UNESCO World Heritage in Nepal


Get here the name list of UNESCO World Heritage site in Nepal with perfect reasons. UNESCO has enlisted about 900 natural, historical, religious and cultural sites in the list of world heritage.

United Nations Educational, scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) was attracted to some heritages of Nepal and enlisted 10 heritage in the world heritage site: There 10 UNESCO World Heritage site in Nepal. These are the places to see in Nepal.

 UNESCO World Heritage in Nepal

UNESCO i.e United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization has enlisted some of the sites lying in the different countries of the world in the world heritage list. The world heritage lists are the sites or the properties that belongs to all the people of the world.

Similarly, some of the sites of the country Nepal have also been enlisted in the world heritage list. The properties or the sites of Nepal inscribed in the world heritage site can be listed as below:

World heritage cultural sites: under world heritage cultural sites listed by UNESCO, seven sites lies within the Kathmandu valley.Pashupatinath temple, swayambhunath temple, Boudhanath stupa, Kathmandu durbar square, Patan Durbar square, Bhaktapur Durbar square and changunarayan temple are the cultural heritages of Nepal and are enlisted in the world heritage list of Nepal in the cultural category.

Similarly Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha is the next cultural heritage of Nepal listed in the world heritage list. Let’s have the brief information of these heritages below:

1) The famous Pashupatinath temple:

Kathmandu is the city of temples as there are so many temples situated in the Kathmandu valley. Kathmandu valley has the religious importance as several mythological stories have been attached to the temples and monuments.

The temples, monuments built in the Kathmandu valley shows the harmony existing in the place between the two different religions i.e. Hinduism and Buddhism. So in this Kathmandu valley, there are numerous culturally interesting places as well as the numerous beautiful temples to visit.

The most famous Hindu temple attached with the religious importance is situated within the valley at the bank of holy Bagmati River. This sacred Hindu pilgrimage is located at 5 km north east of the Kathmandu valley in the eastern part of the Kathmandu.

People who follow Hindu culture and tradition specially visit this temple from all across the world. Pashupatinath temple has its own importance regarding the Hindu culture. Since the temple and the monuments within the temple premise is built in unique structure and is the sacred pilgrimage for Hindu deities, the temple has been enlisted in the world heritage list of UNESCO since 1979.

Pashupatinath is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu and there is no any certainty about the period when this famous temple was built. But as per some of the Hindu epic like Nepal Mahatmayapashupatinath temple existed about 400 B.C ago.

Besides this, as per the manuscript within the temple premises, the temple was built in the two- story form and during the period of Lichhavi king Supushpathe temple was renovated and several other temples and monuments were built within the temple premises.

Hindu cultured people find this temple as a sacred pilgrimage and have a belief to visit this temple once in their life time. Pashupatinath, the lord of all pashus, which includes both livings as well as non-living things, is the aradhyadev of all Hindu people.

There are many legends that describe the existence of the temple of Lord Pashupatinath. One story is that Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati came here in this Kathmandu valley and they were so amazed and astonished by the beauty of the place, they decided to stay for some period of time.

Therefore, they changed themselves into the form of deer to roam around the forest and enjoy with each other.

Besides, there is also legend attached with the shiv linga of the Pashupatinath temple. Kamdhenu cow (that fulfills the wish) took shelter on the cave of the mountain named chandravan. Everyday kamdhenu cow used to go at the particular spot and pour milk on that spot.

The spot has engraved shiv lingam and after many years, people noticed the activities of kamdhenu cow and decided to explore that particular spot. When the people dig the soil, they found the beautiful and shiny shiva lingam. After this, people started worshipping the shivalingam, which is at present in the Pashupatinath temple.

At present bhatta, vedicbrahman perform the puja of shiv linga. On several occasion, especially at shiv ratri, many people from different countries along with Nepal visit Pashupatinath temple. Therefore, Pashupatinath temple is the sacred Hindu pilgrimage and listed in world cultural heritage site.

2) Buddhist monument Swayambunathtemple:

The next cultural heritage listed in the world heritage list by UNESCO, which is equally important as Pashupatinath temple from the religious and cultural point of view is swayambhunath temple.

The temple with the peace preacher buddha’s eye is located at the top of the hill to the western side of Kathmandu valley. As Pashupatinath temple is a sacred pilgrimage for Hindu religion followers, this is the sacred pilgrimage for the Buddhist religion followers. But for the Tibetan pilgrimage, it is the second sacred pilgrimage after boudha.

