Bhaktapur, which is the third major city in the Kathmandu Valley, is often known as the cultural city due to the traditional Newari culture and many cultural heritage sites. Once the capital of the whole Valley, Bhaktapur now has become the cleanest city in the Valley.
Situated at an elevation of 1,400 metres above sea level, the cultural city a home to traditional arts and architectures, pottery and weaving industries, rich local customs and cultures of the local people.
Bhaktapur is also famous for its woodcarving artists as well as typical cap and curd. With its architectural and cultural values, the city has become one of the major tourist attractions in the Kathmandu Valley. The colourful fetivals, ancient temples and culturally, historically and archaeologically important monuments have enhanced its touristic importance. The city is lies about 14 kilometres east of the capital city of Kathmandu.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
This is one of the seven UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley. This depicts the rich culture, art and architectural of the city. The golden gate is the gateway to the main courtyard of the 55-window Palace, which is the most fascinating in the city. The gate is considered as one of the world's most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind. This is often known as not only the treasure of Bhaktapur, but of the entire country as well.. The richly carved windows and doors really attract visitors. Being the seat of royalty before 1769 AD, the building now houses the National Art Gallery.
The Big Bell is another amazing artwork that bewitches every visitor in the Durbar Square. The bell is said to have been erected by Ranajit Malla (1722-1769), who was the last Malla King of Bhaktapur. The bell would be used at that time for paying homage to Goddess Taleju, the lineage deity of the Malla rulers. Even today, the bell is rung twice a day as a mark of tribute to the goddess. There is another small Barking Bell next to it. To one’s great surprise, all dogs around it start whining the moment it is rung by its caretaker.
There are many other religious sites in the area; some of them include: Chyasin Mandap, Siddhi Laxmi Temple, Shiva Temple, Vatsala Temple, Bhandarkhal Complex, Chatu Brahma Mahavihar, Indrayani Temple, Balakhu Ganesh Temple, Tripura-Sundari Temple and the Char Dham.The Yaksheswor Mahadev Temple equally adds to the Square’s unparalleled beauty. Named after its builder king, Yaksha Malla (1428-82), the two-storied pagoda temple was built after Kathmandu’s world-famous Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. The temple is famous for its wooden struts with erotic carvings.
Bhaktapur Nyatapol Temple
The 30metre high temple is considered the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. The temple is believed to have been built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1708 AD. Each of its five terraces holds a pair of figures, starting from bottom wrestlers, elephant, lion, griffins and goddesses.
Bhaktapur National Art Gallery
The art gallery is situated at the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The gallery is home to many rare paintings, and manuscripts with painted covers and illustrations. As the museum has brass, bronze, stone and wooden images, it is often explored by tourists for medieval art tradition of Nepal. The gallery remains closed on Thursdays and public holidays.
The one-storey pagoda-style temple was constructed during the reign of King Jagat Jyoti Malla. With the page of time, the temple was converted into a three-storey temple in 1718 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. With its artistic beauty and architectural values, the temple is an outstanding artistic grandeur. The temple is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the god of terror.
The Dattatraya Square area is the oldest part of the city. Most of Bhaktapur’s architectures date back to the end of the 17th century, when the city was ruled by the then King Bhupatindra Malla.
The temple was built in 1427 A. The unique part of the temple is that it was built using the materials of a single tree. There is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows near the temple.
The Nyatapola Temple is in the Taumadhi Square. Dating back to 1702 AD, the magnificent five-storied structure is Nepal’s tallest pagoda temple. The struts, doors, windows and tympanums, which are embellished with attractively carved divine figures, perfectly depict the creative tradition of Newar craftsmen. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi, the manifestation of female force and creativity.
Both Hindus and Buddhists visit this pilgrimage site. River banks are often used by the local people to burn dead bodies. Such areas are called Ghat in Nepali. People visit such areas in the early morning to wash themselves purifying their body and then to go about visiting temples and images of gods and goddesses. Ghats usually have one or more crematories where the dead bodies are burned to ashes and the ashes in turn are thrown into the river as a part of Hindu/Buddhist culture.
There are several such Ghats in around Bhaktapur. Hunuman Ghat is very popular Ghat in Bhaktapur, it spreads to a larger area with many religious images, objects and structures scattered around in such array that even a non religious person would start feeling differently once visiting there. Tourists may find it as an alien land. The largest Shiva Lingam in Nepal, temple of Ram, numerous store sculptures, small stupas, and Shiva lingams, more can be observed in this Ghat area. Visiting this place in the early morning is recommended. One can observe how a day begins for a religious traditional Newar in Bhaktapur.
Nava Durga Temple
From a religious point of view, the temple of Nava Durga, the nine manifestations for Goddess Durga, holds a high place in Bhaktapur. Nava Durga is also the combination of nine protective mother Goddesses of the city. The three-storied shrine is also famous for its elaborately carved windows and doors.
Kanchu-Pukha is located to the south of the Dattatraya Square. This is one of the most fascinating architectural ponds. The unique importance of the pond lies in the fact that it perfectly displays the image of the Nayatapola Temple. Although it is situated at the distance of over 500 metres from the temple, one can have its beautiful view.
Wakupati Narayan Temple
At a little distance on the eastern side of the Dattatraya Square, there is an exquisite specimen in the metalwork. The Wokupati Narayan Temple is enclosed within a stone paved courtyard. The two-storey pagoda temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple dates back to 1667 AD. This is the only place from where one would one see four Garudas, the bird vehicles of Lord Vishnu.
This is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. The World Heritage Site is a scenic spot situated at the altitude of about 1700 metres above sea level and 4 kilometres to the north of Bhaktapur. The most authentic inscription in Changu Narayan dates back to 464 AD and is accredited to the Lichhavi King Mandeva. Changu Narayan Temple. The temple was dedicated to lord Vishnu by the Lichhavi King in the Fifth Century.
Situated at a walking distance of about 2 kilometres to the south of the city is the holy shrine of god Ganesh (God of well beginning and successful completion of work). The temple of Ganesh is placed in a sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. This place has become a good picnic spot, as it is surrounded by many attractive landscapes.
Thimi: The town of Thimi is also famous for its pottery work. In addition to pottery, Thimi has made a name for itself in the age-old art of making colorful masks of various deities, demons and animals. Thimi also produces much of the fresh vegetables for the Kathmandu valley.
How to reach Bhaktapur
Since Bhaktapur is a neighbouring city of the capital city of Kathmandu, and Lalitpur, taxis and buses are available. If there is no traffic jam on the roads, one reaches Bhaktapur from Kathmandu within 30 minutes by taxi.
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