Bungamati is a traditional and tiny Newari village from the 16th century and is located at eight kilometers south of Kathmandu (on the outskirts of Patan). The village has its own history and has retained its tradition and culture. It is a living museum and recalls medieval times.
The farming community of Newars who live here are mostly dependent on agriculture and much of their daily activities take place outside of their dwellings. It is perched on a spur of land overlooking the Bungamati River and is shaded by large trees and stands of bamboo. Fortunately, the village streets are too small and hazardous for cars. Visitors are rare, so tread gently.
Bungamati is the birthplace of Rato Machhendranath, regarded as the patron of the valley, and the large shikhara – style temple in the centre of the village square is his home for six months of the year. He spends the rest of his time in Patan. The process of moving him around Patan and backwards and forwards to Bungamati is central to one of the most important annual festivals in the valley. The chowk around the temple is one of the most beautiful in the valley – here one can see the heart of a functioning Newari town.
There are many chortens and a huge prayer wheel, clearly pointing to the syncretic nature of the Newari religion. There are women sitting outside spinning, men crushing seeds, and other daily activities. Between Bungamati and Khokana the Karya Binayak Temple is dedicated to Ganesh. The temple is not particularly interesting and Ganesh is simply represented by a natural stone but the view is spectacular. From this point, surrounded by trees, you can look over the Bungamati valley to the foothills, or back to Bungamati, tumbling down the opposite hill.