The Tibetan people have given the name for this site as “sublime trees” as the different varieties of trees are found on the top of the hill. Beside the main temple, several other small monuments, as well as a temple, is situated within the temple premises.

The mythology and the legend attached to the origin of this monument provide several theories regarding its origination. According to the swayambhupuran, the valley was filled up with the water in the form of a lake and out of this valley, the lotus grew. The self-created valley was named as swayambhu.

The name swayambhu comes from the self-existent flame i.e. svyambhu upon which the stupa was built. Explaining about the stupa, buddha’s eyes are painted along with the eyebrows through which Buddha is looking towards all the four directions and between the two eyes, number one is painted in Devanagari script that looks like the nose.

The temple can be reached through two ways; the first one is through the long staircase 365 in total numbers through which the main platform of the temple can be reached which is towards the eastern side and the next way can be through the car from the south around the hill which will lead towards the south-west entrance.

Swayambunath temple is also known with the name “Monkey temple” and it is because many holy monks live there in the north-west part.

History of Nepal leads back to the period of king Mandev’s grandfather, king Vrsadev, who was the founder of this oldest religious site in Nepal. Though this is the Buddhist monuments, people from both the Hindu as well as Buddhist religion followers visit this religious and cultural site.

There are some artifacts shop, hotels, and restaurants within the temple premises. Thus being the oldest cultural and religious heritage with some mythological stories attached to it, swayambhunath temple made the place in the world cultural heritage list.

3) Boudhanath stupa:

The stupas related to Buddhism reflect the historical and religious tales that enhances their significance from both aspects. Boudhanath is also one of the largest Buddhist monasteries among all the monasteries situated all over the world.

It is located about 11 km from the center and northern side of Kathmandu. Since the stupa has the huge round of mandala, it makes one of the largest spherical stupas of Nepal.

Not only in Nepal, it is also one of the largest stupas in the world too. Boudhanath stupa which is also popularly known as the boudha is one of the sacred pilgrimage and religious sites that have been able to occupy a special place in the heart of people regardless of their religion.

Bouddhanathstupais on the route through which Tibetans used to enter Kathmandu valley through the village of sankhu that lies in the north east corner.

Besides, many Tibetan merchants who used to travel to Nepal for trade used to rest and offer prayers in this heritage site. Even some refugees from Tibet during the 1950 period, entered Nepal and resided around Boudhanath Stupa. This stupa is also said to have etomb the remainings of Kassapa Buddha.

The myth associated with this holy stupas about a rude and ill-mannered shopkeeper. The shopkeeper also had very rude behavior with the customers so they used to never visit their shop. When he died, he was sent to the hell and just the time he was going to sentence for the sins, Lord Buddha came and nullified the sentence.

When Lord Buddha was asked about the act, then he replied though he had committed lots of sins but once while chasing the dog, he had made round of the holy Boudhanath stupa. Therefore, he was given a chance to revive.

After this incident, the belief was set among the people that if a person has committed great sins, then they can encircle the holy stupa so that they get the chance to reconcile with their sins. As per the history, Bouddhanath was founded by Lichhavi king sivadeva but also some of the chronicles relate to the period of King Mandev.

From 1979, the holy Boudhanath stupa is enlisted in the world heritage list of UNESCO in the cultural category. Along with swayambhunath, it is also one of the Buddhist pilgrimage and is visited by many tourists. Many people from abroad visits these stupas and to grab the information regarding the Buddhism and the history related to Lord Buddha.

4) Kathmandu Durbar square:

Kathmandu Durbar square also known as basantapur durbar kshetra is enlisted in the world heritage cultural site by UNESCO. It is one of the three durbar squares of the Kathmandu valley.The palaces within the durbar square represents the reign of different historical kings. Malla and Shah Kings ruled the kingdom of Kathmandu city from the palaces of Kathmandu durbar square.

The Durbar square is also popularly known as “Hanuman dhoka durbar square”, and it is so because of the statue of Hanuman (monkey god), the devotee of Lord Ram in the main entrance of the palace. It is also said that royal palace was originally at the Dattatreya square and it was later shifted to the Durbar square area.

The palace reflects the culture, tradition, and rituals of the legendary kings as well as the architectural framework of that period.

From the period of those legendary kings, within the durbar square premises, several monarch activities is performed which includes the coronation of the monarchial kings too. Similarly, the durbar or the palace is decorated with beautifully carved doors and windows that reflect the architectural talent of the people of those historical times.

Besides, king Tribhuvan memorial museum and king Mahendra memorial museum is also built within the palace. Several temples and statues of different gods and goddesses can be observed within the palace.

