Bhaktapur lies just 14 km east from the Kathmandu Durbar Square. the historic city of Bhaktapur is spread only 6.88 square kilometers in the area but the culture it holds is amazing to see in the local tongue, Bhaktapur is called khwopa which translates to cities of devotees. It is true because there are more temples in Bhaktapur than any other city of Nepal in comparison to the area. You will be able to see a lot of both Hindu as well as Buddhist temples and stupas in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is also known as Bhadgaun, which means village of rice. Bhaktapur is the near representation of what whole Kathmandu valley would have looked like in medieval times. Bhaktapur is renowned for its local art, unique culture, Newari lifestyle, festivals and foods. Being filled with the Newari population you will be able to see the culture, tradition, and skills of Newari people in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is the least affected city with modernization among the three in Kathmandu valley. When you reach there, you can feel the freshness and the rich culture without trying. More than half of the revenue generated in Bhaktapur is with the tourism. Other mostly depend on agriculture. Bhaktapur is also the most agriculturally flourished still than other two cities inside Kathmandu valley.
Bhaktapur was the capital city of Malla kingdom in Kathmandu valley in the 12th century. It was the center for power in the Kathmandu valley until 1482 when Yakshya Malla decided to divide the kingdom between his three sons. This later caused of conquering of the whole valley by king Prithivi Naryan Shah.When Pritivi Naryan Shaha became the king of united Nepal Bhaktapur was turned in marketplace and power shifted to Basantapur in Kathmandu city.during the Malla reign Bhaktapur became the basis for creating and building art and architecture. A lot of This architecture was built The end of seventeen century during the reign of king BhupatindraMalla. The city had more than 170 temples and monasteries,75 water tanks, hundreds of pilgrim shelters and hundreds of public wells. Later the number decreased due to earthquake most of Bhaktapur is still intact and carries a lot of valuable cultures that you can explore.
As it is tourist hub most population around durbar square and tourist attraction are engaged in tourism and service industry. The places far from durbar square focus on agriculture and trades. As no large vehicles are allowed inside the main square you can walk around the whole area. You will be able to see local wood craftsman carving beautiful patterns and art in the woods. In the pottery square, you can see the potters making beautiful pots and decoration in traditional style. There are some shops that create metal dishes and ornaments from different metals. If you left the main streets of Bhaktapur durbar square you will be able to view into the lifestyle of people of Bhaktapur. Women washing laundry in a beautiful stone carved public taps and wells. You will get to see children playing cricket and football in streets outside their homes. Many females will be busy in their handloom weaving clothes. The old people will meet in rest houses and talk and play checkers like game called Baag-Chal. You will see local shops filled with tea drinkers and customers waiting to eat a local lunch. The shop owners busy making local foods and serving them. Other souvenirs shop owners busy dealing with tourist or waiting for one.
Some attraction you shouldn’t miss while visiting Bhaktapur
This palace was the main residential building to the Malla kings. Bhupatindra mall started building this palace and was only completed until 1754 A.D during the reign of his son. The wooden architecture in beams and windows show the craftsmanship of medieval time. You will see the scriptures and different patterns in the windows. It is said that the palace had 99 courtyards but only nine of them are present today.it was heavily damaged in the 1934 earthquake but now it is the national art museum. Even if you don’t want to enter the museum, you can still walk around looking at the architecture all around it. People say that the king had 55 wives that’s why he built this palace.
The golden gate is the entrance to the main courtyard of 55 window place.it was built by King Ranjit Malla. The shining copper gate is held by red gatehouse surrounded by the white palace walls. The golden gate itself is like a jewel of Nepal’s cultural and traditions. On the top part of the gate, Garuda the god of the sky is depicted fighting with serpents. The two side of gates has the representation of Bhairab and kali.it is said to be the most beautiful specimen of its kind in the whole world.
