Prepare to be enchanted as we embark on a mesmerizing journey to Bhaktapur, an extraordinary city that transcends time and space. Step into a realm where ancient history collides with vibrant culture, where majestic temples whisper tales of devotion, and where every corner holds secrets waiting to be discovered.
Known as the “City of Devotees,” Bhaktapur captivates visitors with its ancient temples, intricately carved woodwork, and well-preserved traditional architecture. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or a cultural explorer, Bhaktapur offers a plethora of fascinating experiences.
Get ready to unleash your sense of wonder as we explore the extraordinary wonders of Bhaktapur, Nepal’s crown jewel.
Location and Altitude of Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is a major city located in the Bagmati Province of Nepal. The Bagmati Province is situated in the central part of the country that sits at an average altitude of approximately 1,401 meters (4,596 feet) above sea level.
This moderate altitude contributes to Bhaktapur’s pleasant climate, making it a favorable destination throughout the year. The city’s elevation allows for cooler temperatures compared to the lower-lying regions, creating a comfortable environment for exploration and adventure.
Things to do in Bhaktapur
Let’s discover the top things to do in Bhaktapur.
Wander Through Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the heart and soul of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site that transports you back in time. This open-air museum boasts an impressive collection of temples, palaces, courtyards, and statues.
Marvel at the 55–window palace, admire the golden gate of the Taleju Temple and discover the intricacies of the Nyatapola Temple, one of the tallest pagodas in Nepal. Allow yourself to get lost in the labyrinthine alleys and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this historic square.
Experience the Pottery Square
Bhaktapur is renowned for its pottery craftsmanship, and Pottery Square is the perfect place to witness this ancient art form in action. Observe skilled potters shaping clay with their hands and traditional wheels, creating stunning pots, vases, and decorative items.
You can even try your hand at pottery-making under the guidance of a master potter. It’s a unique opportunity to connect with the local artisans and bring home a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Indulge in Newari Cuisine
Food lovers are in for a treat in Bhaktapur, as the city is a hub of Newari cuisine, famous for its rich flavors and unique delicacies. Dive into a culinary adventure by sampling local favorites like Juju Dhau (sweet yogurt), Bara (lentil pancake), and Chatamari (Newari pizza).
Don’t miss out on a traditional Newari feast at one of the many heritage restaurants, where you can relish a variety of dishes served on a large metal platter.
Discover Hidden Temples and Courtyards
Beyond the main tourist attractions, Bhaktapur is filled with hidden gems waiting to be explored. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow lanes and stumble upon hidden temples and beautifully preserved courtyards.
The serene atmosphere and intricate architectural details will leave you awe-inspired. Make sure to visit the Dattatreya Square, which houses the famous Dattatreya Temple, and explore the less-crowded Taumadhi Square, home to the towering Nyatapola Temple.
Sunrise from Nagarkot
For breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayas, head to Nagarkot, a scenic hilltop located just outside Bhaktapur. Wake up early and hike to the viewpoint to witness the magical sunrise, painting the snow-capped peaks in hues of gold and pink.
On a clear day, you can spot some of the world’s highest mountains, including Mount Everest. After sunrise, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at one of the cozy hillside cafes and savor the serenity of nature.
Visit the Peacock Window
The Peacock Window also known as the “Monalisa of Nepal,” is a masterpiece of wood carving located in Bhaktapur. This intricately crafted window, adorned with mythical creatures, peacocks, and delicate patterns, is a true marvel of craftsmanship. Take a walk along the narrow lanes and discover this hidden gem, appreciating the fine details and artistic beauty of the Peacock Window.
Explore the Siddha Pokhari
Escape the bustling streets and find tranquility at the Siddha Pokhari, a serene and ancient pond situated in Bhaktapur. Surrounded by lush greenery and adorned with stunning sculptures and pavilions, this water reservoir offers a peaceful atmosphere for relaxation and reflection. Take a leisurely stroll around the pond, feed the fish, and enjoy the harmonious ambiance.
Attend a Traditional Festival
Bhaktapur is renowned for its vibrant festivals that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage. If you’re lucky to visit during one of the major festivals such as Bisket Jatra or the Bhaktapur Music Festival, you’ll witness lively processions, traditional music, dance performances, and religious rituals.
It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local traditions, interact with friendly locals, and celebrate the vibrant spirit of Bhaktapur.
Major Attractions of Bhaktapur
Let’s take a look at some of the major attractions that make Bhaktapur a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a truly immersive and enchanting experience.
Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the heart of the city. This magnificent square is adorned with numerous temples, palaces, and courtyards that showcase the artistic prowess of the Newar community.
