There are 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites(WHS) in Nepal. Of these 4 WHS – two are in cultural category and two WHS falls in the natural category.
In the cultural category the seven monuments of Kathmandu valley (together counted as one WHS) and Lumbini- the birth place of Lord Buddha are included whereas the other two WHS in the natural grouping are designated as Chitwan National Park and Sagarmatha National Park. The Kathmandu valley WHS comprises of three historical palaces known as-Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Darbar Square—two Buddhist stupas- Syambhunath and Boudanath and two Hindu temples Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan. The densest concentration of these heritage sites in can be found here owing to the cultural and political importance of Kathmandu valley in the history of the country. All these monuments were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in October 1979. Most of the places listed in of the WHS were revered as sacred for thousands of years and there has been a series of contributions and renovations in the form of constructions of temples, stupas and palaces over the centuries made by different rulers and kings. The WHS of Nepal are an Nepal and are a legacy of Nepalese people to the history and lifestyle of Nepal and are a legacy of Nepalese people to the delight of the whole human civilization. There are altogether 830 outstanding sites on the World Heritage List in 138 countries.
The Kathmandu valley civilization is around 3000 year old. It has been claimed that the valley was a large pond in the early geological period and it was only when the pond was drained that the valley was ready for human settlement. There is also a legend which reinforces the story that a certain Bodhistav called Manjushree came to the Kathmandu valley and cut the gorge in Chobar with flaming sword and drained the water out of the valley making it ready for human settlement.
The fertile land supported large settlements, and over the centuries different dynasties that ruled the valley patronized an urban civilization with its rich cultural heritage. Politically the present day Nepal was divided into petty principalities and the earliest ruling class of Nepal were the Gopalas, Mahispalas and Kiratas dynasties who were followed by the Lichchhavi(185-750 AD). The Lichchhavi period is known as the classical period of Nepalese history because it was during this period that art and architecture began to take shape. Trade and crafts flourished under them, and they built magnificent temples, palaces and monuments.
But it was only under the later Malla period and the early Shah period from the 14th to the 18th centuries the valley’s fabulous cities with their exquisite pagoda, shikhara and stupa architecture, ornate palaces and artistic temples came to take shape in the form that we see it today.
However the present day neo-classical buildings were built only during the second half of the 19th century(Rana Regime) with the western countries.
Sculptures, wood craft and stone works were built only during the second half of the 19th century (Rana Regime) with Nepal’s first contact with the western countries.
The historical monuments of the world heritages sites of Kathmandu valley are marked by the presence of three prominent architectural style namely the Pagoda, Shikhara and the Stupa style. The pagodas are multi-tiered monuments tapering towards the top with intricate wood carving in the forms of doors, pillars, windows and struts. These ubiquitous wooden historical structures are supplemented by bronze works and stone sculptures together forming the squares and palaces with profuse representation of images of gods, goddesses, demons, beasts, mythical figures, Kings and the ordinary human beings engaged in their day to day activities.