The museum was established in 1928 as a collection house of war trophies and weapons, and the initial name of this museum was Chhauni Silkhana, meaning "the stone house of arms and ammunition". Given its focus, the museum contains many weapons, including locally made firearms used in wars, leather cannons from the 18th–19th century, and medieval and modern works in wood, bronze, stone and paintings.[66]

The Natural History Museum is in the southern foothills of Swayambhunath hill and has a sizeable collection of different species of animals, butterflies, and plants. The museum is noted for its display of species, from prehistoric shells to stuffed animals.[66]

The Tribhuvan Museum contains artifacts related to the King Tribhuvan (1906–1955). It has a variety of pieces including his personal belongings, letters and papers, memorabilia related to events he was involved in and a rare collection of photos and paintings of Royal family members.[66] The Mahendra Museum is dedicated to king Mahendra of Nepal (1920–1972). Like the Tribhuvan Museum, it includes his personal belongings such as decorations, stamps, coins and personal notes and manuscripts, but it also has structural reconstructions of his cabinet room and office chamber.[66] The Hanumandhoka Palace, a lavish medieval palace complex in the Durbar, contains three separate museums of historic importance. These museums include the Birendra museum, which contains items related to the second-last monarch, Birendra of Nepal.[66]

The enclosed compound of the Narayanhity Palace Museum is in the north-central part of Kathmandu. "Narayanhity" comes from Narayana, a form of the Hindu god Lord Vishnu, and Hiti, meaning "water spout" (Vishnu's temple is opposite the palace, and the water spout is east of the main entrance to the precinct). Narayanhity was a new palace, in front of the old palace built in 1915, and was built in 1970 in the form of a contemporary Pagoda. It was built on the occasion of the marriage of King Birenda Bir Bikram Shah, then heir apparent to the throne. The southern gate of the palace is at the crossing of Prithvipath and Darbar Marg roads. The palace area covers (30 hectares (74 acres)) and is fully secured with gates on all sides.[67][68][69] This palace was the scene of the Nepali royal massacre. After the fall of the monarchy, it was converted to a museum.

The Taragaon Museum presents the modern history of the Kathmandu Valley.[70] It seeks to document 50 years of research and cultural heritage conservation of the Kathmandu Valley, documenting what artists photographers architects anthropologists from abroad had contributed in the second half of the 20th century. The actual structure of the Museum showcases restoration and rehabilitation efforts to preserve the built heritage of Kathmandu. It was designed by Carl Pruscha (master-planner of the Kathmandy Valley [71]) in 1970 and constructed in 1971.[72] Restoration works began in 2010 to rehabilitate the Taragaon hostel into the Taragaon Museum. The design uses local brick along with modern architectural design elements, as well as the use of circle, triangles and squares.[71] The Museum is within a short walk from the Boudhnath stupa, which itself can be seen from the Museum tower.

Art galleries

A Buddhist statue display in Kathmandu

Kathmandu is a center for art in Nepal, displaying the work of contemporary artists in the country and also collections of historical artists. Patan in particular is an ancient city noted for its fine arts and crafts. Art in Kathmandu is vibrant, demonstrating a fusion of traditionalism and modern art, derived from a great number of national, Asian, and global influences. Nepali art is commonly divided into two areas: the idealistic traditional painting known as Paubhas in Nepal and perhaps more commonly known as Thangkas in Tibet, closely linked to the country's religious history and on the other hand the contemporary western-style painting, including nature-based compositions or abstract artwork based on Tantric elements and social themes of which painters in Nepal are well noted for.[66] Internationally, the British-based charity, the Kathmandu Contemporary Art Centre is involved with promoting arts in Kathmandu.[73]

Kathmandu contains many notable art galleries. The NAFA Gallery, operated by the Arts and crafts Department of the Nepal Academy is housed in Sita Bhavan, a neo-classical old Rana palace.[66]

