Land of towering temples and grand architecture: Bhaktapur

What’s better than exploring someplace new?

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

A drive of around 40 minutes from central Kathmandu takes you to the cultural and one of the older hubs of Kathmandu Valley - Bhaktapur. Tucked in the East corner of Kathmandu valley, it is one of the three royal cities of Kathmandu Valley and is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. also known as Khwopa or Newa city (which comes from the word Newar), ‘Bhaktapur’ means - City of Devotees.

It was a fascinating drive from the capital city to this red and brown coloured architectural delight. We parked in the expansive municipal building and walked through one of the many lanes of the city to enter Bhaktapur durbar square. 

[Did you know: Malla Dynasty thrived in Nepal after fleeing from India. Aridev Malla was the first historical Malla king of Kathmandu Valley. Later, the valley was divided in to 3 cities Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu by three brothers, the sons of the descendant King Yaksha Malla. It is also said that once during the time of drought, these three brothers brought God of rains from Sikkim to Kathmandu Valley and further as decided by the Patan King, the God was placed in Bhaktapur and a temple of Mcachindranath God dedicated rains was constructed].

As soon as I entered the main gate, a magnificent sight welcomed us. Towering temples, charismatic architecture, interesting construction, hip restaurants embraced in old heritage buildings, tall towers, pagodas and enormous statues of many gods and goddesses and animals - I was stoked to see them all and couldn’t help but stand still for some time till I could soak in all the grandeur. 

Bhaktapur is a photographers’ paradise. Though it was badly damaged by 2015’s devastating earthquake, there is still a major part which you can explore while the restoration is still in progress. Even though I was quite shaken by the stories I heard,  it was equally moving to know of how they overcame the disaster and moved on with life. 


Bhaktapur is an ancient city and has a lot to offer but there are certain things which I would say are the landmarks of Bhaktapur Durbar Square and should not be missed.

Layaku (Bhaktapur Durbar Square)

L to R: Golden Gate, 55-windows Palace, Macchindranath Temple, Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a big, clean and touristy space and is a union of pagodas, shikhar-style temples, a statue of the king on monolith tower, 55-windows palace and many sculptures to name a few. In the temples, whichever god is carved on the main door, the statue of the same is in the inner sanctum. The 55-windows palace adjacent to the golden gate is a beautiful home to many doors and exactly fifty-five windows in wood with intricate carvings. 

There also are sculptures of many god and goddesses inside which pick the interest of foreigners the most. There is also a big temple in the courtyard which allows only Hindus inside, the temple also has a place in the backyard dedicated to animal sacrifice.

Naag Pokhari of Bhaktapur Durbar Square

A little ahead in the same compound and there is an area with a mossy green pond in the centre with a Shivalinga and stone-made snakes in pairs circumscribing the pond. The golden statue of King Bhupatindra Malla on the monolith tower is right opposite to the palace as if guarding it.

5 level Nyatapola temple

This is a very interesting five-level structure with stone-made lion guardians, elephants, Jaiput wrestlers, etc. on both sides of the steps to the temple atop. This pagoda-style temple dedicated to Siddha Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity was erected between 1701 and 1702 and is believed to have the foundation wider than the base of the temple itself. 

From this beautiful temple, one can get a mesmerizing view of Taumadhi Square, Bhairavnath temple, shopping lanes and many heritage buildings turned into cafes and restaurants. 

Dattatreya temple

This 15th-century temple is believed to be as old as the 55-windows palace and is dedicated to Hindu god Dattatreya who according to Hinduism is an amalgamation of three Gods; Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva). It is also believed to be made of wood from a single tree which is quite an intriguing fact to know of. At the entrance, there are two large sculptures of Jaiput wrestlers (Jaimala and Pata), Chakra and a metal statue of Garuda. The Dattatreya in the inner sanctum has only one face which is contrary to otherwise believed three faced-god symbolizing each god. The wooden carving is erotic in nature and the temple top is in pagoda style like most of the architecture in Kathmandu.

Pottery Square

Pottery Square of Bhaktapur

Colourful puppets in Bhaktapur

As soon as you reach Pottery square, the smell of clay and the view of splendid creation by the potters start to captivate you.  The fresh colourful pots, puppets, lamps and many other artefacts are on display all around you, making pottery square to appear like a grand showcase. 

Streets of Bhaktapur

They are narrow, winding, colourful, mystical and mostly crowded with tourists and residents of Bhaktapur. Streets of Bhaktapur offer a lot of options for tourists to buy and eat. Many cafes and restaurants in this touristy town offer vivid options from traditional to western delicacies. Two of the must-try are Ju Ju Dhao and Newari Lunch which I would say is something similar to the dessert Mishti Doi of West Bengal (India). Street shops here have a variety of souvenirs & gifting options like brass utensils, masks, wall hangings, rice paper products, fridge magnets, puppets, the list goes on.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

I took more than 5 hours to explore and embrace everything that Bhaktapur had to offer. I am still bummed about a lot of things like indulging in workshops to learn cooking and pottery. (There sure is a next time!)  

It is remarkable to know and see what  Bhaktapur has to offer. Though it may appear a little pricey for foreigners at NPR 1500 (while for SAARC countries it is only NPR 500), it is still, worth the visit, an experience you can never forget!

Takeaway – the key is to walk around and get lost in the unique and musical atmosphere of Bhaktapur.

Happy Travels.

Me and My Suitcase

The complete rights of all the pictures rest with Stuti Shrimali of Me and My Suitcase unless otherwise mentioned.
I was hosted by Nepal Tourism Board but review and views are mine and in no way influenced by any third party.


  1. bhaktapur was one of the best take backs from my Nepal trip .. i really loved exploring the architecture there .

  2. I have heard so much about Bhaktapur and now reading your post makes me want to go visit our closest neighbour soon :D

    1. You should. There is an old charm about this place.

  3. Beautifully crafted post and I really liked your pictures . Nepal is in my list from long, hopefully will visit this place in coming months.

  4. I have been to Bhaktapur twice and can go again. The architecture is unusual and stunning. The potters colony nearby is also interesting. I love the place for the Juju Dhau which is like our Mishti Doi.

  5. I love reading your posts. They are clear, concise, and beautiful. I loved the colorful streets of Bhaktapur :)


Post a Comment