Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is in the north of the Kathmandu Valley, a chance to enjoy nature close to the city. There are many hiking and mountain biking trails through the park, and on a clear day visitors can see snow-capped mountains to the north. It’s a great place to come for a quick escape from Kathmandu, or to embark on a longer trek.
The park is named after Mt. Shivapuri, which at 8,963 feet (2,732 meters) is one of the tallest of the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. Anywhere else in the world, climbing a mountain of that height would be a serious undertaking, but in Nepal it’s a fairly easy day hike! The park is also home to birds and wildlife (including leopards), monasteries, and the source of the Bagmati River that runs through Kathmandu, at Baghdwar.
Travelers usually visit the park on day hikes or bike rides from Kathmandu, either with a guide or independently. Some longer treks around the valley can include the park, as it is connected to longer-distance trails.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The park is technically called the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, but the smaller Nagarjun section to the west is not connected to the Shivapuri section, and it is less frequently visited.
- There is an entrance fee (cheaper for Nepalis), and visitors must register in a log book at the gates.
- Many of the paths throughout the park are well-maintained and easy to find.
- Topographical maps that include the park are available in Kathmandu. Alternatively, take a photo of the map sign boards at the entrance of the park.
- They’re unlikely to pose much of a threat to visitors, but leopards do live in the park and residents of villages surrounding the park frequently encounter them at night.
How to Get There
Shivapuri National Park is easily accessible from Kathmandu. The main gate is just north of Budhanilkantha, 7 miles (11 kilometers) north of central Kathmandu. Reach Budhanilkantha on the large green Sajha Yatayat buses that stop at Kantipath in central Kathmandu and travel on to Budhanilkantha. To save time, take a taxi there from anywhere in Kathmandu. From Thamel it will take 20–40 minutes, depending on traffic.
When to Get There
The park is open roughly from dawn until dusk. For the best views of Kathmandu and Mt. Shivapuri, visit between October and February, as the skies are clearest during fall and winter.
Visit the Budhanilkantha Temple
Budhanilkantha is just to the south of the main entrance to the Shivapuri National Park. It’s famous for its large reclining Shiva statue at the Budhanilkantha Temple. The 16-foot (5-meter) reclining stone Vishnu statue is believed to have been made in the fifth century. It’s the largest stone statue in Nepal, and it’s unusual because the god is lying down. It’s definitely worth a visit, whether you’re continuing on to the park or not.