Visit the holy Budhanilkantha Temple and offer prayers at one of the most revered Vishnu shrines of the valley. The remarkably intricate artwork that went into sculpting this magnificent 5th century stone image of the sleeping Vishnu is worth a close look. You could combine the trip with a visit to the Shivapuri National Park further up, provided you are up for a hike.
Located at the foot of the Shivapuri hills in the northern-most part of Kathmandu Valley, Budhanilkantha is about 8 km from the city. The largest stone statue of Lord Vishnu in Nepal, it shows him reclining on a bed of Nagas or serpents in the middle of a small pond. A priest is usually in attendance at the foot of the image to receive offerings from devotees. The 5m long granite image carved out of a single rock dates back to the Lichhavi period. The Lichhavis ruled the valley before being ousted by the Malla dynasty, who in turn were conquered by King Prithvi Narayan Shah.
According to folklore, a farmer was working on his field one day when his plough struck a boulder, and to his surprise and alarm, blood started oozing out of the cut in the stone. Upon digging around the huge boulder, he unearthed the magnificent image of the reclining Vishnu that had remained buried in the ground.
There are many buses and vans providing transport from central Kathmandu, but you could also bike all the way to Budhanilkantha, or hire a taxi. Further up from the temple or before you reach the shrine, there are a few restaurants and cafes where you can stop for a coffee or a meal. The air is cleaner up here and a hike in the Shivapuri National Park can be very refreshing.