The Srijana Contemporary Art Gallery, inside the Bhrikutimandap Exhibition grounds, hosts the work of contemporary painters and sculptors, and regularly organizes exhibitions. It also runs morning and evening classes in the schools of art.[66] Also of note is the Moti Azima Gallery, in a three-storied building in Bhimsenthan which contains an impressive collection of traditional utensils and handmade dolls and items typical of a medieval Newar house, giving an important insight into Nepali history.[66] The J Art Gallery is also in Kathmandu, near the Royal Palace in Durbarmarg, Kathmandu and displays the artwork of eminent, established Nepali painters. The Nepal Art Council Gallery, in the Babar Mahal, on the way to Tribhuvan International Airport contains artwork of both national and international artists and extensive halls regularly used for art exhibitions.[66]


Asa Archives

The National Library of Nepal is in Patan. It is the largest library in the country with more than 70,000 books. English, Nepali, Sanskrit, Hindi, and Nepal Bhasa books are found here.[66] The library is in possession of rare scholarly books in Sanskrit and English dating from the 17th century AD. Kathmandu also contains the Kaiser Library, in the Kaiser Mahal on the ground floor of the Ministry of Education building. This collection of around 45,000 books is derived from a personal collection of Kaiser Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.[66] It covers a wide range of subjects including history, law, art, religion, and philosophy, as well as a Sanskrit manual of Tantra, which is believed to be over 1,000 years old.[66] The 2015 earthquake caused severe damage to the Ministry of Education building, and the contents of the Kaiser Library have been temporarily relocated.

The Asa Archives are also noteworthy. They specialize in medieval history and religious traditions of the Kathmandu Valley. The archives, in Kulambhulu, have a collection of some 6,000 loose-leaf handwritten books and 1,000 palm-leaf manuscripts (mostly in Sanskrit or Nepal Bhasa) and a manuscript dated to 1464.[66]

Cinema and theatre

Kathmandu is home to Nepali cinema and theaters. The city contains several theaters, including the National Dance Theatre in Kanti Path, the Ganga Theatre, the Himalayan Theatre and the Aarohan Theater Group founded in 1982. The M. Art Theater is based in the city. The Gurukul School of Theatre organizes the Kathmandu International Theater Festival, attracting artists from all over the world.[74] A mini theater is also at the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, established by the Durbar Conservation and Promotion Committee.

Kathmandu has a number of movie theatres (old single screen establishments and some new multiplexes) showing Nepali, Bollywood, and Hollywood films. Some old establishments include Vishwajyoti Cinema Hall, Jai Nepal Hall, Kumari Cinema Hall, Gopi Krishna Cinema Hall and Guna Cinema Hall. Kathmandu also houses some international standard cinema theatres and multiplexes, such as QFX Cinemas, Cine De Chef, Fcube Cinemas, Q's Cinemas and Big Movies.


Traditional Buddhist musical performance during Gunla.

Kathmandu is the centre of music and dance in Nepal, and these art forms are integral to understanding the city. Musical performances are organized in cultural venues. Music is a part of the traditional aspect of Kathmandu. Gunla is the traditional music festival according to Nepal Sambat. Newar music originated in Kathmandu. Furthermore, music from all over Nepal can be found in Kathmandu.

A number of hippies visited Kathmandu during the 1970s and introduced rock and roll, rock, and jazz to the city. Kathmandu is noted internationally for its jazz festival, popularly known as Jazzmandu. It is the only jazz festival in the Himalayan region and was established in March 2002. The festival attracts musicians from countries worldwide, such as Australia, Denmark, United States, Benin, and India.

The city has been referenced in numerous songs, including works by Cat Stevens ('Katmandu', Mona Bone Jakon (1970)), Bob Seger ('Katmandu', Beautiful Loser (1975)), Rush ('A Passage to Bangkok', Pulling into Kathmandu; 2112, 1976), Krematorij ('Kathmandu', Three Springs (2000)) and Fito Páez (Tráfico por Katmandú – "Traffic through Kathmandu").