Similar is the taleju temple within the durbar premise, which is opened only during the period of Dashain for the visitors and also some other parts of the palace for the visitors. There are almost 10 quadrangles (chowk) within the durbar square premise.

At the southern part, there lies the kumara chowk, which is opened for the visitors to have a look of the only living goddess of Nepal, Kumari. Therefore, this is the place where different religious festivals are celebrated and are the representation of the history of Nepal.

5) Patan Durbar square:

The next durbar square to be enlisted on the UNESCO’S world heritage site is Patan Durbar square, which lies at the central part of the beautiful city, Lalitpur.

The main attraction of this durbar square is the palace of Malla kings. As Kathmandu durbar square, Patan Durbar square is also rich in its own architectural framework that mainly represents the Newari architecture.

Besides, Newari culture, Patan is also the old cities of Buddhist, therefore Buddhist culture is also represented by the Durbar square. The history regarding the durbar square is not clear. Some give the credit of establishing the durbar square to the Malla kings, but some chronicles relate the history with the thakuri dynasty.

But the evidence of thakuri dynasty establishing the royal palace and making some of the reforms in the society is not supported with the sufficient evidence.

Therefore, the history is not clear lacking sufficient evidence though the pradhanascommunity relates the history with the malla reign as they resided around the durbar square area even before the malla reign. But scholars have made it clear with certainty that Patan was the prosperous city from ancient times only.

There are several temples and idols within the durbar square area and the main temples are built facing the western face of the palace. Similarly, the entrance of the temples faces towards the east i.e. towards the palace.

There is a huge bell beside the main temple and besides, several temples and monuments built by the Newari people, the square also holds a number of Newari houses of the people residing within the durbar square.

The main attraction of the Patan Durbar square is Krishna Mandir, where a number of Hindu pilgrims visit during the Krishna Janmashtami. The temple was built by King Siddhi Narasimha Malla in 1637. It is said that once king saw Krishna and Radha standing at the spot and ordered to build the temple on the same spot.

The stone carvings on the first floor of the temple narrate the story of the Mahabharata and that of the second floor narrates the story about Ramayana.

Similarly, other temples of the durbar square area are bhimsen temple, Vishwanath temple and talejubhawani temple, which reflects their own significance. There are three main courtyards in the durbar square area known as chowk and they are mulchowk, sundarichowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk.

Every temple, monuments, and structure within the durbar square area reflects their own significance and history related to them.

6) Bhaktapur Durbar square:

Bhaktapur durbar square is the next durbar square among the three durbars square within the Kathmandu valley. Bhaktapur Durbar square generally is the plaza that lies in front of the palace of the oldest kingdom Bhaktapur.

Talking about the location of the durbar square, it lies in the Bhaktapur city that lies 13 km east of the Kathmandu city. There are four distinct squares within the whole durbar square respectively known as Durbar Square, Taumadhi square, Dattatraya square and Pottery square.

As in other two durbar square, several temples, idols, structures, and monuments are built within the durbar square along with the royal palace that narrates their own legends and history. The major attraction of this durbar square is a royal palace with fifty-five windows also known as 55 window palace and in Nepali, pachpannajhyale durbar.

The fifty-five window palace or the palace of fifty-five windows is built during the period of Malla king YakshaMalla in 1427 A.D. In the period of 17th century, the palace was renovated and restructured by the king BhupatindraMalla.

The wooden carving of pachpannajhyale durbar is considered to be a unique masterpiece structured in that historical period. This durbar is the oldest structure or monument present in Nepal.

Similarly, the next attraction of Bhaktapur durbar square is the statue of King BhupatindraMalla. Of the many different statues in the Durbar square, the statue of king is the most beautiful and magnificent statue.

The statue of the king is in the position of praying with folded hands facing towards the palace and the statue is built on the long column. The next attraction is the Batsala temple where the stone statue of goddess batsala is placed.

The temple is most famous for the silver bell known as “the bell of barking cats’’ because when the bell is rung, dogs usually bark and howl. This bell was hung by KingRanjitMalla in 1737 A.D. and the bell is rung when goddess talejubhawani is worshipped.

The next structure is Nyatapola temple which means five stories temple in Newari language. The temple built in pagoda style is the evidence of architectural perfection and beauty.

Similarly, other attractive structures within the durbar square area are Bhairabnath temple, Golden Gate, Lion’s gate and mini Pashupatinath temple. The palace was originally at the Dattatreya durbar but it was later moved on the royal palace with fifty-five windows.

In order to explore more about the history, the museum can be visited and the knowledge can be grabbed by the visitors.

