Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a UNESCO world heritage site and a grand fusion of temples, palaces, statues, and monuments. It is an open museum exhibiting medieval art and architecture with many examples of sculpture, woodcarving, and colossal pagoda temples devoted to different gods and goddesses. Bhaktapur’s culture, temples, and monuments have been kept almost exactly as they were left thousands of years ago. Thus, taking a stroll around the city is like taking a trip back in time. This article covers places to visit and things to do in this medieval piece of art.
Bhaktapur, the city of devotees, is located around 13 km from the capital of Nepal. The city, locally called Khwopa, is enriched with medieval art, architecture, cultures, and cuisines. Despite being the smallest district in Nepal, Bhaktapur far outweighs any other district regarding tourist attractions and activities. At the city’s core, you’ll find Bhaktapur Durbar Square, a former royal complex, and an open museum showcasing the architectural marvels of the Malla dynasty. There are four main squares in Bhaktapur, each one showcasing the city’s own style of art and architecture. This includes Bhaktapur durbar square, Taumadi square, Dattatreya Square, and Pottery square. All of these squares, however, are together known as the Bhaktapur durbar square area and are enlisted in UNESCO world heritage sites. This article covers places to visit and things to do in the Bhaktapur durbar square area.
Places to visit in Bhaktapur Durbar Square
55 Windows Palace
The 55-Windows Palace is among the most renowned architectural marvels within Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It was constructed in the 17th century, during the reign of King Bhupendra Malla, and was the palace where the Kings lived. It is a work of art with finely wooden carved 55 windows. The palace is closed most of the time except for Tuesday when you can observe its
At the heart of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square stands a magnificent golden gate known locally as Lu Dhowka. It is aesthetically pleasing and is decorated with skillfully carved Taleju, garuda, and other Hindu gods and goddesses.
If you pass through the golden gate, you will enter the courtyard, locally called Mul chowk. It is home to Malla’s Patreon goddess, Taleju. The Taleju temple was built in the 14th century and is one of the oldest structures in the city. The temple courtyard is strictly guarded, and non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. Likewise, no leathers, cameras, or shoes are permitted. The temple has beautiful stone figurines and beautifully carved wooden architecture. In the backyard of the temple, there is a small pond where the royals used to take a bath. Don’t worry. Even if you were restricted from entering the temple, there is a beautiful pond outside the temple with carved stone snakes and a golden snake in the middle. The pond has beautifully carved stoned spouts and is aesthetically pleasing.
Vatsala Devi Temple
The Vatsala Devi Temple can be seen in front of the palace, next to the King’s statue and the Taleju Bell. The temple is compared to Patan’s famous Krishna temple as it is built of entire sandstone and rests on a three-tiered pedestal. Vatsala Devi is a manifestation of Goddess Durga, and the temple was built in 1696 AD.
Siddhi Lakshmi Temple
The Siddhi Lakshmi Temple is a beautiful stone-carved temple with several statues along the staircase leading up to it. Dedicated to Siddhi Lakshmi, the tantric goddess, this Sikhara-style temple dates back to the 1700s. The entrance to this temple is guarded by stone statues of numerous animals, including camels, rhinoceroses, horses, and even some mythological
Nyatapola, locally Panch Tale Mandir, is the tallest temple in Nepal. The five-story temple is not only the tallest but its design and construction are unparalleled in their beauty and perfection. It is dedicated to Goddess Shiddhilaxmi, and the temple is closed most of the time. From the bottom of the temple, we can view five tiers of stone carved sculptures lined up on each side of the stairway. The temple is not only a fine work of art but also architecture. The temple has miraculously survived all of Nepal’s major earthquakes, including the deadly 2015 earthquake
Opposite the Nyatapola, there is a temple dedicated to Bhairav, the strong manifestation of Lord Shiva. It is a three-story rectangular temple built with bricks and wood. The temple houses the statue of the Bhairav, which is also closed most of the time. The statue of the Bhairav is charioted around the city once a year for a festival, namely Biska Jatra.
The Dattatreya Temple is a magnificently sculpted temple to the Hindu trinity of Dattatreya, which combines the attributes of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Two stone carved statues of wrestler stand watch outside the temple, while the inside is decorated with exquisite woodwork. There is a common belief that a single tree was used to construct the temple
A minute walk from the Dattatreya temple will lead to the infamous peacock window, locally called, Deshe maru jhya, which translates to an exclusive piece available nowhere in the country. It is Nepal’s most valuable wooden artwork and is often referred to as the “Mona Lisa” of Nepal. It’s made out of a latticework of feathers from the peacock’s tail, and miniature bird
sculptures surround it. The wooden work is top-notch and out of this world.
