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Updated: July 2013
The following reference information is included:
My rating scale: Excellent ; Very Good ; Good ; Fair ; Poor.
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Lonely Planet is my favourite series with the right amount of detail, well written and accurate.
If you are just going to be in Kathmandu for a day or two before trekking, this book has a basic section on Kathmandu. Lonely Planet is my favourite series with the right amount of detail, well written and accurate.
by Jamie McGuinness. If you are just going to be in Kathmandu for a day or two before trekking to Everest, this book has a basic section on Kathmandu. This is the best trekking book I have ever used. The maps are especially detailed and accurate.
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Kathmandu is featured in several photographic and fictional books.
by Richard I'Anson. First published 2007. A large coffee-table type book featuring over 400 photos from renowned photographer Richard L’Anson. Chapters include Kathmandu and Kathmandu Valley (112 pages), Chitwan (20 pages), the Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary (54 pages), Upper Mustang (20 pages), and the Mount Everest Khumbu region (51 pages). The front cover is Annapurna South Face.
Kathmandu is the largest portion of this perfect pictorial book. In addition to Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur tourist attractions, there are photos of other smaller villages in the valley and from Nagarkot. There are also photos of many of the festivals including Dasain, Indra Chatra, Holi, and Losar.
This is my favourite Nepal photo book. It features all of the main tourist areas. The photos are spectacular.
by Dieter Glogowski, German TV and photo journalist. First published 2000. This photo book, with text in German, highlights the Hindu sadhus, Buddhist monks, and devout pilgrims. The front cover shows a Hindu sadhu and two young Buddhist monks in front of Dhaulagiri. There is also a very good German documentary video, with the same title, of an 85-year-old Hindu sadhu and his two teenage students, on pilgrimage from Kathmandu to Muktinath.
About half of this book features the Kathmandu area, including Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath and Hindu sadhus, Patan, Bhaktapur, and a few festival photos. The Kali Gandaki Valley up to Muktinath is featured in about a quarter of the book. There is a beautiful photo of Annapurna South and Machapuchare, a photo of Annapurna from Upper Mustang, three photos of Nilgiri, and six photos of Dhaulagiri. Upper Mustang is featured in about a quarter of the book, including the villages along the way and the walled city of Lo Manthang. There is a short chapter on Janakpur in the Terai.
Dieter Glogowski is my favourite active photographer. The photos are excellent. There are very few words in this book, so you're not missing much if you can't understand German - the pictures speak for themselves.
Photos by Fredrik Arvidsson, text by Kerry Moran. A coffee-table photographic book, with some text by Kerry Moran. The book features Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, and other valley locations. It includes the scenery, the houses, the temples and stupas, the people, and their religious practices, with a hint of the mountains visible on clearer days from the valley.
The 160 colour photos are superb, crisp and clear. Moran’s text is fairly brief and basic.
If you want to glance through one coffee-table photographic book before traveling to Kathmandu or to recapture memories, this is the book.
Editors James O'Reilly and Larry Habegger. Published 1997. Another in the Travelers series of travel anthologies, this time capturing the experience of Nepal in 38 stories organized into five sections: Essence of Nepal, Some Things to Do, Going Your Own Way, In the Shadows, and The Last Word.
My favourite stories are: A Nosy Neighbour by Broughton Coburn about a leech who had crawled up his nose, and how to get it out; The Art Of Walking by Jack Bennett about how to trek; Jewel Of The Nagas by Ian Baker about trying to buy a sacred jewel; The Call Of Kala Patthar by Jimmy Carter about his trek in the Solu-Khumbu; Democracy Day by Alison Wright about how the 1990 revolution in Kathmandu became deadly dangerous; Avalanche by Brian Weirum about being trapped on Mount Meru in the 1995 deadly snowstorm.
I am a fan of the Travelers Tales series and find that they provide more memorable ideas about a place than just reading a guide book.
by Claudio Tessarolo. Published 2006 in Italian. This mostly photographic coffee-table book tells the story of a group of Italian mountaineers taking the Torino 2006 Olympic torch bearing a message of peace autographed by the Dalai Lama to the summit of Makalu in 2006. Mario Vielmo said that the main aim of bringing the torch to Makalu was to wish for peace and prosperity in Nepal and to develop brotherhood between Nepal and Italy.
The book starts with a visit to Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama who signed the Torino 2006 Olympic torch. They then travelled to Kathmandu, visiting all the major tourist sights including Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Patan, and Bhaktapur.
The team then trekked from Tumlingtar to Makalu Base Camp, with Tom Perry (Antonio Peretti) carrying the Olympic torch all the way barefoot. After the Puja, they did acclimatization climbs, and then prepared for the summit push. Mario Vielma, Renzo Benedetti, Angelo Giovanetti, Daniele Bernasconi, Mario Panzeri, and Temba Wangdi reached the Makalu summit on May 24, 2006.
