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Tours To The Valley Rim

While enjoying the comfort of your Kathmandu hotel, take a day trip to the Valley’s edge. Mountains await you there, along with friendly people willing to show you their more traditional ways of life. Yet all of these trips can be done in just one day, returning you to central Kathmandu by evening.

Nagarkot is the classic mountain viewpoint resort, located about an hour northeast of the city. Rise early for a sunrise panorama view of the peaks stretching from Annapurna in the west, past Mt. Everest and all the way to the Khangchendzonga range in the East. This is your chance to see Everest’s icy summit without leaving the warmth of your lodge’s fire!

Also in this direction a bit farther along the Arniko Highway to Tibet, Dhulikhel offers an exciting combination of mountain views and an old, Newari merchant village to explore. The journey to Dhulikhel takes you through many picturesque villages, and it is a perfect staging point for many day-long hikes to other points of interest in the area. A short hike to the Kali temple above the town brings you into close contact with both the mountains and the dark goddess herself, while a longer day-trip takes you to Namo Buddha, the third important Buddhist stupa in the Valley in addition to Boudhanath and Swayambhunath. Here, the Buddha is said to have offered his flesh to a hungry tigress.

On a hill outside of Bhaktapur, Changu Narayan is the oldest temple in the Valley, built in 323 A.D. Its hilltop position gives a gorgeous view of Kathmandu city below, while the temple itself basks in quiet serenity.

To the northwest of the city, Kakani is a quiet outpost that served as a retreat for the long-ago British Residents of Kathmandu. With few hotels, its quiet splendor lets you view the northwestern Himalayan panorama in solitude and explore the surrounding alpine scenery as you please. Also in this direction, the Nagarjuna Nature Preserve offers excellent day hikes through lush green forests and wildflowers in season.

On the southern side of the city, a day trip to Dakshinkali and Pharping brings you into the heart of both Hindu and Buddhist communities in a short time. The most important Kali temple in the area, Dakshinkali is the site of blood sacrifices on holy days. Surrounded by forests, it is a beautiful place to watch the steady stream of Hindu devotees coming to pay homage to the goddess. Nearby is the Tibetan Buddhist settlement of Pharping, where you can visit a number of monasteries, as well as a sacred Vajrayogini cave—the image of the Buddhist goddess on rock is said to be self-emanating.

Also in this general direction, one finds the Royal Botanical Gardens and Phulchowki hill. The Gardens represent unusual plants from all over South Asia and should be a treat for any plant lover and are a pleasant retreat from the city. Just further down the road, one begins the climb towards Phulchowki, the highest peak on the Valley rim and an excellent Himalayan vantage point. This can be done in a car, but more intrepid travellers may wish to walk at least one way so as to enjoy the wide array of wildflowers up close.