Nearly two months after the earthquake that killed almost 9,000 people and heavily damaged the country's historic sites, Nepal's authorities have reopened all its seven world heritage sites, which had been closed since the April 25 disaster. Following extensive cleanup work the sites are once again open to visitors.
On Monday, an opening ceremony took place in the historic town of Bhaktapur, home to one of three former royal squares in the Kathmandu Valley that date back as far as the 12th century. Traditional dancers and musicians performed at the ceremony. Hundreds of people gathered in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, whose historic Hindu temples, statues and opulent royal palaces drew tourists from around the world before the quake.
All three former royal squares reopened on Monday but the main ceremony was held in Bhaktapur, where Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa declared the Kathmandu Valley "open for tourism".
The head of the Department of Archaeology, Bhesh Narayan Dahal, urged foreign visitors to return to the Himalayan country.
The Nepal Economic Forum, a Kathmandu-based think tank, says 80 percent of hotel reservations have been cancelled since the quake.
The whole of the Kathmandu Valley is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for seven separate groups of monuments -- the three Durbar Squares, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bouddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan.
Swayambhu and Changu Narayan are slated to reopen in coming days, even though UNESCO says there is a risk of landslides in the area.