Your next holiday destination could be one of the wonders of the world! UNESCO Heritage Sites are places around the world that have been designated by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having exceptional cultural or physical significance, which must be protected and preserved. Today, Nepal has ten UNESCO Heritage Sites, offering tourists a chance to visit some truly remarkable places from around the globe. Here are Nepal’s great UNESCO Heritage Sites and what you can see there! Read on to find out more about these unique places.
UNESCO heritage sites in Nepal
Kathmandu Durbar Square – Hanuman Dhoka
It may be hard to imagine Kathmandu without Durbar Square, which has existed for more than 500 years. The Kathmandu Durbar Square, more commonly known as Basantapur, is a historical complex in central Kathmandu. It is also called Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square after its main shrine, a pagoda-style tower (or durbar) dedicated to Lord Hanuman. This is an excellent place to get a feel for traditional Nepali life in Kathmandu and is full of religious, historical and cultural significance.
The temple is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been listed as a tentative site in UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger since 1999 due to unstable structure caused by heavy rainfalls. It’s also worth noting that Durbar Square was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979 as an extension of Patan Durbar Square. This essentially gives Durbar Square double protection as part of both a cultural and natural heritage site, as well as making it one of only five locations on earth with that distinction.
Lalitpur Durbar Square (Patan)
Lalitpur Durbar Square is a royal palace complex located in Patan, Kathmandu. It was built during 16th century and was expanded several times until 18th century. The Durbar Square is surrounded by temples, buildings and statues of gods, protecting shrines, houses and pillared halls. It has numerous temples, courtyards and statues. It is one of 3 Durbar Squares in Kathmandu Valley that survived from major earthquake on 25 April 2015. The architecture of Patan square features many structures from various eras of Nepali history.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, located in Bhaktapur city, also known as Bhadgaon, is a world heritage site that deserves all of its praise. Listed on World Heritage list since 1979, it is one of best preserved medieval towns in South Asia. The square is filled with statues, temples and decorative pillars that make it feel like something out of a fairytale.
This UNESCO world heritage site has over 35 temples and monuments that date back to 10th century A.D, including several palaces and four major gates. It’s also a popular place for Nepalese handicrafts like metal crafts, woodwork and brocade textiles. In fact, there are tons of shops in Durbar Square that sell handicrafts from all over Nepal—it’s definitely one of our favorite souvenir spots in Kathmandu! This dazzling square can’t be found anywhere else on earth and makes visiting Bhaktapur well worth it.
Pashupatinath temple – The Holy Shrine for Hindu Funerals
Pashupatinath Temple is one of world’s most ancient Shiva shrines. It is located on banks of Bagmati River in Kathmandu and is a popular tourist destination as well as an important place of pilgrimage on account of being dedicated to Shiva, Lord of all Gods. Pashupatinath Temple also serves as a cremation ground for Hindus. The temple consists of a number of ancient shrines and Hindu deities. In fact, Pashupatinath is believed to be where Lord Shiva’s one of his five heads fell.
The origins of Pashupatinath date back to antiquity, with its earliest records dating back to 3rd century BC or even earlier. In fact, it’s believed that King Asoka himself oversaw construction on many parts of what we now see as Pashupatinath Temple. Due to its cultural significance and architectural grandeur, it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Changu Narayan is a temple complex in Changu, a village located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Bhaktapur. While it’s a Buddhist site, thousands of Hindus also make pilgrimages here each year; in fact Changu Narayan is one of Nepal’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites. The temple dates back to the 12th century CE and features classic Nepalese architecture.
Changu Narayan was built by King Bhupatindra Malla, who ruled from 1696 to 1722; he declared Changu Narayan as an official royal temple for his family when it was completed. The temple has been largely restored since then, including a restoration done by Jung Bahadur Rana in 1847. Changu Narayan Temple is distinguished by the fact that no side of any tower or wall has been left bare: they are all intricately carved and latticeworked.
