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Kathmandu Valley, Nepa Valley
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Kathmandu valley seen from the space by the NASA Earth Observatory
LocationBagmati Province, Nepal
CriteriaCultural: (iii), (iv), (vi)
Inscription1979 (3rd Session)
Area665 square km
Coordinates27°42′14″N 85°18′31″E / 27.70389°N 85.30861°E / 27.70389; 85.30861
Kathmandu Valley is located in Kathmandu
Kathmandu Valley
Location of Kathmandu Valley in Kathmandu
Kathmandu Valley is located in Bagmati Province
Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley (Bagmati Province)
Kathmandu Valley is located in Nepal
Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)
The Durbar Square in Kathmandu

The Kathmandu Valley (Nepali: काठमाडौं उपत्यका), also known as the Nepal Valley or Nepa Valley (Nepali: नेपाः उपत्यका, Nepal Bhasa: 𑐣𑐾𑐥𑐵𑑅 𑐐𑐵𑑅, नेपाः गाः), National Capital Area, is a bowl-shaped valley located in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal. It lies at the crossroads of ancient civilizations of the Indian subcontinent and the broader Asian continent, and has at least 130 important monuments, including several pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists. There are seven World Heritage Sites within the valley.[2]

The Kathmandu Valley is the most developed and the largest urban agglomeration in Nepal with a population of about 5 million people.[3] The urban agglomeration of Kathmandu Valley includes the cities of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Changunarayan, Budhanilkantha, Tarakeshwar, Gokarneshwar, Suryabinayak, Tokha, Kirtipur, Madhyapur Thimi, and others. The majority of offices and headquarters are located in the valley, making it the economic hub of Nepal. It is popular with tourists for its unique architecture, and rich culture which includes the highest number of jatras (festivals) in Nepal. Kathmandu valley itself was referred to as "Nepal Proper" by British historians. As per the World Bank, the Kathmandu Valley was one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in South Asia with 2.5 million population by 2010 and an annual growth rate of 4%.[4]

In 2015, Kathmandu Valley was hit by the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.[5] The earthquake caused thousands of deaths and the destruction of many infrastructure across the Kathmandu Valley, which included the towns of Lalitpur, Kirtipur, Madhyapur Thimi, Changunarayan, and Bhaktapur. Kathmandu is also the largest city in the Himalayan hill region.


Historically, the valley and adjoining areas made up a confederation known as the Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital, when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur (Patan), were established.[6][7][8] Until the 1960s, the Kathmandu Valley was known as the Nepala Valley or Nepa Valley.[9][10] In 1961 the valley was listed as Kathmandu District, which began referring to the valley as Kathmandu Valley.[11] The term Nepa Valley is still used among Newar people[12] and local governments,[13] while senior citizens still tend to refer to the valley as Nepal.[14] The term Swaniga (Nepal Bhasa: 𑐳𑑂𑐰𑐣𑐶𑐐𑑅, स्वनिगः) is used to refer to three cities namely Yén (Kathmandu), Yala (Lalitpur) and Khwapa (Bhaktapur) [15]

The Pahari name Kathmandu comes from a structure in the Durbar Square called by the Sanskrit name Kāsṣtha mandapa "Wooden shelter". This unique temple, also known as the Maru Sattal, was built in 1596 by King Lakshmi Narasimha Malla. The entire structure contained no iron nails or supports and was made entirely from wood. Legend has it that the timber used for this two-story pagoda was obtained from a single tree.


The Kathmandu Valley may have been inhabited as early as 300 BCE, since the oldest known objects in the valley date to a few hundred years BCE. The earliest known inscription is dated 185 CE. The oldest firmly dated building in the earthquake-prone valley is over 2,000 years old. Four stupas around the city of Patan that are said to have been erected by Charumati, a purported daughter of the Maurya emperor Ashoka, in the third century BCE, attest to the ancient history present within the valley. As with the tales of the Buddha's visit, there is no evidence supporting Ashok's visit, but the stupas probably date to that century. The Licchavis, whose earliest inscriptions date to 464, were the next rulers of the valley and had close ties with the Gupta Empire of India. The Mallas ruled the Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding area from the 12th until the 18th century CE, when the Shah dynasty of the Gorkha Kingdom under Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the valley as he created present-day Nepal. His victory in the Battle of Kirtipur was the beginning of his conquest of the valley.

Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Pashupati.


The Newars are the indigenous inhabitants and the creators of the historic civilization of the valley. Their language is today known as Nepal Bhasa.[16] They are understood to be the descendants of the various ethnic and racial groups that have inhabited and ruled the valley in the two-millennium history of the place. Scholars have also described the Newars as a nation.[17] They have developed a division of labour and a sophisticated urban civilization not seen elsewhere in the Himalayan foothills. They are known for their contributions to art, sculpture, architecture, culture, literature, music, industry, trade, agriculture and cuisine, and have left their mark on the art of Central Asia.

Newa architecture consists of the pagoda, stupa, shikhara, chaitya and other styles. [18]The valley's trademark is the multiple-roofed pagoda which may have originated in this area and spread to India, China, Indochina and Japan.[19][20] The most famous artisan who influenced stylistic developments in China and Tibet was Araniko, a Newar who traveled to the court of Kublai Khan in the 13th century AD.[19] He is known for building the white stupa at the Miaoying Temple in Beijing. At present, people from other parts of Nepal tend to migrate to the valley for a better life due to its high level of cultural and economic development. Even with urbanization taking place, the Newars have sustained their culture in the Kathmandu Valley.


Swayamhbu Stupa

According to Swayambhu Puran, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake, deemed by scientists as Paleo Kathmandu Lake.[21] The hill where the Swayambu Stupa rests had lotus plants with flowers in bloom. One story says that the God Manjusri cut a gorge at a valley called Kashapaal (later called Chobhar) with a sword called Chandrahrasha and drained away the waters in order to establish a habitable land.

According to Gopal Banshawali, Krishna cut the gorge with his Sudarshana Chakra to let the water out. He then handed the drained valley to the Gopal Vansi people, who were nomadic cow herders.


Mountain view from Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu valley is bowl-shaped. Its central lower part stands at 1,425 metres (4,675 ft) above sea level. Kathmandu valley is surrounded by four mountain ranges: Shivapuri hills (at an elevation of 2,732 metres or 8,963 feet), Phulchowki (2,762 metres or 9,062 feet), Nagarjun (2,128 metres or 6,982 feet), Champadevi (2,278 metres or 7,474 feet) and Chandragiri (2,551 metres or 8,369 feet). The major river flowing through the Kathmandu Valley is the Bagmati River. The valley is made up of the Kathmandu District, Lalitpur District and Bhaktapur District covering an area of 220 square miles (570 km2). The valley consists of the municipal areas of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur and Madhyapur Thimi; the remaining area is made up of a number of municipalities and rural municipalities (in Lalitpur district). The valley is a cultural and political hub of Nepal. The Kathmandu valley was accorded the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1979.[22]

Notable areas

Dese Maru Jhya, the only window of its kind in the country
Kathmandu Durbar Square

This is an incomplete alphabetical list of notable temples and monuments in Kathmandu Valley. Seven of these are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[2]


Narayanhiti Palace Museum

This valley hosts a UNESCO World Heritage Site with seven preserved locations: the centers of the three primary cities, Kathmandu Hanuman Dhoka, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the two most important Buddhist stupas, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath and two famous Hindu shrines, Pashupatinath temple and Changu Narayan.[23] In 2003, UNESCO listed the sites as being "endangered" out of concern for the ongoing loss of authenticity and the outstanding universal value of the cultural property. The endangered status was lifted in 2007.[24]

In the past, Tibetan Buddhist Masters including Marpa, Milarepa, Rwa Lotsava, Ras Chungpa, Dharma Swami, XIII Karmapa, XVI Karmapa and several others visited and travelled in the Kathmandu Valley. However, the largest group of Tibetans came in the 1960s. Many settled around the Swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupas. Many other famous Lamas known throughout the world have their Buddhist monasteries and centers in the Kathmandu Valley.[25]

The 1500-year history of funerary architecture in the valley provides some of the finest examples of stone architecture found in the subcontinent. A caitya is placed in almost all courtyards in cities like Patan.[26] Stone inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley are important sources for the history of Nepal.


