Laura came to Nepal for the mountains but instantly fell in love with Kathmandu. Even amidst the chaos that Kathmandu is in every day, Laura found her little haven in the city – the Basantapur Durbar Square, one of the key heritage sites in Nepal’s capital.
At first, she felt that she needed to pay just once to enter the UNESCO World Heritage site, but when she went to the gate with her ticket the next day, she was asked to buy the other one. “I paid USD 10 just the other day and they asked me to pay again. I know we’re tourists, but you can’t be charging us to enter the main part of the city every day,” says Laura.
For Alice, who came to Nepal from France, things were even more expensive. Alice went to Bhaktapur as she had heard a lot about the city. When she approached the gates of the durbar square, she was asked to pay USD 15 to get in. Her Chinese friend only had to pay Rs 500.
“It makes no sense to do that, either charge everyone the same or don’t charge money at all,” she says.
That is the complaint of almost every tourist that visits many heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley. While fees for areas like Swyambhunath, Bouddhanath, Lumbini and the Changunarayan temple are not much, the cost to enter the durbar squares where the kings once lived has irked a lot of tourists over the course of the past decade. The discontent voices of tourists say that a change is needed. But authorities believe that as these heritage sites offer people a peek at the country’s intangible heritage, the fees are justified.