Itumbaha, one of the five principal monasteries of Kathmandu, is one such worthy site not only for its ritual importance in Newar Buddhism, but also for its wealth of early woodcarvings and architectural configuration, largely intact from the 13th century. Itumbaha preserves its original two story configuration and roof form as well as numerous building components including carved windows, pillars, and roof struts from the 13th century. The courtyard is dotted with additional votive structures, some of great artistic importance such as the 17th century caturmukhi caitya (lit. four faced stupa).
The cluster of early Buddhist architectural monuments in and around this monastic quadrangle represents the last opportunity to save an ensemble of historical structures of this artistic importance and continuity in Kathmandu. Of some 83 Buddhist monasteries in the old city, only three preserve their historical shape without modern encroachments. That the ownership of this monastery is still controlled by the sangha, the monastic community of elders, makes it one of the very few monuments in the city where interventions are even possible. The lack of vehicular access in and around the outer courtyards of Itumbaha guarantees the restored complex an appropriate atmosphere and respite from chaotic modern Kathmandu.