Eight kilometers to the north of kathmandu, at the Shivapuri foothill is the largest and the most important Bishnu shrines in the valley. The main shrine consists of a giant granite image of lord Bishnu reclining on a bed of coiled snakes in the middle of a pond. Jalasaya Narayan - popularly known as Budhanilknantha is Lord Vishnu for Vaisnavs, Lord Shiva for Shaivas, and Lord Buddha for Buddhists and different sects of Hindus worship this God in the names of their faith.
This outstanding artwork of Licchavi sculptors dates back to 7th century and is the most beautiful among all the stone engravings within the kathmandu valley.
Dakshinkali is one of the very popular pilgrim sites for the Hindus and is quite crowded especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays when animal sacrifices are offered. It is located about 22 kilometers /14 miles to the south of kathmandu. Goddess Kali is a Tantric deity and is the symbol of power and authority. A trip to this beautiful location combined with Chovar Gorge from where all the waters of kathmandu valley drain out is quite a rewarding experience.
Namo Buddha means "Greetings to the Buddha". It is the symbol of human sacrifice at the highest possible level. A legend has it that a prince while hunting in the forest saw a hungry tigress with her cubs. The compassionate prince seeing the pitiable conditions of the starving animals cut the flesh of his body and feed them. Such an extra ordinary deed of the prince led him to be a Buddha at the site where he feed his flesh to the animals. The main stupa dedicated to Namo Buddha depicts this story of self-less action of the prince. Namo Buddha has always drawn reverent pilgrims. You can drive up to Dhulikhel from Kathmandu and can chooose either to further drive on the rough road or hike up to Namobuddha.
Nagarkot at an altitude of 2175 meters / 7100 feet above the sea level is the second highest peak around the Kathmandu Valley. After an hour-long exciting and winding drive you will be able to feel the cool breeze blowing endlessly into your face, and see the widest range Of Himalayas including five of the world's ten tallest mountains with your bare eyes from here: Mount Everest (8848 meters/ 29002 feet), Lhotse (8516 meters/27940 feet), Cho Oyu (8201 meters/26900 feet), Makalu (8463meters/27760 feet) and Manaslu (8163 meters/26780 feet). It is also one of the best spots to visit for unmatched sunrise/sunset views.
The ancient little town of Dhulikhel is just about 30 kilometers / 18 miles east of kathmandu (about one hour of easy and smooth drive). Here you can experience the rich traditional culture of the Newar community, enjoy the extraordinary sunrise and sunset views and watch the majestic Himalayan ranges all the way from Karyolung in the east to the Himalchuli in the west.
Changunarayan (World Heritage Site): The Temple of Changunarayan is one of the oldest temples in Kathmandu Valley. The richness of Changunarayan is surpassed only by the wealth of the greatest temple of Pashupatinath. The temple is sitting on the hillock called Changu- the name derived from the name of the god. Around the temple, you will see the stone image of Garuda- the half-bird half-man that is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. To visit this remarkable temple you may walk up from the Sankhu Road or bike up from Bhaktapur. However, the most interesting one would be the half-day hike along the hill ridge route from Nagarkot to Changunarayan.
Shivapuri National Park:
Shivapuri - the land of Shiva is about 9 kilometers/5.60 miles to the north of kathmandu and covers an area of 144 square kilometers. There is a great view of the central Nepal Himalaya and the kathmandu valley from the hilltop at an elevation of 2732 meters /8960 Feet above sea level. The Shivapuri Hills offer great opportunity for Bird Watching, animal sightings and short trekking/hiking tours. Being a transition zone between subtropical and temperate climates, rhododendrons, Black Bear, Deer, Jungle Cat, Leopard, Woodpeckers, Eagles and other creatures of the nature can be seen here.
Phulchowki - meaning "Hill of Flowers" is located at an altitude of 2762 meters /9060 feet above sea level, 20 kilometers / 12.50 miles to the southeast of kathmandu and is the highest point / the tallest hill top surrounding the kathmandu valley. It commands a grand view of the entire kathmandu valley with a backdrop of the Himalayas to the north and the terai plains to the south.?The forested slopes are full of rhododendrons, orchids and other green vegetation. Deer, Bear, leopard and more than 250 species of birds have been already recorded in Phulchowki.