Katmandu is the capital city of Nepal; your placement can be within the city itself or in the urban or rural set up. The rural area, can provide mountain like placements. This area covers about 218sq miles and includes a lot of the Nepal’s cultural heritage i.e. Bhaktapur, Buddha, Swayambhu, Pasupatinath etc.
All of the villages are located within a half to one and an hour’s bus ride to Kathmandu’s center. Most of the villages have well developed infrastructure, with water readily available, and reliable roads. Primarily, the village economy is agrarian – so you will eat many fresh vegetables. Local phone calls can usually be made and international phone calls accepted, but Internet access is usually not available.
Explore the wonders of Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the capital and largest city of Nepal. It is situated in a valley in the heart of Nepal. The entire terrain of Kathmandu is like a steep incline, descending from the Himalayan heights to the Terai flatland within a short distance.
Kathmandu is truly the heart of the Himalayas, it has a wonderful history that goes back to about two hundred years and a very refined culture, the richest of all in Asia. Kathmandu attracts many tourists all year round, and it is not only just a tourist destination it is also an important business hub and a sacred place for pilgrims.
It is said that Kathmandu has been found by king Gun Kamdev in AD 723. According to the legend, the area was a lake in the past, but Manjushri, a disciple of the Shakyamuni Buddha, cut open a hill to the south and allowed the water to flow out, making the region habitable. The origin of the present name is unclear, but one of the more likely theories is that it was named after Kastha-Mandap (“temple of wood” in Sanskrit), after a pagoda carved from the single tree on the order of King Lakshmi Narasingha Malla in 1596.
The old city is noted for its many Buddhist and Hindu temples and palaces, most dating from the 17th century. One good example is the Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. This Durbar Square was built in the 16th century. It contains a marvelous royal palace and many temples built in the traditional Newar, Pagoda style. In the square is a house called the Kumari Chowk. The Kumari Chowk is home to Nepal’s ‘Kumari’ – a little girl that is chosen as the living incarnation of the Hindu goddess.
The old royal palace is a part of Durbar Square, which remains the traditional heart of the old town and a spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. The king no longer lives here and the 1934 earthquake damaged the complex, but it remains a fascinating place to explore.
General Kathmandu Volunteer Information
Volunteers in the Kathmandu area either home stay with local families or if working in an orphanage they often stay in the orphanage. Nepali people are extremely hospitable and volunteers will be well looked after however the accommodation will be typically Nepali and therefore basic by Western standards. Toilets and showers are usually Nepali style and the electricity supply in Kathmandu is unreliable with scheduled 3 hour power outages for much of the year. We have four different home stay families in the area all of whom have lots of previous experience with looking after volunteers. Volunteers staying in orphanages are given their own room within the orphanage.
Weather in the Kathmandu valley is some of the most moderate in Nepal. In summer (May to September) the temperature rarely rises much above 30 degrees, the monsoon season (June to September) is less dramatic than most areas and winter temperatures (December to February) are usually above 10 degrees during the day with snow being extremely rare. It can get quite cold at night especially in the higher elevations around Kathmandu.
The staple food for most Nepali families and in orphanages is “Dal Bhat” which consists of rice (Bhat), lentil soup (dal) and vegetables in curry (Tarkari) and/or meat (Masu) and a small amount of pickle /sauce (Achar), other popular Nepali foods are either Indian or Tibetan influenced with lots of curries, breads and potato based dishes. There is a massive selection of international food in Kathmandu although most of this is around the Thamel area. Volunteers can either eat with their host family or go out to eat, although the variety of locally available food will depend greatly on where in the area they are located and their proximity to Thamel. Volunteers from other areas of Kathmandu usually travel into Thamel on weekends to socialize with other volunteers and eat Western food. A typical meal in Kathmandu will cost anywhere from 50 – 300 rupees ($1-$5).
There are numerous things to see and do around Kathmandu. Among the highlights are the Three Goddesses Temple, Durbar Square, Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple), Mahakala Temple, Pasupatinath and Bodhnath and shopping and bargaining around the touristy Thamel area.