Kirtipur is a medieval town perched on a hill above Patan and Kathmandu with very good views over the valley and over the mountains (when the sky is clear). In the centre of the old town, there is a square with several beautiful temples with elaborate artistic and architectural details. Crossing a few gates, you reach another large square with an old, half-abandoned palace, the white Narayan temple and a large “Pokari” (well), Here you may be able to taste the “khajuri”, a fried, rhomboid-shaped pastry, very traditional in the old days. Not so many years ago it was one of the few extras that children, and not so children, could enjoy, and nowadays it is not easy to find them. Strolling and getting lost in the streets of old Kirtipur is always an interesting experience.
Following the street northwards, you reach one of the old village gates, which still has the old wooden doors, where, down the stairs and across the road, you come to the Buddhist monastery of Karma Lekshey Ling, one of the many Buddhist monasteries in the valley, which in this case is home to a community of nuns. Every day at 4 p.m. there is a “puja” in the temple, the recitation and chanting of sutras. It is not necessary to stay the whole time, but it is an interesting experience. Let yourself be carried away by the monotonous rhythm of the voices and instruments.
Further south of Kirtipur, on both sides of the Baghmanti River valley, are some untouristy villages that may be of interest.
On the very western slope of Kirtipur, Chobhar is known for the small gorge through which the Baghmati River must shrink to pass between the rock walls. Tradition says it was cut with a magic sword to evacuate the water from the lake where Kathmandu now stands. There is a suspension bridge to get a good view of the gorge. But what we like best is the Jal Binayak temple, on the other side of the road, which is well worth a visit. There are usually no tourists here and it is an interesting local temple, with the curiosity of its small wooden carvings with explicit “positions”.
Further south, Pharping, a Newar-style Buddhist holy site, is an important pilgrimage centre with many Buddhist monasteries and schools.
Near Pharping is the Hindu temple of Dakshin-Kali, dedicated to the goddess Kali (the black goddess) where a lot of animal sacrifices are made, usually chickens and goats, so it’s not very pleasant place. In fact, there is currently a movement in Nepal that questions the number of animal sacrifices that are made in the country temples, in places like Dakshin-Kali or Manacamana.
On the eastern side of the valley, Bungamati is a small town where its central square, full of small temples, was quite devastated. Bungamati is a good example of the small towns around Kathmandu and is renowned for its woodcarving craftsmen, of whom there are many workshops. You will see many artisans working on their figures, some of which are truly spectacular.
Not far from there is the small rural village of Khokana surrounded by farmland, a very simple village, with the odd Newar temple and other small coloured temples scattered around.