7) Changunarayan temple:

Changu Narayan temple, the next cultural heritage enlisted in the world heritage list by UNESCO, is considered to be the oldest temple of Nepal. The beautiful change Narayan temple is located on the hill top which is also generally known as changu or dolagiri. The temple is surrounded by the forest with the tree champak and also the small beautiful village named as changu.

Therefore, the temple is situated in the Bhaktapur district in change Narayan VDC of Nepal. Talking about the distance, the temple is located at 12 km east of Kathmandu city and little distance north of Bhaktapur city.

The history of the temples says that the king of Kashmir made his daughter, named as married to the prince of Bhaktapur, hence the temple was named as changu Narayan, after the name of king’s daughter. On the way to reach the temple, the human settlement can be found. Mostly people from the Newar community reside around the temple and village area.

Because the temple is developed as the tourist area, many small and medium-sized hotels, lodges, restaurants are established by various local people. Similarly, several souvenir shops are also set up by the local people that reflect the culture and tradition of the historical period as well as that of the local people.

Besides, on the way to reach the temple, there also lies the ancient stone tap and as per the local people, the tap is believed to have existed since the ancient Lichhavi period.

The temple is dedicated to Narayan i.e. Lord Vishnu and worshipped by the Hindu pilgrims. There are several legends attached to the history of the temple. About 400 yrs ago, there was a warrior named Pranjal and he was challenged by another warrior named changu.

Changu defeated pranjal and was able to win the hearts of Nepalese people. Thus as the tribute to changu, a temple was constructed known as changu Narayan temple.

The monuments and structured that are built within the temple area are the historical pillar (erected by King Mandev), Garuda, statue of king BhupatindraMalla, Chanda Narayan, Vishworup, Narasimha and so on.

These structures narrate their own story and legends. Thus, this oldest temple enlisted in the world heritage cultural sites of Nepal by UNESCO has its own history to narrate to the visitors.

8) Lumbini:

The pilgrimage site that is located in rupandehi district in the Lumbini zone of Nepal and is the famous Buddhist pilgrimage of Nepal. This is the place where queen mayadevi had given birth to the lord Gautam Buddha and his birth name was Siddhartha Gautama.

After he received enlightenment, he became Buddha and founded as well as preached Buddhism. There are number of temples, monasteries, structures, museum and monuments within the temple premise.

Besides temples and other structures, the LumbiniInternattionalResearch Institute is also present within the holy site. Among those temples, Maya Devi temple is the main attraction for the visitors. Along with the Maya Devi temple, the holy pond, named as puskarini is also the center of attraction.

This is the pond where Maya Devi took a dip ritual prior to giving birth to Lord Buddha as well as Gautam Buddha too had the first bath after his birth.

A pillar that is discovered in the year 1896 is the evidence that King Ashoka has visited Lumbini. Before the pillar was not discovered, the place was not known to be Lumbini. Lumbini can be reached through 30-minute drive from Bhairawa after reaching through Gautam Buddha airport at Bhairahawa and 5 hrs drive from Kathmandu too.

Since Lumbini reflects the history of Lord Gautam Buddha, the preacher of peace and Buddhism, it was included in the world heritage cultural sites as enlisted by UNESCO in 1997.

World heritage natural sites:Not only cultural sites but the national parks have also made to enlist it in the world heritage natural sites listed by UNESCO. Two of the national parks, Royal Chitwan national park and Sagarmatha national park are enlisted in the world heritage list. Let’s have the brief information regarding these natural sites also.

9) Royal Chitwan National Park:

Royal Chitwan national park is the first ever national park established in Nepal and it was enlisted in the world heritage list by UNESCO in 1984. The park was established in Nepal in 1973 A.D within the area coverage of 932 km square.

The park is established in the inner Terai area of southern central Nepal. The coverage of national parks extends in the district Nawalparasi, parsa, Chitwan andmakwanpur. It ranges from the altitude of about 100 meter (330 ft) in the river valley to the 815 metre(2674 ft) in the churia hill region.

The climate of the Chitwan national park has a tropical monsoon climate with the high humidity. Since the area is located in the central climatic zone of Himalayas, the monsoon starts in the middle of the June month and slowly ends on the end of the September.

Because of the favorable climate, about 68 species of mammals can be found in the Chitwan national park. The king of the jungle of the national park is the Bengal tiger.

Similarly, leopards are mostly found in the periphery of the national park. They exist together with the Tigers within the national park area and the sloth bears are found to have high population density in the jungle of national park area.

