The founding of the city of Kathmandu, however, is dated back to year 723. For centuries it belonged to the people of Newar. The first buildings appeared near a trading road which led to Tibet, and a resting spot used by the travelers. The independent district of Kantipur reached its peak during the reign of the Malla dynasty and the building of the most prominent architectural monuments also occurred during that period of time. However the members of the Malla family reigned not only in Kantipur but also in other major cities in the Valley, which constantly tried to surpass each other in beauty and glory. Amongst them were Patan and Bhaktapur. The conflicts between Newarian cities finally led to their conquest by a Gurkha leader Prithvi Narayan Shah, whose descendents united Nepal. Kathmandu soon became the capital of the newborn country. Its name, when translated from Sanskrit, means ”a wooden house”.
THE MODERN CITY
The capital of Nepal is also the biggest city of the country. Its population is nearly a million people. The separation from the rest of the world by a range of high mountains led to Kathmandu developing unique features and a distinctive style of architecture, which has remained unchanged since the middle ages.
Within less than thirty years, the population of Kathmandu has doubled. The main reason is the migration within Nepal itself. Most of the buildings in the city are traditional red brick houses with two or three stairs and wooden, beautifully carved window frames. However, the more modern buildings combine Nepalese stylistic elements with modern, innovative ones. The streets, just like back in the day, are laid with natural stone. The capital, just like the Kathmandu valley, has a multitude of beautiful temples which, according to locals, serve as homes to ten million gods. The Tribhuvan International airport and several highways are also located in Kathmandu.
The economy of Nepal is mostly based on the following three aspects: textile production, food production and artisanal crafts such as pottery, souvenirs and jewelry. The role of the tourism industry is nevertheless gradually becoming more and more important. Many companies have taken on providing services for tourists and mountain climbers since the route to the bottom of Jomolungma.
The Kathmandu valley located 1300 meters above sea level used to be the bottom of a mountain lake. Geologists claim that the waters flowed away due to an earthquake approximately twelve thousand years ago but a legend claims something else entirely.
According to the legend the lake rippling in the valley once was incredibly beautiful. Once a wandering elder. Amazed by the beauty of the place he predicted, that someday a big, prosperous city will be where the lake then was, and decided to end his earthly path there. The elder sailed to a tiny island and there he became a beautiful flower of white lotus. Nine centuries passed but the prediction just would not come true. The lake was smooth and quiet and the flower was still swaying in the wind, spreading its amazing aroma.
But once, when the tide was especially high and the small island was almost completely submerged under the water with only the flower still safe on land, another traveler appeared on the shore. He was the bodhisattva Manjushri who possessed a magical sword made from a ray of sun. Enchanted by the elegance of the flower, he could not let the water approaching from the mountains consume it. The bodhisattva raised himself up into the air and split the ground near the lake with his sword. There a deep canyon later named Chobhar, through which the water soon started flowing away. Where once was a lake, now was an even valley and soon a city emerged in it. The tiny island where the lotus bloomed turned out to be the top of a hill. Later the famous monastery of Swayambhunath was built there.