How To Travel Nepal By Motorcycle: Temples Within Kathmandu
If you’re beginning Day two of the motorcycling then you’ll be leaving from Nagarkot and heading towards Kathmandu. No matter where you start here is your guide on how to travel Nepal by motorcycle and visit the main surrounding temples!
After living in Nepal, and relying on a motorcycle for the majority of my transportation, I am here to tell you it is an awesome, yet possibly terrifying, experience. I strongly urge anyone thinking of “learning” how to drive a manual motorbike to NOT attempt to drive here. Due to the road conditions, drivers’ abilities, lax-road-laws, and all around lacking of our ‘westernized-structure’, Nepal is NOT the place to learn how to ride a bike. Also, please wear the proper gear, as it is mandated by law to wear a helmet! For a gear list and packing list check it out!
As if your bum didn’t hurt enough already, get ready for another long yet amazing day of cultural immersion and site seeing! Today we are going to visit several temples and climb up a LOT of stairs. So get ready, fill your water bottles, repack your bags, and jump on the bike. Fire up the engine and lets do this!
Stop 1: Pashupatinath
If you’re driving in the early morning the traffic will not be as heavy, but still expect a mild amount! The dust is still bad, so be prepared and wear your gear! You will be arriving in Pashupatinath within an hour and a half of leaving Nagarkot, and your GPS will most likely take you to the front entrance. However, they will require you to pay between 1000NPR and 1500NPR for an entrance fee, but it is forbidden for non-hindus to enter the temple. So you will be forced to stand at a distance, as an on-looker, from the same side as the cremations.
Seeing as this is the holiest Hindu temple in the world, and the 2015 earthquake did wreak unimaginable havoc on it’s ancient buildings, you might opt for paying the fee. But if you would like the ‘more local route,’ with a better view and free of charge, jump on the bike and drive it around to the back side of the temple. Here you will see a large set of stairs. Take those stairs up, up and up and before you know it you’ll be standing opposite the funeral pyres from across the river. Here you will get the perfect view!
Stop 2: Bouddhanath Temple
As the largest single Chhorten (dome) stupa in the world, and freshly renovated after its complete destruction in the earthquake in early 2015, you will park your bike and walk around this holy area. With the sounds of “Om mane padme om” christening your ears, you can walk the circumference of this wondrous dome. Spin each and every prayer wheel beneath the all seeing eyes. And be sure to walk clockwise as the Buddhists do.
After each prayer wheel has been spun, head up to the next level for a glimpse of the dome from close up. Then visit some of the local tourist-y shops surrounding it before heading back to the bike! If you’re beginning to get hungry at this point feel free to grab a snack, but I suggest waiting until our next destination!
Optional Side Trip
Stop 2.5: Budhalinkantha The Serpent Temple
~30-45 Min (From Bouddanath)
A curious and small temple with a unique story— Supposedly, the King (at the time of it’s building) could not enter into this temple for fear that the snakes would come alive and drag him down to the depths of it’s waters, killing him. This displeased the king, the fact that there was somewhere in his kingdom where he could not venture.
In a (what I can assume as snarky) response to this temple’s superstitions, he had an exact replica created on the other side of the city. One he could visit without the fear of being killed by mysterious stone snakes!
*Note: Not pictures are allowed inside the prayer area, only from the outside where you will have to reach above the gate to snap one of the statues.
Stop 3: Kirtipur (Newari Village) (&Lunch!)
~1hr (from Buddhalinkantha) || ~45min (from Bouddhanath)
Known as the “Anarchy village” this temple-laden village is home of an ancient way of life. Many of it’s streets are still as they were around 1100AD, and it’s temple Bagh Bhairab, not only offers astounding views of Kathmandu, but is also the place of one of the most revered gods, Bhairab, in the form of a tiger. Many auspicious events like weddings, hair cuttings, rice-feedings and the like are all preformed here, by the Newar people, after puja.
Like many places of old, Kirtipur has some dark points throughout it’s past, especially as a city reknown for “bucking the system” and standing against rulership. During the mid 1700s, following the Battle of Kirtipur, and Kirtipur’s downfall, the current Gorkhali ruler went through the city cutting the noses off of able bodied men, as a reminder of their insolence.
Kirtipur has remained a fighting city, so much so, that in 2006 it was the place of a peaceful demonstration that lead to a mass uprising and overthrew the powers of the king.
As you enjoy the view and it’s narrow road ways, be sure to stop in to one of the local eating areas for a traditional Newari meal, eaten in traditional style, sitting on a mat on the floor! Along with a good meal, do not forget to try a small cup of their homemade rice wine, and take note as you witness them pour it from above their heads!
Stop 4: Patan Durbar Square
~25min (without Traffic)
A definite tourist destination, you can witness the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, as well as, shop the local stalls! Walk around temples that have existed for more than a millennia, and even see the home of one-of-the only living goddesses, next to Kathmandu Durbar Square (which is more known)!** I’m sure you tired, dirty, and ready to get out of the Kathmandu Traffic, I advise from here, you head towards Thamel! Avoid Ring Road as by this time, it is NOT the place you want to drive. Might I suggest stopping at Fire and Ice pizza for a well deserved beverage and/or pizza?! Or perhaps you’re more in the mood for Nepali food? Thamel, will have everything and anything you could want!
Stop 5: Thamel, and DONE!
~25min (without traffic, allow for 45min-1hr)
You have completed a wonderful day of sight seeing and motorcycle-riding, or perhaps your second day of it, and hopefully you have fallen just a little more in love with the smiles, honking, dust and ancient way of life that is Nepal and it’s wonderful people. ✧
*Note: Most temples require modest dress and a small donation between ~200NPR, but places such as Patan will charge ~1000-1500NPR. The prices are high due to the damage caused by the earthquake and the repairs that are needed.
Perhaps motorcycling isn’t your thing, but you still want to see the main things around the area? Check out 9 Thinks You Must See And Experience in Kathmandu, To Know You Did It Right. (Coming Soon)!