A typical Nepali meal Dal bhat in Kathmandu

The staple food of most people in Kathmandu is dal bhat. This consists of rice and lentil soup, generally served with vegetable curries, achar and sometimes Chutney. Momo, a type of Nepali version of Tibetan dumpling, has become prominent in Nepal with many street vendors selling it. It is one of the most popular fast foods in Kathmandu. Various Nepali variants of momo including buff (i.e. buffalo) momo, chicken momo, and vegetarian momo are famous in Kathmandu.

Most of the cuisines found in Kathmandu are non-vegetarian. However, the practice of vegetarianism is not uncommon, and vegetarian cuisines can be found throughout the city. Consumption of beef is very uncommon and considered taboo in many places. Buff (meat of water buffalo) is very common. There is a strong tradition of buff consumption in Kathmandu, especially among Newars, which is not found in other parts of Nepal. Consumption of pork was considered taboo until a few decades ago. Due to the intermixing with Kirat cuisine from eastern Nepal, pork has found a place in Kathmandu dishes. A fringe population of devout Hindus and Muslims consider it taboo. The Muslims forbid eating buff as from Quran while Hindus eat all varieties except Cow's meat as they consider Cow to be a goddess and symbol of purity. The chief breakfast for locals and visitors is mostly Momo or Chowmein.

Kathmandu had only one western-style restaurant in 1955.[75] A large number of restaurants in Kathmandu have since opened, catering Nepali cuisine, Tibetan cuisine, Chinese cuisine and Indian cuisine in particular. Many other restaurants have opened to accommodate locals, expatriates, and tourists. The growth of tourism in Kathmandu has led to culinary creativity and the development of hybrid foods to accommodate for tourists such as American chop suey, which is a sweet-and-sour sauce with crispy noodles with a fried egg commonly added on top and other westernized adaptations of traditional cuisine.[75] Continental cuisine can be found in selected places. International chain restaurants are rare, but some outlets of Pizza Hut and KFC have recently opened there. It also has several outlets of the international ice-cream chain Baskin-Robbins[76]

Kathmandu has a larger proportion of tea drinkers than coffee drinkers. Tea is widely served but is extremely weak by western standards. It is richer and contains tea leaves boiled with milk, sugar and spices. Alcohol is widely drunk, and there are numerous local variants of alcoholic beverages. Drinking and driving is illegal, and authorities have a zero tolerance policy.[77] Ailaa and thwon (alcohol made from rice) are the alcoholic beverages of Kathmandu, found in all the local bhattis (alcohol serving eateries). Chhyaang, tongba (fermented millet or barley) and rakshi are alcoholic beverages from other parts of Nepal which are found in Kathmandu. However, shops and bars in Kathmandu widely sell western and Nepali beers.

Samyak, a Buddhist festival during which statues of Buddhas from the ancient monasteries are displayed together. Note the statue of Hanuman next to the Buddhas in the picture, a common example of religious harmony in Kathmandu.


President of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadav observing the street festival of Yenya, which literally means "festival of Kathmandu".
Nepali Lakhe dancer.
View of Kathmandu valley from Halchowk hill in Dipawali 2013

Most of the fairs and festivals in Kathmandu originated in the Malla period or earlier. Traditionally, these festivals were celebrated by Newars. In recent years, these festivals have found wider participation from other Kathmanduites as well. As the capital of the Republic of Nepal, various national festivals are celebrated in Kathmandu. With mass migration to the city, the cultures of Khas from the west, Kirats from the east, Bon/Tibetan from the north, and Mithila from the south meet in the capital and mingle harmoniously. The festivities such as the Ghode (horse) Jatra, Indra Jatra, Dashain Durga Puja festivals, Shivratri and many more are observed by all Hindu and Buddhist communities of Kathmandu with devotional fervor and enthusiasm. Social regulation in the codes enacted incorporate Hindu traditions and ethics. These were followed by the Shah kings and previous kings, as devout Hindus and protectors of Buddhist religion.

