Bhaktapur Travel Guide
Exercise patience and understanding, and you’ll enjoy these attractions for what they are during your visit.
Come check out our Bhaktapur travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
You cannot visit Bhaktapur without seeing Durbar Square. It is here where the royal palace of the Bhaktapur Kingdom is situated. From the mid-18th century onward, its nobles ruled the area from this domain.
Called Nge Nyapa Jhya Laaykoo, or the 55-window palace, its period as a seat of royal power was brief. In 1769, they ceded control, ending Bhaktapur’s reign as a political capital. As impressive as its wooden windows are, the square is home to numerous temples of great importance to Hinduism. As a result, the UN recognizes this place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nyatapola Temple is one of these halls of worship you’ll find as you wander around Durbar Square. Its name describes its physical appearance – translating to the five-roofed temple, it is famous for its five-tiered tower.
King Bhupatindra Malla built it at the start of the 18th century to honour Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Despite its age and considerable height, it survived the quake of 2015 with no significant damage. This structure has stood the test of time, riding out the violent 1934 tremor as well.
After you’ve seen everything of interest in Durbar Square, make your way over to Changu Narayan. Its eldest artifact dating back to the 4th century, making this temple the oldest in Nepal. That piece would be a historical pillar, erected by Mandeva.
Throughout the rest of the complex, you’ll find a variety of interesting sculptures. Start with Garuda, King of Birds and the flying vehicle for Lord Vishnu. From there, you’ll find pieces dating between the 7th and 16th centuries.
Finally, be patient with any reconstruction work you encounter. Changu Narayan suffered massive damage during the 2015 earthquake. Fortunately, it wasn’t beyond repair, allowing artisans to restore it.
Dattatreya Temple is another site you shouldn’t miss on a visit to Bhaktapur. Constructed in the 15th century, workers built virtually all of this temple using the wood from a single tree. Its front porch is the exception to this rule, as it stands out like a sore thumb.
As its name suggests, the creators of Dattatreya Temple dedicated it to Dattatreya, an avatar of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Within its walls, you’ll find some intriguing statues. These include various depictions of erotic scenes. One of a woman styling her hair while her husband ‘pleases’ her, is bound to elicit a few laughs.
Have you still not gotten your fill of temples during your visit to Bhaktapur? Start by adding Bhairabnath Temple to your itinerary. Located in Durbar Square, its constructors built this place in honour of Bhairab, a ferocious form of Shiva.
This three-storey complex traces its origins to the 17th century. During festivals, temple runners cart the head of Bhairab around Bhaktapur on a chariot. If workers restrict temple access due to earthquake reconstruction work, you may be able to catch this spectacle.
Taleju Temple is another great attraction that temple fanatics won’t want to miss. This place lucked out during the 2015 earthquake, as it managed to escape severe damage. However, this attraction comes with a big proviso – temple authorities only allow Hindus to enter.
Even if you don’t believe in this religion, it’s still worth a visit for its magnificent exterior. You can also sneak a peek through its guarded entryway, but leave the camera holstered. If you try, you’ll be shut down by the guards immediately. Even if you are Hindu, the rules forbid cameras. Be present so that this attraction can live on in your memories.
Despite what you might think, Bhaktapur does have attractions that aren’t temples. Check out what the best artisans in the city are creating by dropping by Pottery Square. Here, you can watch potters create their goods from start to finish.
You’ll find spinning wheels that give rise to these products from clay. You’ll also get to watch as workers bake them in a kiln. Finally, you can buy finished ceramics from the shops that line the square. Walk carefully through this tight work area/marketplace, and respect the privacy of potters.
After a long day of sightseeing, relax and unwind by the shores of Siddha Pokhari. Commissioned by royalty in the 15th century, it created a gathering place that residents of Bhaktapur still enjoy today. Some view it as a sacred place. In times of drought, some use it as a place to pray to Basuki Nag (a serpent god) for rain.
Others content themselves to feed the fish. Around the lake, you can find vendors that sell food for this very purpose.