Nayatapola roughly translates to 5 storeys and roof. Nayatapola is the 5 storeys roofed temple. It only took 7 months to build from 1702 to 1703. King Bhupatindra Malla was helped by the neighboring communities while building this structure. It was built when Taj Mahal in India was in construction.it is one of the tallest pagodas in Nepal.it can be reached climbing the stairs that go up to the entrance of the temple. there are stone statues on either side of the stairs. This is the only temple named after its architecture style rather than the deity residing inside. It is 30m in height and is still intact after two major earthquakes.it is also one of the few building in Nepal which has a detailed record of daily construction report.
Bhairav is the most dangerous and fearsome incarnation of Lord Shiva. Bhairav Nath Temple is the three-storied pagoda style temple. the temple holds the only head of Bhairav inside it. It is said that a tantric expert cut off the head of Bhairav in order to keep him in Bhaktapur.it is located adjacent to Natyapola temple. It was first built by King Jagat Jyoti Malla and later improved by king BhupatindraMalla.
The temple of Dattatreya is believed to be constructed by using a single tree. It was built during the reign of king YakshyaMalla. In respect to its name, it does not hold the idol of Dattatreya. Instead, there are three idols of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The temple is built in pagoda style and has three tiers. It has two huge stone statues of popular wrestlers of that time at the steps guarding the entrance. The entire temple is made from beautifully carved brown wood and different erotic figurines carved all over its beams.
6. Peacock window
The traditional Newari houses have wood carved windows. Most are in a small rectangle and square shape and has beautifully carved patterns with holes in them. In Bhaktapur, the peacock window is really famous. You can see the old house holding a wooden window of a peacock carved in it and small gaps in the middle to see inside out. The outer part has different geometrical and artistic pattern carved into them. The windows are of different size and type according to the different purpose the window serves. along with peacock windows, you will also be able to see other deities and mythical creatures carved in these windows.
Just a little walk south from Bhaktapur durbar through narrow yet artistic alleys with traditional houses. The main attraction of pottery square is the daily life of potters of the Bhaktapur and the process of making the pots. This square is the residential area for the Newari potter who manually makes the clay pots and sells them. You can also buy different types of decorations made from clay from one of the shops selling these clay pots. The different generation and members of the family have their set of tasks they carry around the shop and while making potteries. Just sit and watch how a mud turns into beautiful pots when made by experts using traditional methods.
This rectangular pond is located near the main city gate. There are different types of fishes in the pond.it was built in 15th century during the reign of king YakshyaMalla. It is one of the popular hangouts for meeting friends, family and passing the day in some peace.you can feed the fish by buying fish food in the nearby shop. It is best to visit after you are tired from roaming around Bhaktapur durbar square and nee a breather. You can see mountains even from here in clear days.
Outside the Bhaktapur durbar square are you can visit a different location that has their own unique beauty. You can spend roaming these places and soak all the flourished culture and traditions which are still intact.
Changu Narayan is the ancient temple located on the top of the hill north of Bhaktapur. It is only 6 km away from Bhaktapur durbar square.it is one of the oldest Hindu temples and is believed to have been built first in 4thcentury. The inscription on pillars of Changunaryan has the oldest inscription of Nepal. The temple is surrounded by champak trees and Newari settlements.an ancient tap on the way to Changu Narayan is believed to have existed since Licchavi Era. Being at the top of the hill you will get to see some amazing view from Changu Narayan.
Thimi is the ancient town in Bhaktapur located 6km west from Bhaktapur durbar square. Now the town has started using its historical nameMadhyapurmeaning middle place. Very few tourists visiting Nepal know about this town. This town makes more pottery than its neighboring towns. There are a lot of untouched Newari and tantric temples lines in the side streets and alleys. Its brick-paved streets lined with the Medieval Temple is a great sight to behold. You can spend more than a day looking at the lifestyle and architecture all over the Thimi. It is also famous for its mass production. Both colorful and plain decorative masks are sold in the souvenir shops of Thimi.
This temple is dedicated to Hindu god Ganesh. This temple is also known as the temple of rising sun. the name of the temple represents the sun and Lord Ganesh. This temple was built in such a way so that the first ray of sunlight will fall on the idol of Lord Ganesh. People worship Lord Ganesh as the god of successful completion of work. A lot of devotees walk to the temple built in between the forests. because of its location, it is also one of the popular picnic spots.