The 55–window Palace, the Golden Gate, and the Nyatapola Temple, Nepal’s tallest temple, are some of the notable architectural marvels that will leave you in awe.
Standing at an impressive height of 30 meters, the Nyatapola Temple is a masterpiece of Nepali architecture. Dedicated to the goddess Siddhi Lakshmi, this five-story pagoda-style temple is adorned with intricate woodcarvings, stone sculptures, and divine imagery.
Each tier of the temple represents a different deity, symbolizing the gradual ascent from the mundane to the divine.
Bhaktapur’s Pottery Square offers a unique glimpse into the city’s age-old pottery tradition. Here, you can witness artisans skillfully shaping clay into various pottery items using traditional methods.
From decorative vases to traditional cooking utensils, the pottery square is a fascinating place to observe craftsmanship and even try your hand at pottery-making.
Dattatreya Square is another architectural gem that showcases the finest examples of Newari craftsmanship. The square is dominated by the Dattatreya Temple, dedicated to Lord Dattatreya, a combination of the Hindu trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The intricately carved wooden peacock windows, the impressive stone sculptures, and the open-air museum all contribute to the cultural richness of this square.
Taumadhi Square is famous for its centerpiece, the Nyatapola Temple. However, this square also offers a vibrant atmosphere with its local markets, eateries, and traditional Newari houses. Take a leisurely stroll through the square, savor local delicacies, and interact with the friendly locals to experience the true essence of Bhaktapur’s cultural heritage.
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Changu Narayan Temple
While technically located a few kilometers outside Bhaktapur, a visit to the ancient Changu Narayan Temple is highly recommended. This temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is considered one of the oldest temples in Nepal and showcases exquisite stone, metal, and wood carvings.
The temple’s serene surroundings and panoramic views of the Himalayan ranges make it a peaceful and spiritual retreat.
Bhadgaule Topi (Kalo Topi)
No visit to Bhaktapur would be complete without experiencing the iconic Bhadgaule Topi, also known as Kalo Topi. This traditional Nepali cap holds immense cultural significance and is a symbol of national pride.
The Bhadgaule Topi has become a cherished cultural icon, representing Nepali tradition and identity. It is commonly worn during festivals, weddings, cultural events, and even as part of everyday attire by people across Nepal.
Entry Fee of Durbar Square
The entry fee for Bhaktapur Durbar Square has specific rates depending on the category of visitors.
SAARC nationals, including citizens of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Maldives, are required to pay NPR 150 for entry into Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Visitors from countries other than Nepal and SAARC nations were charged NPR 1,000 as the entry fee to Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Entry to Bhaktapur Durbar Square is free for Nepalese citizens. They could explore the square without paying any entry fee.
Children below 10 Years
Children below the age of 10 are granted free entry to Bhaktapur Durbar Square, regardless of their nationality.
It’s advisable to verify the current entry fee rates from official sources, local authorities, or reliable travel agencies as the fee structure may change.
GoldenGate of Bhaktapur
The Golden Gate of Bhaktapur, Nepal, is a captivating entrance to the 55–Window Palace, showcasing the city’s rich cultural heritage and artistic brilliance. The construction of the Golden Gate in Bhaktapur, Nepal, was initiated by Bhupatindra Malla, a notable ruler of the Malla dynasty.
However, it was his successor, Jaya Ranjit Malla, who oversaw the completion of this remarkable architectural marvel. Crafted in the traditional pagoda style, the gate’s ornate woodcarvings, metalwork, and artistry depict the goddess Kali and various mythical creatures.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the gate holds deep symbolism and spiritual significance, symbolizing protection and prosperity for the city. Skilled artisans have preserved and restored this architectural masterpiece, ensuring its magnificence endures.
The Golden Gate serves as a portal to explore Bhaktapur’s ancient temples, alleyways, and vibrant local culture, immersing visitors in a bygone era of grandeur and creativity. It invites all to embark on a captivating journey through time and culture.
Bhaktapur’s Famous Juju Dhau
Within the ancient city of Bhaktapur, Nepal, lies a dairy treasure that has captured the hearts and taste buds of locals and travelers alike the renowned Juju Dhau. This delectable creamy delight, often referred to as the “king of yogurts,” is no ordinary yogurt. Prepared with utmost care and an age-old recipe passed down through generations, Juju Dhau boasts a velvety texture and a mildly sweet, subtly tangy flavor that dances on the palate.
As you savor each spoonful, you can’t help but be transported back in time, imagining the skilled artisans meticulously churning the yogurt in clay pots, imparting it with a unique earthy essence. Whether enjoyed plain or adorned with a sprinkle of aromatic spices or honey, this heavenly treat is a true testament to the culinary traditions and cultural heritage of Bhaktapur, leaving an indelible impression on all who have the pleasure of tasting it.
