The largest city in the tiny and mountainous Democratic Republic of Nepal, the legendary Kathmandu has been enthralling visitors for decades thanks to its intoxicating blend of ancient history, an enlightened culture, countless exquisite temples, stupas and monasteries and a mountain-valley setting that provides vistas of breath-taking beauty.
Ancient tools and carvings found in the region suggest that Kathmandu's is at least two thousand years old. A city beside the Bishnumati river was first established between the fifth and eight centuries and originally named Kantipur. This city gained a royal palace and eight temple under the rule of King Gunakama Deva in the tenth century, with significant further expansion in the form of temples, pagodas, houses and public squares being undertaken under the Malla dynasty which ruled between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries.
These remarkable ancient buildings and landmarks remain some of Kathmandu's greatest treasures today; Kasthamandap, for example, from which the city takes its most recent name, is a three-storey wooden pagoda built, according to legend, from a single tree in the twelfth century. An exploration of the city's exquisite temples and pagodas is justification for a trip to Kathmandu on its own, but they are just the beginning of the many highlights and wonders that this ancient yet modern city has to offer.