Bhaktapur: Ancient City of Nepal

Get ready 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 you can discover secrets waiting in every corner.

Bhaktapur Nepal

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, a major city, is located in the Bagmati Province of Nepal. The Bagmati Province, which sits at an average altitude of approximately 1,401 meters (4,596 feet) above sea level, is situated in the central part of the country.

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.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Marvel at the 55window 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’s pottery craftsmanship is renowned, and Pottery Square is the perfect place to witness this ancient art form in action. Skilled potters shape clay with their hands and traditional wheels, creating stunning pots, vases, and decorative items.

Bhaktapur Pottery Square

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).

Chatamari Bhaktapur Food

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

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.

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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.

Bhaktapur Cultural Festival

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.

Durbar Square

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.

bhaktapur

The 55window 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.

Nyatapola Temple

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.

Nyatapola Bhaktapur

Each tier of the temple represents a different deity, symbolizing the gradual ascent from the mundane to the divine.

Pottery Square

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.

Bhaktapur Pottery Square

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

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.

Dattatreya Temple Bhaktapur

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

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

Although technically located a few kilometers outside Bhaktapur, we highly recommend visiting the ancient Changu Narayan Temple. This temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is 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.

Bhadgaule Topi

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

SAARC nationals, including citizens of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Maldives, must pay NPR 150 for entry into Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

SAARC Countries

Foreign Nationals

Visitors from countries other than Nepal and SAARC nations were charged NPR 1,000 as the entry fee to Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

Nepalese Citizens

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.

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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 55Window 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.

Golden Gate Bhaktapur

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.

juju dhau

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

Both create a culinary heaven match and represent a must-try duo in Bhaktapur. Bara, a savory lentil pancake made from black lentils mixed with spices, is fried until golden brown.

Bara Bhaktapur

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.

Chatamari

A trip to Bhaktapur would be incomplete without savoring the famous Chatamari, often referred to as the Nepali pizza.

Chatamari Bhaktapur

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.

Yomari

Prepare your sweet tooth for a delightful encounter with Yomari, a traditional Newari dessert that is both visually appealing and incredibly delicious.

Yomari Bhaktapur

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.

Architecture

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.

Bhaktapur Architecture

Traditional Newari architecture, characterized by intricately carved wooden elements, pagodastyle 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.

Thimi showcases the city’s mastery of pottery at Bhaktapur’s pottery square, 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, which is a testament to Nepal’s rich past and cultural heritage.

Accommodation

Let’s take a look into the enchanting world of Bhaktapur’s accommodations, where tradition seamlessly blends with modern comfort.

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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.

Newari Architecture Hotel

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.

Heritage Hotels

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.

heritage hotel bhaktapur

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.

Eco-friendly Retreats

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

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.

National Art Museum Bhaktapur

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.

Brass and Bronze Museum

The museum showcases Bhaktapur’s metalwork history, from deities to utensils, enriching the local culture and economy.

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.

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Intricately carved windows, doors, and pillars adorned with mythical creatures and divine figures narrate stories of the city’s architectural excellence. The Woodcarving Museum celebrates Bhaktapur’s centuries-old woodwork tradition and skilled craftsmanship.

Famous Jatras of Bhaktapur

Both locals and visitors cherish the Bhaktapur Jatras among the many yearly celebrations. These sacred festivals steeped in tradition offer 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 intricate structure devotes itself to Bhairava, the deity believed to bring good fortune and protect against 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. In this event, this fierce competition symbolizes the cosmic battle between gods and demons, with the victors considered blessed for the year ahead.

Gai Jatra

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.

People believe that this jovial event, filled with music, dance, and laughter, helps the deceased find their way to heaven. Moreover, 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 dedicates itself to the Hindu goddess Bhadrakali, who people consider as the protector of the city. The festival commences with a sacred ceremony at the ancient Taumadhi Square, where they erect and adorn a large wooden pole called “Lingo” with colorful prayer flags.

Sindur Jatra

As dusk falls, the revelry intensifies with the lighting of torches and the enthusiastic throwing of vermillion powder (sindur) at the crowd. As a result, 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.

Kathmandu

Traveling through scenic landscapes and traditional settlements, the route offers glimpses of the countryside and distant mountain ranges. Furthermore, 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.

It earns its reputation for medieval architecture, pottery, and traditional handicrafts, while Patan, also known as Lalitpur, boasts fame for its palaces, temples, and intricate stone carvings.

The journey between the two cities takes around 3045 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. Along the way, your journey takes you from the historical city of Bhaktapur through Kathmandu, allowing you to admire landmarks like the 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.

Facts

  • 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.
  • 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.

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