The stairs leading up to Changu Narayan Temple are lined with more than 100 lion statues and it’s not uncommon for visitors to leave some of their clothing at these spots as an offering to gods and goddesses—which can make things interesting when you have to figure out where your pants are after they disappear!
Swoyambhunath stupa is a Buddhist sacred site and one of UNESCO world heritage sites in Kathmandu, together with Bouddhanath stupa, Pashupatinath Temple and Hanuman Dhoka. It is considered to be one of four most sacred sites in Nepal. Many believe it to be one of Asia’s oldest stupas, and each year thousands of Nepalese Buddhists come here to celebrate Saga Dawa, a holy Buddhist festival during which they walk around its base.
Swoyambhunath was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 under criteria II, III and IV. Swoyambhunath is also on Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation’s list of national treasures. The name ‘Swoyambhu’ means self-created or born from itself or arises from itself. According to local legend, it was created when a drop of water spilled from a Buddha’s hand as he reached Everest to offer his blessings to his mother who at that time was standing nearby offering her prayers to him in heaven above.
The Boudhanath Stupa is one of the very few monumental works that were designated as a World Heritage Site in 1979 by UNESCO. Every year, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to one of the most famous landmarks: Boudhanath Stupa. This Tibetan Buddhist stupa in Kathmandu date back to as early as 1200 AD and are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At 55 meters (180 feet) tall and a diameter of 86 meters, Boudhanath is one of the largest Buddhist stupas in all of Asia and it is an important place of worship for Buddhists around the world. The stupas, pagodas, temples and shrines are home to some of Nepal’s finest Buddhist art. The site attracts large numbers of local Buddhist pilgrims every year.
To check out the itinerary, cost details and highlights of Full Day Sightseeing Tour around Kathmandu Valley, click here.
Chitwan National Park – Oldest National Park of Nepal
Chitwan National Park lies about 300 km south-west of Kathmandu, straddling an area of subtropical moist broadleaf forests that are home to many endangered species. It is located in central part of Terai. The park was established by King Mahendra on August 18, 1973. At 1,683 square kilometers, it is one of Asia’s largest national parks and a great source of information for those interested in learning more about Nepal’s natural history. The park has long been known as one of South Asia’s most important areas for conservation and study. In fact, Chitwan was one of Nepal’s first protected areas — way back in 1973, before almost all other parts of the country were designated as protected land.
To check out the itinerary, cost details and highlights of Chitwan National Park Tour, click here.
Lumbini – The birthplace of Lord Buddha
Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in central Nepal, south of Kapilavastu. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of four holy sites for Buddhists. It is one of three main places associated with the life of Gautama Buddha, who was born here. It is said that his mother, Maya Devi, had dreams about his birth and journey to Lumbini: she took for granted her pregnancy and labor since she believed herself to be in an enchanted world.
Buddha was born under a tree at Lumbini – called The Tree of Enlightenment – which still survives to date. Lumbini is particularly sacred to Buddhists because Buddha was born here in 563 BC. Even though it is believed that Buddha was born under a Sal tree grove, only a single Sal tree remains there today.
Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha National Park is a World Biosphere Reserve in Asia’s Highest Mountain Range, The Himalayas! Located in Solukhumbu District, Sagarmatha National Park is one of Nepal’s most famous and important natural assets.
The park consists of eight mountain peaks, including Mount Everest (Sagarmatha), which stands at an impressive 8,848 meters above sea level. In addition to providing a spectacular backdrop for views of Mount Everest and other high peaks, it also contains some of Earth’s last remaining alpine tundra habitat.
Established in 1976, it became a part of UNESCO’s world heritage sites in 2003 for its unique biodiversity and rich cultural diversity. Since the establishment, its boundaries were expanded into what we see today in 1979. Today, about two-thirds of all Sherpa people reside within the national park boundaries.
To see a list of all the trips and activities offered in the Everest Region, click here.