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Kathmandu Altitude: detailed altitude information in Nepal and Kathmandu

October,11 2018 BY Sonam Tenphel 0 COMMENTS

A bowl-shaped valley in the center of Nepal, the Kathmandu Valley is one of the most unique geographical locations in the country, ringed by four different mountain ranges. At its lowest elevation, the valley lies at around 1,425 meters, and surrounding it, the mountain ranges include the Shivapuri (2,800m), the Phulchowki (2,795m), the Nagarjun (2,825m), and the Chandragiri (2,551m). Flowing through the center of the valley, the Bagmati River runs from north to south, exiting the valley through a gap in the southern mountain ranges.

The city itself lies in the northwestern part of the valley, at an elevation of around 1,400 meters. At this low elevation, altitude sickness is never a problem, and the chances of feeling any of the symptoms are rare to none. As the center of the valley is at a lower elevation than the surrounding hills, most of the trees that fill the valley floor are deciduous, made up of maples, oaks, elm, and beech trees, with some coniferous trees at the higher altitudes of the surrounding mountains.

Altitude of Three Major Districts of Kathmandu

The Kathmandu Valley is made up primarily of the three major districts, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur, which cover an area of around 570 square kilometers of the valley floor and make up the cultural and political hub of Nepal.

Altitude of Kathmandu District, 1,280 - 1,340 meters

The Kathmandu District of Nepal lies at altitudes between 1,280 meters and 1,340 meters, and lies in the lowest points of the Kathmandu Valley. The area of the district covers around 395 square kilometers and is the most densely populated district in Nepal, with a population in excess of two million inhabitants.

 Swayambhunath Stupa Swayambhunath Stupa - one of the major attractions in the Kathmandu valley.

Most of the major attractions in the Kathmandu valley are centered around the Kathmandu District, with the Swayambhunath Stupa and Kathmandu Royal Durbar Square in the west and the Pashupatinath Temple located in the northeast of the district. It is also the location of the Thamel District of Kathmandu, the tourist center in the city, as well as being the home of the Tribhuvan International Airport. Find more information at Nepal tourist map.

Altitude of Lalitpur District, 1,324 - 2,300 meters

Stretching from Patan to the south of the Kathmandu District, to Gimdi in the southern mountain range of Phulchowki, Lalitpur is a district that covers an area mostly made up of open grasslands and rolling hills and mountains to the south of Kathmandu District. At its lowest point, in Patan, the district lies at around 1,324 meters, ascending to around 2,300 meters at its highest point in the south of the District.

 Patan Durbar SquarePatan - the most popular attraction in Lalitpur.

The area has a population of just 466,000 inhabitants, and covers around 385 square kilometers. Patan is the most popular attraction in Lalitpur, with the Patan Potala, the City Museum, the Mahadev Temple, and the Rani Ki Vav to name a few. Further south, there are a couple of dams that are an experience to visit, as well as the Idgah Mosque and an area in the mountains that makes for great low-altitude trekking.

Altitude of Bhaktapur District, 1,320 - 1,350 meters

Bhaktapur District lies to the east of Kathmandu, and is the smallest of the three districts, covering an area of only 119 square kilometers. With a small population of around 304,000 inhabitants, this small but densely populated district is affectionately known by the locals as Khowpa. And while it may be the smallest district in Nepal, it has the highest literacy rate in the country, with more than 81 percent of adults being able to read and write.

Bhaktapur Durbar SquareBhaktapur Durbar Square - one of attractions in Bhaktapur.

The district has an average elevation of around 1,320 meters, and at its highest point is a mere 1,350 meters above sea level. The area, though small, does have a large number of attractions, including the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the Pottery Square, the Nyatapola Temple, and the Dattatreya Temple.

Altitude of Top 4 Mountains Surrounding Kathmandu

Surrounding the Kathmandu Valley are four different mountains, lying in their own small mountain ranges, which are the main trekking hills within the valley and great places to travel around on foot or by mountain bike.

Shivapuri, 2,800 meters

Shivapuri Peak, at an altitude of 2,800 meters, is the second highest mountain around Kathmandu, and lies to the north of the Kathmandu Valley. A sacred peak in the Hindu religion, the mountain is covered with forests and the summit offers some amazing views down over the valley and of the high peaks of the Himalayas to the north.

 Shivapuri MountainShivapuri Mountain - the second highest mountain around Kathmandu.

