The Kathmandu Valley, the capital, is the political, commercial and cultural hub of Nepal. Spread across an area of 360 square kilometers and at an altitude of 1336 meter above the sea level, Kathmandu is an exotic and fascinating showcase of a very rich culture, art and tradition. The valley, roughly oval bowl measuring 24 km east-west and 19 km north-south, is encircled by a range of green terraced hills and dotted by compact clusters of red tiled-roofed houses.
A remarkable legend speaks that the valley was once covered by a lake until the Bodhisattva Manjushri raised his sword of wisdom and sliced a passage through the mountain walls, draining the water and creating the first settlements.
The valley embraces most of Nepal's ethinc groups, but Newars are the indigenous inhabitants and the creators of the valley's splendid civilization.
Not very long ago, it was said that there were just as many houses as there were temples and shrines in Kathmandu valley. Now, of course, that fact does not hold true because of the rapid urbanization and population growth in thelast three decades. Nevertheless, the valley still exhibits a living, breathing entity,a vital culture that has miraculously survived till now.
The valley consists of three fabulous cities of great historic and cultural interest. These legendry cities go by the names of:
- Lalitpur or Patan