Kamar-Taj is the central location of the Marvel universe’s Doctor Strange. The scenic land, said to be in the Himalayas in Nepal, is the homeland of Doctor Strange’s mentor, The Ancient One.
Benedict Cumberbatch is the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe’s superhero, Doctor Strange. With his awesome time and space bending powers, he has transported us to some of the most scenic locations in the world. But nothing could beat the picturesque Kamar-Taj (situated in the Himalayas), where Doctor Strange learned magic under his mentor, The Ancient One. The natural setting of the filming locations in Nepal, along with the spectacular visual effects, has captivated audiences. Many are wondering where in Nepal Kamar-Taj is, if it is real, and if they can go there. Here’s everything you need to know about Kamar-Taj and the filming locations for Doctor Strange.
Is Kamar-Taj a Real Place?
Kamar-Taj is a fictional place in the Marvel universe. Apologies to Doctor Strange fans who wanted to pay a visit to The Ancient One! Kamar-Taj first appeared in Strange Tales #110 of the Doctor Strange comic book series. It’s depicted as a small, hidden land in the Himalayan Mountains, near what is now Tibet. It’s the homeland of Doctor Strange’s mentor, The Ancient One, and also of the evil sorcerer, Kaluu.
Over 500 years ago, Kaluu and Yao (who would become The Ancient One), learned the mystic arts in the village of Kamar-Taj. However, the two disagreed on the use of the magic for the sake of their village. Both cast a spell eliminating sickness and poverty in Kamar-Taj, making the people there immortal. But Kaluu also used his powers to influence the minds of the people so that he could rule Kamar-Taj.
Kaluu and The Ancient One battle against each other, consequently wiping out the village of Kamar-Taj. After Kaluu was banished to an alternate dimension and The Ancient One went on a journey around the Earth (lasting centuries), The Ancient One came back to the place where his village once was.
He settled down in the place near Kamar-Taj in the Himalayas and built a palace for himself with an order of monks to protect and assist him. This palace becomes the modern-day Kamar-Taj depicted in Doctor Strange, where Dr. Stephen Strange arrives to learn the mystic arts from The Ancient One.
Kamar-Taj in the Doctor Strange Movie
In the movie, Doctor Strange, Kaecilius enters the secret community of Kamar-Taj to steal a book forbidden by The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton. Meanwhile, acclaimed neurosurgeon, Stephen Strange suffers injuries to his hands after an accident rendering him unable to perform surgical procedures.
The doctor exhausts all his resources trying to fix his hands, to no avail. When he hears about Kamar-Taj, he uses the last of his money to travel to Nepal. When he arrives at Kamar-Taj, he’s taken in by The Ancient One’s student, Mordo. Strange then learns how to bend time and space from The Ancient One at Kamar-Taj.
When Kaecilius performs a ritual from the forbidden book, he causes the London Sanctum (a spell protecting Earth from other dimensions) to collapse, sending Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum.
Doctor Strange Filming Locations
Doctor Strange was filmed in multiple locations to create the visual masterpiece that is Kamar-Taj. Filming was primarily done in Nepal before being moved to the United Kingdom, and was completed with parts from New York and Hong Kong.
Various locations in Nepal made up the Kamar-Taj shown in the movie. Some of the locations included the Pashupatinath Temple at the banks of the river Bagmati in Kathmandu, a sacred place where non-Hindus aren’t allowed. Acquiring permission to film inside the temple was a big honor for the cast and crew of Doctor Strange.
Patan Durbar Square which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lalitpur, is famous for the red-brick Newa architecture. The city was badly damaged after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. The scenes at Patan Durbar Square had been completed before the calamity struck.
The Buddhist pilgrimage site of Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu Valley is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal, and scenes from the film were also shot there. The sets of Kathmandu street and Kamar-Taj’s courtyard were recreated in London.
It may not be the real deal, but these charming locations in Nepal are definitely worth visiting.