Lying within the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, the mountain is an important water-catchment area of the Kathmandu Valley, and is a major supplier of the daily water needs of the city. At the foot of the mountain lies the Shivapuri Village, a small settlement that serves as a major organic vegetable producer for the hotels in Kathmandu, and is home to one of the most luxurious retreats in the Kathmandu Valley. Once a Buddhist retreat, it is rumored that Buddha himself once stayed there.

Phulchowki, 2,795 meters

At an altitude of 2,795 meters above sea level, Phulchowki is the highest point in the south of the Kathmandu Valley, and the name means “Hill of Flowers” in Nepali. Covered by forests of rhododendrons of different colors, from pure white to dark red, the mountain is one of the best places in the south of the valley for hiking, and is easily accessible by car to the foot.

Phulchowki HillPhulchowki - the highest point in the south of the Kathmandu Valley.

Providing some of the best views of the Kathmandu Valley, the area below the mountain is a botanical garden, filled with exotic plants and flowers, and is a perfect place for birdwatching. The temple lies at the top of the hill, surrounded by prayer flags and raw brown earth. Unfortunately, the view of the temple is rather spoilt by the radio and television mast that stands next to it, protected by a small military camp.

Nagarjun, 2,825 meters

Also located within the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, Nagarjun Peak is the highest of the four peaks surrounding Kathmandu, at an altitude of 2,825 meters, and is a popular hiking destination from the city. Only around seven Kilometers from the outskirts of Kathmandu District, it is a ten-minute drive to the park. Also known locally as the Jamacho Peak, this small mountain lies to the west of the Kathmandu District, and the hike to the top takes around two hours through dense Raniban forests.

Nagarjun PeakNagarjun Peak - the highest of the four peaks surrounding Kathmandu.

The hill is famous for its historical and religious significance, and the summit has one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries and stupas in the Kathmandu Valley built on it. Lower down, in the forests, are some of the religious hermitage caves that were used more than a thousand years ago by the local monks and lamas for meditation.

Chandragiri, 2,551 meters

Lying on the western side of Kathmandu, Chandragiri Hill is only 2,551 meters above sea level, but is one of the most famous of the four hills around the valley. Providing excellent panoramic views of Mount Everest and the Annapurna Range, the hill is one of only four passes into the Kathmandu Valley, and was the main travel route and historic trade route into and out of the valley, prior to the construction of the Tribhuvan Highway.

Chandragiri HillChandragiri Hill - one of the most famous of the four hills around Kathmandu valley

Thousands of years of history surround the hill, including the Lament of King Malla, who wept on seeing his kingdom for the last time after the unification of Nepal and his mistaken trust in the Gorkhali King. The top of the hill is the site of the Bhaleshore Mahadev temple of Lord Shiva, and legend tells that, during his unification campaign in the Kathmandu Valley, the Gorkhali King, Prithivi Narayan Shah, prayed at the temple before riding down to conquer the Malla Kingdom in the valley.

Conclusion

The Kathmandu Valley is more than just the capital city, and if you have the time to explore a little, you can discover plenty of off-the-beaten-track locations around the valley and in the hills that surround it. Some of the most historical locations in the valley lie in those hills, and are pretty much undiscovered by all but a few die-hard trekkers and explorers that have ventured out from the capital to explore the local area outside the tourist traps. - Check Top 10 Things to Do in Kathmandu, Nepal

The Kathmandu Valley is one of the crossroads of the ancient civilizations of Nepal and Asia, and until the 15th century, the capital was at Bhaktapur, not Kathmandu. As you venture further out from the center of the city and the main tourist areas, the valley shows its real face, that of divine beauty and delightful scenery, ringed with small mountains and framed in the background by the massive Himalayas. Legend says that this serene valley was once a lake, and that the god Manjusri cut a path through the mountains to the south to let out the waters. Other legends tell of how one lama, on seeing a beautiful lotus flower in the center of the lake, cut a gorge to drain the waters so he could hold the stunning flower. Whichever legend you prefer, it has to be said that the valley that was left is definitely one of the most beautiful in the world, and well worth exploring. Check Nepal tour here and find the one suiting you best. And you can also contact our Nepal travel gurus to work out your own trip to Kathmandu Valley.

Sonam Tenphel

About the Author - Sonam Tenphel

Energetic, responsible and reliable, Sonam is a guide with more than seven years experience informing visitors about heritage sites and attractions places in Tibet.

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