The history of the city of Kathmandu dates back to ancient times and is insepara

ble from that of the Kathmandu valley whose architectural and cultural heritage
consists of seven groups of monuments and buildings. These illustrate the histor
ic and artistic achievements for which Kathmandu is renowned and contain a varie
ty of beautiful and unique architecture. Kathmandu is a mixture of both Buddhist
and Hindu temples with stone and wood carvings providing excellent examples of
intricate workmanship that can be seen throughout the city. The finest example i
s in the Durbar Square; this is located in the old city and developed over many
centuries. The meaning of Durbar is the place of palaces although it could also
be known as the place of temples as it has 50 temples situated in two quadrangle
s. Adjacent to Durbar Square is Kumari Ghar. This is the palace where the living
incarnation of the goddess Taleju lives. The Kumari is a young girl who is sele
cted as a manifestation of the divine female energy and retains that role until
she reaches puberty.
The Buddhist stupas (domed structures housing Buddhist or Jain relics) of Swayam
bhu and Bauddhanath are located 7 miles from the city centre and are the holiest
Buddhist sites in Nepal. The Bauddhanath is 36 metres tall and was probably bui
lt in the 14th century after the Mughal invasions, although records do indicate
that it may have existed in some form as far back as the 6th century AD. The bas
e of the stupa has 108 small depictions of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha and is sur
rounded with a brick wall with 147 niches, each containing prayer wheels. Swayam
bhunath is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. This is also known as the
Monkey Temple as a number of holy monkeys live in parts of the temple. It is bel
ieved to date back over two thousand years and an inscription records that King
Manadeva worked on the site in the year 460AD. The present stupa was rebuilt aft
er Mughal invaders broke open the original in 1346 when searching for gold. The
stupa was expanded in the 17th century by King Pratap Malla, who added a large s
tairway.
It was during the period of 1673 to 1696 under King Jitamitra Malla, that Kathma
ndu experienced its greatest building works. In 1674, Jitamitra Malla built the
Shiva temple and in 1682, the two-storied Dharmasala Palace which was used by ro
yalty until 1769; which today is a museum. To the east of this he erected the te
mple and statue of Narayana, along with the temples of Dattatrikasa and Pashupat
i. The Kathmandu Valley became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 with a numbe
r of minor modifications in 2006.
Since this article and photographs were published, many of the buildings in Kath
mandu have been damaged in the earthquake that occurred on the 25 April 2015.