Cultural continuity has been maintained for centuries in the exclusive worship of goddesses and deities in Kathmandu and the rest of the country. These deities include the Ajima, Taleju (or Tulja Bhavani), Digu taleju, and Kumari (the living goddess). The artistic edifices have now become places of worship in the everyday life of the people, therefore a roster is maintained to observe annual festivals. There are 133 festivals held in the year.[78]

Some of the traditional festivals observed in Kathmandu, apart from those previously mentioned, are Bada Dashain, Tihar, Chhath, Maghe Sankranti, Naga Panchami, Janai Poornima, Pancha Dan, Teej/Rishi Panchami, Pahan Charhe, Jana Baha Dyah Jatra (White Machchhendranath Jatra), and Matatirtha Aunsi.[51]


Dakshinkali temple

Assumedly, together with the kingdom of Licchhavi (c. 400 to 750), Hinduism and the endogam social stratification of the Caste was established in Kathmandu Valley. The Pashupatinath Temple, Changu Narayan temple (the oldest), and the Kasthamandap are of particular importance to Hindus. Other notable Hindu temples in Kathmandu and the surrounding valley include Bajrayogini Temple, Dakshinkali Temple, Guhyeshwari Temple, and the Sobha Bhagwati shrine.

Naksaal Bhagwati Temple

The Bagmati River which flows through Kathmandu is considered a holy river both by Hindus and Buddhists, and many Hindu temples are on the banks of this river. The importance of the Bagmati also lies in the fact that Hindus are cremated on its banks, and Kirants are buried in the hills by its side. According to the Nepali Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times into the Bagmati before cremation. The chief mourner (usually the first son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy riverwater bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral procession also take bath in the Bagmati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation as the Bagmati is believed to purify people spiritually.


Main article: Buddhism in Nepal

Buddhism started in Kathmandu with the arrival of Buddhist monks during the time of Buddha (c. 563 - 483 BC[79]). They started a forest monastery in Sankhu. This monastery was renovated by Shakyas after they fled genocide from Virudhaka (rule: 491-461 BC).

During the Hindu Lichchavi era (c. 400 to 750), various monasteries and orders were created which successively led to the formation of Newar Buddhism, which is still practiced in the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Sanskrit.

Legendary Princess Bhrikuti (7th-century) and artist Araniko (1245 - 1306 AD) from that tradition of Kathmandu valley played a significant role in spreading Buddhism in Tibet and China. There are over 108 traditional monasteries (Bahals and Bahis) in Kathmandu based on Newar Buddhism. Since the 1960s, the permanent Tibetan Buddhist population of Kathmandu has risen significantly so that there are now over fifty Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the area. Also, with the modernization of Newar Buddhism, various Theravada Bihars have been established.

Kirant Mundhum

Kirant Mundhum is one of the indigenous animistic practices of Nepal. It is practiced by Kirat people. Some animistic aspects of Kirant beliefs, such as ancestor worship (worship of Ajima) are also found in Newars of Kirant origin. Ancient religious sites believed to be worshipped by ancient Kirats, such as Pashupatinath, Wanga Akash Bhairabh (Yalambar) and Ajima are now worshipped by people of all Dharmic religions in Kathmandu. Kirats who have migrated from other parts of Nepal to Kathmandu practice Mundhum in the city.


