Just 5 kilometers from Kathmandu city lies a rocky hill where the ancient town of Kirtipur sits. It’s name means “kirti” (glory), “pur” (city). While the main Newari area is on a hilltop the town stretches to several neighboring villages.
Kirtipur makes an excellent choice If you would like to have a go at some independent bus travel being only a 25-minute ride from Kathmandu city. Thusly it’s a great town to visit for a first attempt out of Kathmandu city by public transport.
Kirtipur can be visited in a half-day trip making in excellent choice to fill any time you have in Kathmandu. For a full guide to Kirtipur do read my Kathmandu Valley guidebook.
Did you know?
You can view Kirtipur from Swayambhunath as it stands on a rocky outcrop above Kathmandu city
A former capital of the Kathmandu Valley Kirtipur has always been a bit of a rebel. Its history dates back to 1099 AD when it was part of Patan. When King Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded the valley in the 18th century Kirtipur broke away.
However in 1767 Kirtipur was brought back into the kingdom following 23 attempts to conquer it by the King. On the 23rd attempt one of Kirtipur’s noblemen defected and was able to launch a final assault on the beleaguered town. These battles became known as the “Battle of Kirtipur”.
In 2006 Kirtipur became the center for an uprising against the monarchy in Nepal
Whether you take a taxi or a local bus from Ratna Bus park you will likely be left by the bus park at the bottom of Kirtipur hill.
Chilancho Stupa: built back in 1515 by the Emperor Ashoka the harmika is damaged at the top and sits awkwardly these days. Surrounding the Stupa are several brick and white chaitya. The front of the stupa is fenced in to protect thieves from stealing the copper work behind it. Do be careful if visiting this area in the evening as there have been reports of aggressive street dogs
Sadly in early 2017 a vandal destroyed the Buddha faces around this stupa. It doesn't look out of place but you can see where the faces have been removed. It looks to be more the work of a "religious vandal" than theft do to the close cutting of the stone.
Tri Ratna Temple is worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists alike. It encompasses Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The temple took some mild damage in the 2015 earthquake. To the right down a street are two large golden Buddha statues.
Dev Pukku: is Kirtipur’s main water source fed by underground water. To the tank’s left is the very well-preserved former Royal Palace.
The Bagh Bhairab Temple is one of Kirtipur's main attractions. The courtyard is Kirtipur’s finest.. The main courtyard is filled with shrines and temples. It’s worth having a look at a few as they are extremely unique.
Uma Maheshwar Temple is guarded by two elephants wearing saddles made of metal spikes (to keep people off presumably) The temple was originally built in 1663 with four roofs but one was destroyed in the 1934 earthquake.
Shri Kirti Vihara lies at the bottom of Kirtipur and is the only Thai style temple in Nepal outside of Lumbini. It is a Theravada monastery of the southern school of Buddhism and it was built in 1975. At the bottom is the main temple dedicated to the Buddha along side a Thai style pagoda. While to the right is a smaller building with several Buddhist murals and paintings.
As Kirtipur is only 25 minutes from Kathmandu city there really is no need to stay there.
That said the one hotel in the are is not bad and makes for a good overnight getaway. The Kirtipur Hillside Hotel offers slightly dated the rooms which are clean with various sizes to choose from. There’s a restaurant on site with great views over the valley and a rooftop for even more views. I've already found the best price l and you can book a room directly at Kirtipur Hillside Hotel.
Kirtipur’s restaurant scene is touch and go. During off peak season don't expect anything to by open in the old part of the city. Head to Naya Bazaar (where the bus leaves you off).
Newa Lahana: If you are looking for genuine Newari food surrounded by old village utensils and farming equipment then this is the place you’ll find it. Prices are inflated which is a shame. Try the aloo (potato) dishes as a safe bet or Dal Bhat. Otherwise give the spicy Buff Choila a go! (mains $4.50+)
Kirtipur Viewpoint Restaurant: Right beside the Uma Maheshwar Temple you’ll get spectacular views along with standard Chow Mein & Dal Bhat. There is some Newari cuisine on offer too should the cook be inclined. (mains $3.50+)
Map showing Kirtipur in Kathmandu
Take a taxi for 400 rupees from Thamel to Naya Bazaar in Kirtipur 15 minutes. Then on the way back just hail one down in the same location or up at the base of the steps leading to the old town on the hill.
Buses leave every 30 minutes from Kathmandu’s Ratna bus park for 15 rupees. It takes about 25 minutes. Do tell the bus conductor/driver that you want to get off at “Kirtipur - Naya Bazaar”. On the way back it’s the same bus stop, but the stop is across the road.
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