The photos are excellent. The Kathmandu main sights are all shown. The trek to base camp shows the villages, people, and the terrain. All the key features of the climbing route are illustrated with beautiful photos.
by Breffni Bolze, Lionel Fargeix, Remi Deluzarche, Cyril Kotenkoff, Matthieu Constantin, Francois-Xavier Cierco, David Amans, Carron Scrimgeour. Published 2003 in French. Dhaulagiri Cured is the story of a group of eight young mountaineer friends who decided to clean up Dhaulagiri North Base Camp from the waste left behind by mountaineers and trekkers.
In 2001 they traveled to Kathmandu and trekked to the Annapurna Sanctuary and Dhaulagiri North Base Camp. In 2002 they returned to Kathmandu and trekked to Hidden Valley and Muktinath. They burned 500kg of cartons, textiles and plastics; transported 122kg of metal and 80kg of glass to Pokhara to be recycled; and 20kg of batteries to France to be recycled.
Even if you don't understand French, the photos are excellent.
by Joe Bindloss. Published 2006. A small gem of a book, with excellent photos and very good brief descriptions.
From the page titled Personality: It is hard to find words that do justice to wonderful Kathmandu. One ridge away from the highest mountains in the world and thronged by a million Hindus and Buddhists, this princely city is the archetypal mountain kingdom - mystical, magical and arcane. Temples loom out of the mist around every corner and the cobbled streets resound with the chanting of mantras and the chiming of temple bells. At dusk, the city is transformed into a cut-out of stupas, prayer flags and temple spires.
by Samrat Upadhyay. Published 2001. This former resident of Kathmandu has written nine entertaining short stores that bring different aspects of Kathmandu, its people, and history to life. The stories range from arranged marriages to attending live theatre to teenage pregnancy to making love with your secretary.
If I was rating just the stories from a reading fiction perspective, I would give this book 4 stars. But, from getting to know and appreciate Kathmandu better from a travel perspective, I much prefer the Travelers Tales.
Photos by Geoff Cloke, text by Kerry Moran. Published 2001. A coffee-table photographic book, with some text by Kerry Moran. The photos feature Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, and other valley locations. It includes the scenery, the houses, the temples and stupas, the people. Moran’s text is a subset of the other Kathmandu Valley photo book (above).
The photos are fairly basic. I'm not sure why, but either to keep the size of the book smaller, or to show as many photos as possible, many of the photos are small and cluttered together on pages.
by David Paterson. First published 1990. This large coffee-table photo book features Kathmandu and the author’s treks from Lamosangu to Lobuche Base Camp and Everest in 1979, the Annapurna Sanctuary in 1979, Rolwaling and the Tesi Lapcha pass to Gokyo in 1981, the Annapurna Circuit in 1984, Ganesh Himal in 1987, the Arun Valley from Hille to Makalu in 1988. The front cover is Ama Dablam.
You can see some of David Paterson's photos at his website wildcountry.uk.com.
The photos are very good, especially of the people of Kathmandu.
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For general information on Kathmandu, I check the following:
There are many travel websites, with my favourites being:
I thoroughly enjoy reading other people's travelogues and looking through their photos:
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Welt Weit. Released 2005. 52 minutes. In German. This DVD also has a bonus feature visiting Delhi and Agra in India (26 minutes). In Kathmandu, we see Thamel, Durbar Square with its Buddhist and Hindu temples, street scenes with busy markets, shops where you can buy pashmina, a thangka, statue or a carving. Pilgrims circle Boudhanath and then climb the steps to circle Swayambhunath, the Monkey temple, and look at the Kathmandu panorama. Next is Patan's temple-choked Durbar Square.
After a brief early morning view of the nearby Himalayan mountains, there is a visit to Changu Narayan temple, and the Reclining Vishnu statue at Budhanilkantha. The people turn out en masse for the colourful, but blood-soaked, Dakshin Kali Temple. The people, streets and temples of Bhaktapur are next before visiting Pashupatinath, with colourful sadhus and Hindus, and the burning ghats. The last scene is not in Kathmandu, but in Chitwan for a ride on an elephant to see rhinoceroses.
Although the narration is in German, I think the video speaks for itself in any language. Beautifully filmed, especially Pashupatinath. Nicely paced - just the right amount of time per site.
Directed by John-Paul Davidson and Roger Mills Shown on TV in 2004. Six episodes. 352 minutes. BBC. Extras include 31 minutes of interviews with Michael and 124 minutes of deleted scenes. Episode 3 Annapurna to Everest (59 minutes plus 29 minutes of deleted scenes) features Annapurna, Kathmandu (12 minutes plus 2 minutes of deleted scenes), and Everest North Base Camp. The cover is Michael Palin on Khyber Pass Railway and Annapurna, Annapurna South and Hiunchuli from Lekhani.
