The history of the city of Kathmandu dates back to ancient times and is inseparable from that of the Kathmandu valley whose architectural and cultural heritage consists of seven groups of monuments and buildings. These illustrate the historic and artistic achievements for which Kathmandu is renowned and contain a variety 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 is 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 quadrangles. 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 selected 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 Swayambhu 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 built 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 base of the stupa has 108 small depictions of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha and is surrounded with a brick wall with 147 niches, each containing prayer wheels. Swayambhunath 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 believed 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 after 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 stairway.
It was during the period of 1673 to 1696 under King Jitamitra Malla, that Kathmandu 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 royalty until 1769; which today is a museum. To the east of this he erected the temple and statue of Narayana, along with the temples of Dattatrikasa and Pashupati. The Kathmandu Valley became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 with a number of minor modifications in 2006.
Since this article and photographs were published, many of the buildings in Kathmandu have been damaged in the earthquake that occurred on the 25 April 2015.