Kathmandu Valley has total population of 2,996,341.[27]

Kathmandu (National Capital Area)

Kathmandu (NCT)
काठमाण्डौ (राष्ट्रिय राजधानी क्षेत्र)
Proposed Territory
Kathmandu Valley (a separate territory)
Kathmandu Valley (a separate territory)
Capital TerritoryKathmandu
 • Total902.61 km2 (348.50 sq mi)
 • Total2,996,341[3]

It is proposed to Government of Nepal to develop Kathmandu valley as a separate national capital territory and not a part of Bagmati Province.[28][29][30]

Kathmandu Valley consists 3 Districts of Bagmati Province whose total population is 2,996,341 and total area is 933.73 square kilometres (360.52 sq mi)

District Area Population (2021)[3]
Kathmandu 413.69 square kilometres (159.73 sq mi) 2,017,532
Bhaktapur 123.12 square kilometres (47.54 sq mi) 430,408
Lalitpur 396.92 square kilometres (153.25 sq mi) 548,401
Kathmandu NCT 933.73 square kilometres (360.52 sq mi) 2,996,341

Major cities

Cities and towns with 75,000+ population of Kathmandu valley as per 2021 Nepal census.[3]

Name District Population (2021) Area (km2) Density (/km2)
Kathmandu Kathmandu 845,767 49.45[31] 17,103
Lalitpur Lalitpur 299,843 36.12[32] 8,301
Budhanilkantha Kathmandu 179,688 34.8[33] 5,163
Tarakeshwar Kathmandu 151,508 54.95[34] 2,757
Gokarneshwar Kathmandu 151,200 58.5[35] 2,585
Suryabinayak Bhaktapur 137,971 42.45 3,250
Chandragiri Kathmandu 136,928 43.9 3,119
Tokha Kathmandu 135,741 17.11 7,933
Kageshwari-Manohara Kathmandu 133,327 27.38 4,870
Madhyapur Thimi Bhaktapur 119,955 11.47 10,458
Mahalaxmi Lalitpur 118,710 26.51 4,478
Nagarjun Kathmandu 115,507 29.85 3,870
Godawari Lalitpur 100,972 96.11 1,051
Changunarayan Bhaktapur 88,612 62.98 1,407
Kirtipur Kathmandu 81,782 14.76 5,541
Bhaktapur Bhaktapur 78,854 6.89 11,445