Kathmandu opens with chaotic street scenes jammed with people and various types of motor vehicles. They visit Durbar Square in Patan and Swayambhunath with the editor of the Nepali Times, who talks about their heritage, the Maoist conflict, and how Manjushri drained the valley to create Kathmandu. They visit the Royal Palace to receive the King's blessing at the Hindu Festival of Dasai, also called Dasain. The next morning they visit Pashupatinath with the burning ghats and colourful sadhus. They meet 86-year-old Hanuman Baba, who was featured in the German film Nepal - Wo Shiva auf Buddha trifft, who performs some acrobatic yoga for Michael. They observe the rituals of a cremation
Beautifully filmed, especially Pashupatinath. Nicely paced. Michael Palin is very entertaining. I was disappointed that some key tourist sights like Boudhanath and Kathmandu's Durbar Square were not included.
Directed by Peter Weinert. Released 2001. 43 minutes. In German. This documentary follows German TV and photo journalist Dieter Glogowski, and 85-year-old Hindu sadhu Hanuman Baba and his two teenage students, on pilgrimage from Pashupatinath, Durbar Square, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath in Kathmandu, trekking up the Kali Gandaki Valley, and visiting the Buddhist and Hindu shrines at Muktinath, arriving in cold and snow conditions. On the way they pass Pokhara, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna from Ghorepani, Tatopani, Marpha, Dhaulagiri, Kagbeni and Jharkot. There is a 15 minute bonus showing how they made the movie, both on location and in the studio. A book with the same name by Dieter Glogowski contains excellent photos from this trip, plus a few other Nepal regions.
Along the way we get to see some of the Hindu practices including smoking hashish, how they put on their facial and body paint, chanting, washing, and practicing yoga. We also get to see Buddhist pilgrims spinning prayer wheels, young monks being taught by an older monk, the Wheel Of Life, chortens and prayer flags.
Although the narration is in German, I think the video speaks for itself in any language. The filming is excellent, with the Making Of bonus showing what they had to do to to get some of the scenes. My favourite scenes are the sadhus at Pashupatinath, how the students wash Hanuman Baba's 2.5m long hair, and one of the teenage students practicing yoga with Dhaulagiri as a backdrop. The views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna from Ghorepani are excellent.
by Cosmos Global Documentaries. Released 2007. 52 minutes. In English. This tourist video features the three ancient Nepalese royal cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and Pashupatinath are featured in the Kathmandu Valley Of The Gods DVD.
The focus of the Kathmandu section is Durbar Square, including Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kala Bhairav statue, and Kasthamandap, Trailokya Mohan Narayan, and Mahendreswor Temples. The chaotic streets, markets, and shops are also shown.
Bhaktapur features the Dattatraya and Nyatapole Temples, and Durbar Square, including the Palace of 55 Windows, the Golden Gate, Naga Pokhari, and Vatsala Temple. The peacock window, potters square, narrow alleys, shops, people and kids are also shown.
As opposed to the Malla cities of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur that were mainly influenced by the Hindu religion, Patan was for many years a major Buddhist city. Patan features the 5-story Kumbeshwar Temple, the Mahabouddha Temple of a thousands images of Buddha, the Golden Temple, and Durbar Square.
The history of each city is briefly but well described and is illustrated with the video of the sights. I especially enjoyed the video and commentary of the Golden Temple in Patan. The colour is a bit washed out at times, especially in bright sunlight.
by Cosmos Global Documentaries. Released 2007. 52 minutes. In English. This tourist video features about five minutes for each of Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan, Bhaktapur, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Changu Narayan, Dakshinkali, and Kirtipur. There are very brief mentions of Chobar, Panauti, Banepa, and Dhulikel. Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan are featured in much more detail in The Three Royal Cities Of Nepal DVD.
This is the perfect video if you want an overview of the Kathmandu Valley cities and sights. The colour is a bit washed out at times, especially in bright sunlight.
by Pascal Varambon. Released 2006. 100 minutes. In French and English. The main part of this video follows trekker Daphne Beauvais, guide Serre, and porter Sunbaader on their trek around Annapurna. A 14 minute of bonus feature is Katmandou et sa Vallee (Kathmandu and Valley), and features the people of Kathmandu and the sights of Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath with scenes of the February Shivaratri festival, and Bhaktapur.
The bonus on Kathmandu is excellent, showing the main tourists sights, and the Shivratri scenes are spectacular.
Filmed by Rick Hunt in September and October 2000. 47 minutes. In Kathmandu a tour group visits the main tourist attractions, including Durbar Square and marketplace, Swayambhunath, the Kumari Palace, a rickshaw ride, a show by local dancers, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Durbar Square and Golden Temple in Patan, making and buying Pashmina shawls, and Bhaktapur.
This is a home video with shaky camera work, fast zooms, fast turns, and poor audio quality. You can even hear the camera man laughing and speaking under his breath. Put that aside, however, and it was not bad for a home movie. Swayambhunath and Pashupatinath were fairly well done with good filming and some good commentary by their tour guide. Durbar Square and Boudhanath did not feature as prominently as they should. The rickshaw ride through the chaotic streets was fun. The scene of local dancers entertaining them at dinner went on way too long.
They visited the nearby towns of Patan and Bhaktapur, with Patan's Durbar Square being a highlight.
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