A minute’s walk from the Taumadhi square lies a beautiful pottery square. It is heaven for pottery enthusiasts as you can stroll around sun-dried clay pots, the old way of making them, and the potter’s wheel. If you want to see how pottery was made before modern techniques, a trip to pottery square is a must.
Siddhapokhari is the most popular and biggest pond in Bhaktapur. Located five minutes from Bhaktapur Durbar Square, it is a quick natural retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city without going much far. You can enjoy feeding the fish and have a good time chitchatting with
your loved ones. You can also boat in the pond, but it is subject to availability.
Things to do in Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Wandering around the ancient sites at Bhaktapur’s durbar square is like stepping back in time. The city has successfully preserved the ancient aura and significance you can feel while visiting. There are countless historical statues, temples, palaces, courtyards, and monuments to explore. On top of that, the houses are also built in ancient style, and you can witness the ancient city preserved like it was left thousands of years ago.
Enjoy the taste of Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is well known for its yogurt, also referred to as King’s yogurt. The yogurt is famous in Nepal for its divine taste, and many people travel just to taste a bit of this specialty of Bhaktapur. Thus, you should definitely give it a try. Also, there are local foods that you can enjoy, including the Newari cuisines, drinks, titauras, and Kulfis. Apart from blessing your eyes, Bhaktapur also blesses your taste buds.
Bhaktapur itself is a live museum, but if you want to dig further into the history of this ancient city. Then, there are several museums where you can explore historical statues, artworks, and preserved sculptures. You can visit National Art Gallery, Wood carving museum, and Brass and bronze museum to learn the glorious history of the city
In addition to its architectural splendor, Bhaktapur is well-known for its exceptional ceramic art. You can witness the potters traditionally make pottery. You can also make pottery, but you will be charged a certain fee. But, it’s worth it for the lifetime experience. Also, you can buy some beautiful ceramic arts, including wind champs, mugs, piggy banks, statues, etc.
Paintings or Sketches
If you are artist or love paintings, then you can do live paintings or sketches of the monuments. Many people visit Bhaktapur durbar square for the art workshop or art fair. The beautiful historical monuments are works of art, and you may want to replicate a version of yours.
Evening walk at Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur durbar square is more beautiful at sunset and night. You can enjoy walking around the square at night as the place is lit with beautiful lights. The lights enhance the beauty of the wooden art, making it a pure blessing to the eyes. Similarly, the beautiful monuments accompanied by the starry night, what can be a better view than that?
Enjoy the Jatras
Bhaktapur has several festivals that you can enjoy. If you are lucky, you can witness the Biska Jatra, which falls on the Nepali new year. Similarly, other celebrations in Bhaktapur include Gai Jatra, Panchadan, Indra Jatra, Krishna Ashtami, Dashain, Tihar, and so on.
There are lots of ponds around Bhaktapur Durbar square. The most famous pond is the Siddhapokhari. Apart from it, there are other ponds including, Napukhu, Bhajya pukhu, Kamalpokhari, Rani pokhari, and so on. You can enjoy the peace and serenity in these ponds
and enjoy the time feeding the fish.
To top it all off, Bhaktapur is a significant shopping center where you can get some of Nepal’s most exciting and unique souvenirs. You should purchase the Bhadgaunle topi, which is the specialty of Bhaktapur. Apart from this, you may find a wide variety of Newari attire, including the red-bordered black saris known as Haku patasi, thangka paintings, Nepali paintings,
pashmina shawls, handmade Nepalese clothing and papers, clay crafts, bronze statues, and
more in these markets.
1. What’s the historical significance of Bhaktapur Durbar Square?
- Could you tell me more about the historical importance of Bhaktapur Durbar Square and its role in Nepal’s heritage?
2. How do I get to Bhaktapur Durbar Square from Kathmandu?
- What’s the best way to reach Bhaktapur Durbar Square from Kathmandu, and how long does it typically take?
3. Are there specific rules or guidelines for visitors regarding clothing?
- Is there a particular dress code or attire etiquette I should be aware of when exploring Bhaktapur Durbar Square?
4. What are the must-visit attractions within Bhaktapur Durbar Square?
- I’d love to know the top attractions within the square. Could you highlight a few must-visit places or landmarks?
5. Is it safe to visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square, and when’s the best time to go?
- I’m curious about the safety and the ideal season to plan a visit. What precautions should I take, and when can I expect the best weather for exploring the square?
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