Royal Chitwan national park is also famous for the one-horned rhinoceros, which is a rare species but found in Nepal. Chitwan national park also has the largest population of the Indian rhinoceros.

Beside these species, four horned antelopes, rhesus monkey, Hanuman langurs, Indian porcupines are also the some of the major species found in this national park. Not only the animals, several species of birds like egrets, bitterns, storks, king fishers, pea fowl, jungle fowl are also available within the national park.

Thus the national park has been established as the tourist destinations that can be accessed easily through narayangarh in about two hrs.

10) Sagarmatha National Park:

The next national park to be enlisted in the world heritage natural sites is Sagarmatha national park that lies in the Solu Khumbu district in the Himalayas of the eastern part of Nepal.

This national park has been identified as important bird area by bird life international. The national park was established in 1976 and in 1979; it was enlisted in the world heritage natural sites by UNESCO.

This is the first national park to be included in the world heritage list. The national park is able to provide the habitat to almost 118 species of bird that includes Himalayan moonal, blood pheasant, red-billed chough, yellow-billed chough and so on. Similarly, the species of animals like musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, red panda, Himalayan wolves, langur monkeys are also found in this national park of Nepal.

Since the temperature decreases with the altitude, the amount of oxygen also decreases, therefore the species are adapted to less live on the less oxygen and cold temperatures. When the species of fauna is concerned, blue pines, firs, bamboo, and rhododendron can be found in the lower forested zone.

Above this height, the small shrubs are only found as there is a restriction in the plant life.

This national park has also been able to establish itself as the tourist destination with much of the species of flora and fauna to observe. People can visit this national park in the favorable climatic condition. Therefore, this park is also the natural heritage to be listed in UNESCO’s world heritage list.

Hence, these are the natural and cultural heritage of Nepal to be listed in the world heritage list by UNESCO.

Heritage SiteAttractionEnlisted in World Heritage
1. LumbiniBirthplace of Gautam Buddha, Stupas, Viharas, Ashoka Pillar, Mayadevi temple,    monasteries,    libraries, museum and research center1997A.D
2.  Pashupatinath AreaPashupatinath  Temple,  Aryaghat  (cremation bank), Deupatan, Jaybageshwari,  Gaurighat,  shleshmanatak forest etc. About   492    temples,    1000    shivalingas,    shrines, chaityas,  Ancient  art,   architectures,   sculptures  and carvings1997 A.D
3.  Bauddhanath stupaValuable inscriptions, 45 Buddhist Monasteries1997A.D
4.  Changunarayan temple (Bhaktapur)Inscriptions on stone, wood, and metal, venue of some jatras and festivals .built by Mandeva on Pagoda style1997 A.D
5.  Swayamhunath StupaSeveral shrines, monasteries and idol, the largest idol of Lord Buddha, A temple of goddess Saraswati1997A.D
6. Sagarmatha National ParkArea of 1148 sq.k.m,  lies in Solukhumbu district contains mountain peaks like Everest, Lhotse, Choyu. Vegetation such as rhododendron, dhupi, bhojpatra birds and animals, wild yak, musk deer, red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, Lophophorus1979 A.D
7.  Chitwan National Park
  • 932 sq.k.m., 120 k.m. South-west of Kathmandu
  • Chitwan, Makawanpur, Parsa
  •  Forest, marshes, and rivers
  • Preserve rare and endangered animals line: one-horned rhino spotted tiger,    elephant,    tiger, leopard, bear, crocodile and birds like hornbill and peacock.
1984 A.D
8.  Hanumandhoka Durbar Square
  • Administrative center of many Malla and Shah Kings.
  • Lies in heart of Kathmandu.
  • King Pratap Malla erected the statue of Hanuman in this place in the Medieval period. Since then it is ka Hanumandhoka.
1997 A.D
  • The masterpiece of Nepali Art and Architecture.
  • Attractions: Hanumandhoka, Basantapur palace, Museum, Kumari Ghar, Kasthamandap, a huge bell and kettle drum.
9.  Patan       Durbar Square
  • Krishna Mandir, Bhimsen temple, Taleju temple, Temple of Ratomachhindranath.
  • A masterpiece of art and architecture of the Malla Period.
1997 A.D
10. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
  • Nyatapola temple, fifty-five windowed palace.
  • Carvings on walls, windows, and doors of the fifty-five windowed palace are beautiful.
1997 A.D

UNESCO World Heritage in Nepal

Written by

Jitendra Sahayogee

I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a Writer of 12 Nepali Books, Director of Maithili films, Founder of Radio Stations, Designer of Websites and Editor of Some Nepali Blogs.

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