Other Famous Foods you should try
Bara and Wo
Bara and Wo are a match made in culinary heaven and are a must-try duo in Bhaktapur. It (Bara) is a savory lentil pancake made from black lentils, mixed with spices, and fried until golden brown.
It is often served with Wo, a flavorful lentil soup that complements the Bara perfectly. These satisfying treats are commonly enjoyed as a snack or as a main course, offering a hearty and flavorsome experience.
A trip to Bhaktapur would be incomplete without savoring the famous Chatamari, often referred to as the Nepali pizza.
This Newari street food delight features a rice flour crepe topped with an assortment of ingredients such as minced meat, eggs, vegetables, and spices. The thin, crispy base combined with the savory toppings creates a burst of flavors that will leave you craving for more.
Prepare your sweet tooth for a delightful encounter with Yomari, a traditional Newari dessert that is both visually appealing and incredibly delicious.
Yomari consists of rice flour dough filled with sweet fillings like molasses, sesame, or coconut. These dumplings are shaped into various intricate designs and steamed to perfection. With each bite, you’ll experience a burst of sweetness that will transport you to dessert paradise.
Discover the enchanting city of Bhaktapur in Nepal, renowned for its mesmerizing architecture. This living museum takes visitors on a journey through time, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the region. The Durbar Square stands at its heart, adorned with majestic palaces, courtyards, and temples that exemplify Newari craftsmanship.
Traditional Newari architecture, characterized by intricately carved wooden elements, pagoda–style temples, and delicate craftsmanship, is a hallmark of Bhaktapur. The city’s temples and shrines, such as the Nyatapola Temple and Pashupatinath Temple, leave visitors in awe with their impressive structures and intricate details.
Bhaktapur’s pottery square in Thimi showcases the city’s mastery of pottery, while the city itself remains a vibrant living museum where ancient traditions are still practiced. Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Bhaktapur’s architecture, a testament to Nepal’s rich past and cultural heritage.
Let’s take a look into the enchanting world of Bhaktapur’s accommodations, where tradition seamlessly blends with modern comfort.
Traditional Newari Guesthouses
Immerse yourself in the essence of Bhaktapur’s cultural heritage by staying in a traditional Newari guesthouse. Newars are the indigenous people of the Kathmandu Valley, and their architectural style is beautifully reflected in the guesthouses of Bhaktapur.
These accommodations feature intricate wood carvings, red brickwork, and spacious courtyards that evoke a sense of old-world charm. Experience warm hospitality, indulge in authentic Newari cuisine, and get a glimpse into the daily life of locals.
For those seeking a touch of luxury while still preserving the city’s heritage, Bhaktapur boasts several exquisite heritage hotels. These properties are often converted from old palaces, mansions, or noble houses, showcasing the grandeur of Newari architecture.
Restored to their former glory, these hotels offer opulent rooms, fine dining options, and stunning views of Bhaktapur’s ancient temples and squares. Immerse yourself in regal splendor while enjoying modern amenities.
Bhaktapur’s commitment to sustainability and eco-tourism is evident in its range of eco-friendly retreats. These accommodations blend seamlessly with nature, offering a serene and peaceful environment for guests.
Enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush gardens, and organic farms. Indulge in yoga and meditation sessions, or simply unwind in eco-friendly cottages constructed with natural materials, designed to minimize environmental impact.
Museum in Bhaktapur
Let’s take a look at some of the most captivating museums in Bhaktapur, where history comes alive and traditions are celebrated.
The National Art Gallery
Our journey begins with the National Art Gallery, a cultural gem nestled within the splendid Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Housed in a restored palace building, this museum showcases a vast assortment of traditional paintings, sculptures, woodcarvings, and metalwork.
From ancient religious art to contemporary masterpieces, the National Art Gallery presents a vivid narrative of Nepal’s artistic evolution, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty and intricacy of local craftsmanship.
The Brass and Bronze Museum
Moving forward, we arrive at the Brass and Bronze Museum, situated near the famous Nyatapola Temple. Here, visitors can explore the ancient techniques of metal casting and appreciate the magnificence of intricate brass and bronze artifacts.
From statues of gods and goddesses to ornate household utensils, the museum’s collection highlights the historical significance of metalwork in Bhaktapur and its contribution to the local economy and cultural heritage.
The Woodcarving Museum
Our journey through Bhaktapur’s museums continues with a visit to the Woodcarving Museum, located near the famous 55 Window Palace. Stepping into this museum feels like entering a meticulously crafted wooden wonderland.