Minor cities and villages

See also


  1. ^ Royal Palaces of Abomey and Kathmandu removed from Danger List Archived 6 August 2022 at the Wayback Machine at UNESCO website
  2. ^ a b Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Kathmandu Valley". Archived from the original on 31 October 2005. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 February 2022. Retrieved 22 February 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Managing Nepal's Urban Transition". World Bank. Archived from the original on 2 November 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal". Government of Nepal. Archived from the original on 24 October 2021. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  6. ^ Slusser, M. (1982). Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. Princeton University. ISBN 978-0-691-03128-6. Page vii.
  7. ^ Tamot, Kashinath (2006). नेपालमण्डल. Nepal Mandal Anusandhan Guthi. ISBN 99946-987-5-3. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  8. ^ Tamot, K. (2006). नेपालमण्डल (नेपाली अनुवाद). Nepal Mandal Anusandhan Guthi. ISBN 99946-987-5-3. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  9. ^ Khatiwada, D. "'राजधानी प्रदेश' र 'नेवा राज्य' : केही भ्रमको खण्डन". Online Khabar. Archived from the original on 30 October 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  10. ^ "Celestial Advice" (PDF). Nepal Law Commission. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 January 2022. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  11. ^ "नेपालको जिल्ला प्रशासन पुनर्गठनको रिपोर्ट २०१३" (PDF). Ministry Federal Affairs & General Administration. Government of Nepal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 September 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  12. ^ "Save Nepa Valley Movement Homepage". Save Nepa Valley. Archived from the original on 30 October 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  13. ^ भक्तपुर नगरपालिका स्थानीय पाठ्यक्रम २०७५ (PDF). Bhaktapur: Bhaktapur Municipality. 2018. p. 9. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 October 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  14. ^ Khatiwada, Dambar. "'राजधानी प्रदेश' र 'नेवा राज्य' : केही भ्रमको खण्डन". Online Khabar. Archived from the original on 30 October 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  15. ^ Rajendra S. Khadka Travelers' Tales Nepal
  16. ^ von Furer-Haimendorf, Christoph (1956). "Elements of Newar Social Structure". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 86 (2). Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland: 15–38. doi:10.2307/2843991. JSTOR 2843991.
  17. ^ "Mesocosm". Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  18. ^ "CHAITYA HALLS", History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, Cambridge University Press, pp. 125–169, 27 June 2013, retrieved 18 November 2023
  19. ^ a b American University (Washington, D. C. ) Foreign Areas Studies Division; United States. Army (8 September 1964). "Area handbook for Nepal (with Sikkim and Bhutan)". Washington, For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off. Retrieved 8 September 2018 – via Internet Archive.
  20. ^ Gellner, David N. (1994). Nepal: A Guide to the Art and Architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. ISBN 1-870838-76-9.
  21. ^ Sakai, Harutaka; Paleo-Kathmandu Lake Drilling Project, Members (15 February 2008). "Middle to late Pleistocene climatic and depositional environmental changes recorded in the drilled core of lacustrine sediments in the Kathmandu Valley, central Nepal". Himalayan Journal of Sciences. 2 (4): 240–241. doi:10.3126/hjs.v2i4.924. ISSN 1727-5229.
  22. ^ "In-situ Radiometric Assessment of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu Valley of Nepal Using Gamma Ray Spectrometry". Jordan Journal of Physics. 16 (2): 215–227. 30 June 2023. doi:10.47011/16.2.9. ISSN 1994-7615.
  23. ^ "Places to see UNESCO World Heritage Sites". Archived from the original on 10 September 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  24. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "UNESCO World Heritage Centre - State of Conservation (SOC 2003) Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)". Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  25. ^ Observation on the influence of Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley: Archived 20 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Gutschow, Niels (1997). The Nepalese Caitya: 1500 Years of Buddhist Votive Architecture in the Kathmandu Valley. ISBN 978-3-930698-75-2. Pages 30-31.
  27. ^ "Census Data" (PDF). 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  28. ^ "Call for integrated development of Kathmandu Valley". My Republica. 6 July 2016. Archived from the original on 27 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  29. ^ "Road Map for Making Kathmandu Valley Development Concept Plan Risk Sensitive ..." (PDF). UNDP, Nepal. 29 May 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 December 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  30. ^ "Valley envisioned as national capital of federal Nepal". The Halayan. 15 July 2015. Archived from the original on 27 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  31. ^ "Kathmandu Metropolitan City | Government of Nepal". Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  32. ^ "Lalitpur Metropolitan City | Government of Nepal". Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  33. ^ "Budhanilkantha Municipality Office | Government of Nepal". Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  34. ^ "Tarakeshwor Municipality | Office of the Municipal Executive". Archived from the original on 30 August 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  35. ^ "Gokarneshwor Municipality | Municipality OfficeBagmati Pradesh, JorpatiKathmandu, Nepal". Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2022.