Visit the Newari villages of Bungamati and Khokana on a day trip from Kathmandu. See traditional houses and experience a culture reminiscent of medieval times. Visit the Rato Machhendranath and Karya Binayak temples, and see master woodcarvers at work.
Although Bungamati is just 10 kilometers from Kathmandu, the lack of easy access to the city and the rest of Nepal has spared it from much of the development and cultural degradation that has occurred in other places.
On this excursion you’ll admire the traditional architecture and rich culture that are reminiscent of the medieval era. You’ll see women, men, and children sitting in the streets or in common courtyards, weaving, chatting, playing, and working under the sun.
As you walk along the streets, you’ll find dozens of masterful wood carvers and sculptors offering you handcrafted items at bargain prices. Most of them work from home and they may even offer you other articles for sale as well.
The women spend their spare time weaving, knitting, and hand sewing. However, the village is probably best known for its woodcarvers, whose expertise in their field becomes readily apparent.
Bungamati and Khokana date back to the 16th century or earlier, and both villages boast some very impressive monuments and ancient temples.
Bungamati is the birthplace of Rato Machhendranath, the patron of the valley, and the large shikhara-style temple in the village square is his home for half of the year. He spends the rest of his time in Patan. The process of moving him around Patan and to Bungamati and back is central to one of the valley’s most important annual festivals.
In the ckowk around the temple you can see the heart of a functioning Newari town. See the many chortens and a huge prayer wheel, clearly pointing to the diverse religious traditions.
Between Bungamati and Khokana you’ll find the Karya Binayak Temple, dedicated to Ganesh. The views from this spot are spectacular, and you can look out over the Bungamati valley to the foothills.
Khokana is situated just north of Bungamati. It is a tiny Newari village with a reputation for its mustard oil and the local temple. The Newari who live here eke out a simple living off the land.
You’ll find that no matter where you go in this tiny village, a large 3-storied temple will catch your eye. The temple is dedicated to the local mother goddess, Shikali Mai. A similar temple to the north-east of the village is used during times of epidemics.
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