Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu. Other sites include Patan Durbar Square, the Kathmandu Durbar Square, and the Boudhanath Stupa.
It is also one of my favorite areas because of its towering towers, museums, temple art, many mandala studios, cleanliness and pottery square. The whole area is made up of 4 squares, which each have their own attractions. You can learn about the area, before your visit in this blog post. Kick back, relax and enjoy. If you have a Pinterest, feel free to pin these pics.
Bhaktapur was Nepal’s capital city from the 12th to the 15th century. It was also a sovereign country at the same time! The city is surrounded by tall brick walls with many gates, which gives it a fortress or medieval feeling. Bhaktapur was joined with the rest of Nepal in the 18th century, and though it is no longer considered the cultural capital of Nepal, it still has a rich and beautiful Newari cultural heritage.
The Durbar Square is the first area you come to after walking through the main gate. You are immediately inundated by beautiful temples, shrines, statues, artwork and culture.
You will see a giant lion statue, Lion’s Gate, Golden Gate, and 55 Window Palace on your left. The Bhaktapur museum is in the 55-window palace. You will see the mini Pashupati Temple, Rameshwar and Gopi Nath connected Temples, Vatsala Devi Temple, and the remains of the Vatsala Temple on your right.
The Golden Gate is decorated with gold and has a figure of the goddess Kali and her griffin Garuda at the crown of the door. Click here to learn more about recognizing Buddhist and Hindu gods.
They are served by 2 nymphs (one on each side). Above the door and on the trim are mythical Hindu creatures performing mischievous acts. Golden Gate is the entrance to the Bhaktapur museum and the 55-Window Palace.
The palace is not much to look at from the outside, and since I haven’t been on the inside, I can’t speak for it. The wood trimming surrounding the 55 windows are beautifully decorated with ornate carvings of deities.
Vatsala Temple is directly across the 55- window palace. It is a wooden 2-story temple with a brick foundation. There are 2 lion statues guarding the entrance to the temple. It was moderately damaged in the 2015 earthquake.
Vatsala Devi Temple
This stone temple is directly behind the Vatsala Temple. It was reduced to ruble in the 2015 earthquake. Restoration attempts are being made, but progress is slow.
This temple is tucked behind the Vatsala Devi and Vatsala Temples. It was built to honor Shiva and is a smaller version of the Pashupati Temple in Pashupatinath. This temple as many beautifully carved support structures. Some of the carving are borderline crude to extremely erotic.
Rameshwar and Gopi Nath Temples
These temples are connected to each other. They are located on the right-hand side of the entrance gate. Rameshwar Temple is a 4-pillar temple built to honor Shiva. Most of the time the door to this temple is closed, but it is suspected of housing 3 deities. The Gopi Nath Temple is a 2-roofed pagoda style temple also built to honor Shiva.
The Taumadhi Square is the 2nd most important area in the city. It has one of the most famous temples in Nepal, Nyatapola Temple. It is also the home of Bhairabnath Temple, Tilmadhav Narayan Temple and Stone sculptures. On April 10th, large slides are brought in people can play on them.
Nyatapola Temple is the tallest 5 story temple in Nepal. Its name means 5 stories. It is extremely beautiful, because it’s 5-tiered brick foundation reflects the 5 wooden stories above it. It has many artistic carvings in the doors, window frames, and supports. The temple overlooks Taumadhi Square and is a delight to climb to the top and look out.
Bhairabnath Temple is a much smaller temple in comparison to Nyatapola, but it is still huge. It is a 3 storied temple made of brick and wood. It has a stone and iron fence around it with sculptures. The entrance to the temple is rarely opened.
Dattatreya Square is the oldest part of Bhaktapur; it also serves as an open museum. This square is known for its wood carving craftsman. It has Dattatreya Temple, which is the oldest temple in the Bhaktapur.
Dattatreya Temple is a 3 tiered wooden and brick temple built in 1427. The temple is rumored to be built from the lumber of a single tree. There is a later addition in front of the temple that is sometimes referred to as the porch. It has stone statures guarding the entrance and deities looking over it on pillars.
Pottery Square is one of my favorite areas in Bhaktapur. You can see how pottery is thrown and how they “kiln dry” their creations. The earthen containers are also set in the sun on display. In addition, you can receive a pottery lesson by a master craftsman.
The entrance fee is 15 dollars. The price was increased after the 2015 earthquake. The museum fee is $2 to $5 dollars. There are many entrance points into the Bhaktapur. If you are willing to hustle your way through the side streets and back allies its possible to get in for free.
How to get to Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is about 10 miles south east of Tamel. It takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to drive there. I would not recommend walking or riding a bike, because the route travels along a busy freeway.
For help planning a trip, reach out to us at Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure.
When to go
Any time is a good time to go. If you want to see the Bhaktapur museum, you should be there before 4:00, because it closes at 5:00.
How long to stay
When I come to Bhaktapur, I usually spend 1 to 2 hours walking around and taking pictures. If it is your first time in Bhaktapur, you will probably want at least 3 hours to wonder the area. The length of your visit also depends on what you want to see. If you want to see all 4 squares at one time, you might want to stay for 4 to 5 hours.