Sikhism is practiced primarily in Gurudwara at Kupundole. An earlier temple of Sikhism is also present in Kathmandu which is now defunct. Jainism is practiced by a small community. A Jain temple is present in Gyaneshwar, where Jains practice their faith. According to the records of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Nepal, there are approximately 300 Baha'is in Kathmandu valley. They have a National Office in Shantinagar, Baneshwor. The Baha'is also have classes for children at the National Centre and other localities in Kathmandu. Islam is practised in Kathmandu but Muslims are a minority, accounting for about 4.2% of the population of Nepal. It is said that in Kathmandu alone there are 170 Christian churches. Christian missionary hospitals, welfare organizations, and schools are also operating. Nepali citizens who served as soldiers in Indian and British armies, who had converted to Christianity while in service, on return to Nepal continue to practice their religion. They have contributed to the spread of Christianity and the building of churches in Nepal and in Kathmandu, in particular.[80][81]


Tribhuwan University, the oldest university of Nepal

The oldest modern school in Nepal is Durbar School, and the oldest college, Tri Chandra College, are both in Kathmandu city. The largest (according to number of students and colleges), oldest and most distinguished university in Nepal is in Kirtipur and is called Tribhuvan University. The second largest university, Kathmandu University (KU), is in Dhulikhel, Kavre on the outskirts of Kathmandu. It is the second oldest university in Nepal, established in November 1991.[82]

Medical colleges

Institute of Medicine, the central college of Tribhuwan University is the first medical college of Nepal and is in Maharajgunj, Kathmandu. It was established in 1972 and started to impart medical education from 1978. A number of medical colleges including Kathmandu Medical College, Nepal Medical College, KIST Medical College, Nepal Army Institute of Health Sciences, National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) and Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences (KUSMS), are also in or around Kathmandu.[83]


Football and cricket are the most popular sports among the younger generation in Nepal and there are several stadiums in the city.[84] The sport is governed by the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) from its headquarters in Kathmandu. The only international football stadium in the city is the Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium used mostly for football matches and cultural events, in the neighborhood of Tripureshwor. It is the largest stadium in Nepal with a capacity of 25,000 spectators, built in 1956. Martyr's Memorial League is also held in this ground every year. The stadium was renovated with Chinese help before the 8th South Asian Games were held in Kathmandu and had floodlights installed. Kathmandu is home to the oldest football clubs of Nepal such as RCT, Sankata and NRT. Other prominent clubs include MMC, Machhindra FC, Tribhuwan Army Club (TAC) and MPC.

Kathmandu is also home of some of the oldest cricket clubs in Nepal, such as Yengal Sports Club. Kathmandu has the only recognised international cricket ground in the country, at a university site in Kirtipur.

An international stadium for swimming events is in Satdobato, Lalitpur, near Kathmandu. The ANFA Technical Football Center is just adjacent to this stadium.


Aerial view of a road in Kathmandu

The total length of roads in Nepal is recorded to be (17,182 km (10,676 mi)), as of 2003–04. This fairly large network has helped the economic development of the country, particularly in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, vegetable farming, industry and also tourism.[85] In view of the hilly terrain, transportation takes place in Kathmandu are mainly by road and air. Kathmandu is connected by the Tribhuvan Highway to the south, Prithvi Highway to the west and Araniko Highway to the north. The BP Highway, connecting Kathmandu to the eastern part of Nepal is under construction.

The main international airport serving Kathmandu and thus Nepal is the Tribhuvan International Airport, about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the city centre. Operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal[86] it has two terminals, one domestic and one international. At present, about 22 international airlines connect Nepal to other destinations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, to cities such as Istanbul, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka, Islamabad, Paro, Lhasa, Chengdu, and Guangzhou.[86] A recent extension to the international terminal has made the distance to the airplanes shorter and in October 2009 it became possible to fly directly to Kathmandu from Amsterdam with Arkefly. Since 2013, Turkish Airlines connects Istanbul to Kathmandu.[87] Regionally, several Nepali airlines operate from the city, including Agni Air, Buddha Air, Cosmic Air, Nepal Airlines and Yeti Airlines, to other major towns across Nepal.