Intricately carved windows, doors, and pillars adorned with mythical creatures and divine figures narrate stories of the city’s architectural excellence. The Woodcarving Museum is a testament to Bhaktapur’s rich tradition of woodwork and the skilled craftsmanship that has adorned its buildings for centuries.
Famous Jatras of Bhaktapur
Among the various celebrations that take place throughout the year, the Jatras of Bhaktapur hold a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike.
These sacred festivals are steeped in tradition offering a captivating glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage. Let’s explore the fascinating Jatras celebrated in Bhaktapur.
Bisket Jatra: Welcoming the Nepali New Year
One of the most prominent Jatras in Bhaktapur is the Bisket Jatra, celebrated during the Nepali New Year, Baisakh (April). The festival kicks off with the erection of a towering wooden chariot in the heart of the city. This elaborate structure is dedicated to the deity Bhairava, who is believed to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits.
The highlight of the Bisket Jatra is the exhilarating tug-of-war between rival communities, each vying to pull the chariot to their respective neighborhoods. This fierce competition symbolizes the cosmic battle between gods and demons, with the victors considered blessed for the year ahead.
Gai Jatra takes place during the month of Bhadra (August/September) and holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Bhaktapur. During this festival families who have lost loved ones in the past year lead a procession through the city, often accompanied by a young boy or girl dressed as a cow.
This jovial event, filled with music, dance, and laughter, is believed to help the deceased find their way to heaven. Gai Jatra is a beautiful blend of tradition, satire, and emotional release, as families find solace in celebrating the lives of their departed loved ones.
Sindur Jatra: A Fiery Celebration of Vermilion Powder
Sindur Jatra is a vibrant and mesmerizing celebration that takes place in Bhaktapur during the Nepali month of Chaitra (March/April). This unique festival is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhadrakali, who is considered the protector of the city. The festival begins with a sacred ceremony at the ancient Taumadhi Square, where a large wooden pole called “Lingo” is erected and adorned with colorful prayer flags.
As dusk falls, the revelry intensifies with the lighting of torches and the enthusiastic throwing of vermillion powder (sindur) at the crowd. This lively event brings the streets alive with a kaleidoscope of colors, music, and dance.
The joyful chaos and spirited atmosphere of Sindur Jatra create an unforgettable experience for participants and spectators alike.
Bhaktapur to Kathmandu
The distance from Bhaktapur to Kathmandu is approximately 16.1 kilometers. The journey takes around 30 minutes to 1 hour by road, depending on traffic conditions.
Traveling through scenic landscapes and traditional settlements, the route offers glimpses of the countryside and distant mountain ranges. Kathmandu, the bustling capital city, welcomes visitors with its ancient temples, vibrant markets, and cultural treasures.
Bhaktapur to Patan
Bhaktapur and Patan are two historic cities in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal located approximately 13.4 kilometers apart. The city of Bhaktapur is known for its medieval architecture, pottery, and traditional handicrafts. Patan which is also called Lalitpur is famous for its palaces, temples, and stone carvings.
The journey between the two cities takes around 30–45 minutes and offers a glimpse into the local culture and heritage. Both cities are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and provide visitors with a rich cultural experience.
Bhaktapur to Pokhara
The distance between Bhaktapur and Pokhara is approximately 212.7 kilometers by road. The journey takes you from the historical city of Bhaktapur through Kathmandu, showcasing landmarks like Pashupatinath Temple and Boudhanath Stupa.
As you travel westward, the road gradually ascends, offering scenic views of rural settlements and terraced farmlands. Approaching Pokhara, the road descends, providing breathtaking vistas of the Himalayas, including Machhapuchhre Peak. The journey typically takes 6 to 8 hours by road, offering a blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty.
- Bhaktapur is an ancient city located in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal.
- Postal Code: 44800
- It is also known as Bhadgaon or Khwopa.
- Bhaktapur is one of the three medieval cities in the Kathmandu Valley, along with Kathmandu and Patan.
- The city is famous for its well-preserved historic architecture, art, and culture.
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction.
- The city was the capital of the Greater Malla Kingdom until the 15th century.
- Bhaktapur is renowned for its exquisite woodcarving and pottery craftsmanship.
- The traditional Newari culture is strongly preserved in Bhaktapur.
- The city is home to numerous temples, including the Nyatapola Temple, which is the tallest temple in Nepal.
- Bhaktapur is famous for its festivals, including the Bisket Jatra, a grand celebration held during Nepali New Year.
- Bhaktapur is the smallest district in Nepal in terms of both areas. It covers an area of approximately 119 square kilometers and has a relatively smaller population compared to other districts in Nepal.