Ropeways are another important transportation means in hilly terrain. A ropeway operated between Kathmandu and Hetauda over a length of 43 km (27 mi) which carried 25 tonnes of goods per hour. It has since been discontinued due to poor carrying capacity and maintenance issues. During the Rana period, a ropeway was constructed between Kathmandu (then Mathathirtha) to Dhorsing (Makawanpur) of over 22 km (14 mi) in length, which carried cargo of 8 tonnes per hour.


TU Teaching Hospital, the oldest teaching hospital of Nepal
Bir Hospital, the oldest hospital of Nepal.

Healthcare in Kathmandu is the most developed in Nepal, and the city and surrounding valley is home to some of the best hospitals and clinics in the country. Bir Hospital is the oldest, established in July 1889 by Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana. Notable hospitals include Bir Hospital, Tribhuwan University Institute of Medicine (Teaching Hospital), Patan Hospital, Kathmandu Model Hospital, Scheer Memorial Hospital, Om Hospital, Norvic Hospital, Grande International Hospital, Nobel Hospital.

The city is supported by specialist hospitals/clinics such as Shahid Shukra Tropical Hospital, Shahid Gangalal Foundation, Kathmandu Veterinary Hospital, Nepal Eye Hospital, Kanti Children's Hospital, Nepal International Clinic (Travel and Mountain medicine center), Neuro Center, Spinal Rehabilitation center and Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital. Most of the general hospitals are in the city centre, although several clinics are elsewhere in Kathmandu district.

Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology is an Ophthalmological hospital in Kathmandu. It pioneered the production of low cost intraocular lenses (IOLs), which are used in cataract surgery.[88] The team of Dr. Sanduk Ruit in the same hospital pioneered sutureless small-incision cataract surgery (SICS),[89][90] a technique which has been used to treat 4 million of the world's 20 million people with cataract blindness.


Nepal Television, Block 1

Kathmandu is the television hub of Nepal. Nepal Television, established in 1985, is the oldest and most watched television channel in Nepal, as is government-owned NTV 2 Metro, Channel Nepal, Image Channel, Kantipur Television, Sagarmatha TV, Himalayan Television and other channels.

The headquarters of many of the country's news outlets are also in the city including the government-owned Gorkhapatra, the oldest national daily newspaper in Nepal, The Kathmandu Post, Nepali Times, Kantipur Publications and its paper Kantipur, the largest selling Nepali language paper, The Himalayan Times, the largest selling English broadsheet in Nepal, Karobar Economic Daily and Aarthik Abhiyan National Daily are the only economic daily in Nepal and Jana Aastha National Weekly.

Nepal Republic Media, the publisher of MyRepublica, joined a publishing alliance with the International Herald Tribune (IHT), to publish the Asia Pacific Edition of IHT from Kathmandu from July 20, 2011.[91] There is a state-run National News Agency (RSS).

Radio Nepal is a state-run organization which operates national and regional radio stations. These stations are: Hits FM (Nepal), HBC 94 FM, Radio Sagarmatha, Kantipur FM and Image FM. The BBC also has an FM broadcasting station in Kathmandu.[92] Among them small part of FM radio come from Community radio Station, that are Radio Pratibodh F.M. - 102.4 MHz, Radio Upatyaka - 87.6 MHz etc.

International Organisations

Kathmandu is home to several international and regional organizations, including SAARC,

International relations

Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), in order to promote international relations has established an International Relations Secretariat (IRC). KMC's first international relationship was established in 1975 with the city of Eugene, Oregon, United States. This activity has been further enhanced by establishing formal relationships with 8 other cities: Motsumoto City of Japan, Rochester of the USA, Yangon (formerly Rangoon) of Myanmar, Xi'an of the People's Republic of China, Minsk of Belarus, and Pyongyang of the Democratic Republic of Korea. KMC's constant endeavor is to enhance its interaction with SAARC countries, other International agencies and many other major cities of the world to achieve better urban management and developmental programs for Kathmandu.[93]

Twin towns – Sister cities

Kathmandu is twinned with:

See also


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Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kathmandu.
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