or Bhadgaon as the city is also known, is a museum of medieval art
and architecture with many fine examples of sculpture, woodcarving
and colossal pagoda consecrated to different gods and goddesses.
The city is shaped like a conch shell, one of the emblems of the
god Vishnu, and was founded by King Ananda Deva in 889 A.D. The
altitude of the city is 1,402 metres above sea level. Pottery and
weaving are its major traditional industries. The city lies fifteen
kilometres to the east of Kathmandu, and is linked by a highway.
Some of Bhaktapur's important sightseeing places are as follows:
is a big rectangular water tank located near the main city gate.
It was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in the early
fifteenth century and is associated with a number of different myths.
From this spot a wide range of snowy peaks are visible on clear
Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara-style temples
grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood. The
square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the
Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies
of the kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian
deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in
every place - struts, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and
windows all seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony. The main
items of interest in the Durbar Square are:
(a) The Lion Gate-Dating as far back as
1696 A.D., this gate is guarded on either side by two huge statues
of lions. Alongside there are two stone images of Bhairab (the dreadful
aspect of Shiva) and ugrachandi (the consort of Shiva in her fearful
(b) The Golden Gate-The Golden Gate
is said to be the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen of
its kind in the entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure
of the goddess Kali and Garuda (mythical man-bird) and attended
by two heavenly nymphs. It is also embellished with monsters and
other mythical creatures of marvellous intricacy. In the words of
Percy Brown, an eminent English art critic and historian, the Golden
Gate is 'the most lovely piece of art in the whole Kingdom; it is
placed like a jewel, flashing innumerable facets in the handsome
setting of its surroundings'. The gate was erected by King Ranjit
Malla and is the entrance to the main courtyard of the palace of
(c) The Palace of Fifty-five Windows-This
magnificent Palace was built during the reign of King Yaksha Malla
in 1427 A.D., and was subsequently remodelled by King Bhupatindra
Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls, with their
gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of fifty-five
windows, considered to be a unique masterpiece of woodcarving.
(d) The Picture Gallery-The Picture
Gallery is of considerable value which contains ancient paintings
belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism of various periods
and descriptions. This gallery is open everyday except Tuesday.
(e) The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla-This
statue showing King Bhupatindra Maila in the act of worship, can
be seen placed on a column facing the palace. Of the square's many
statues, this is considered to be the most magnificent.
(f) Batsala Temple-The stone temple
of Batsala Devi depicts many intricate carvings; however, it is
most famous for its bronze bell, known to local residents as 'the
bell-of barking dogs', as when it is rung, all dogs in the vicinity
begin barking and howling! The colossal bell was hung by King Ranjit
Malla in 1737 A.D. and was used to sound the daily curfew. It is
nowadays rung every morning when goddess Taleju is worshipped.
(g) The Pashupati Temple-This temple
is a replica of the famous temple by the Bagmati river in Kathmandu
and is widely noted for the erotic carvings on its struts. 11 was
built by King Yakshya Malla.
Nyatapola Temple-This five-storeyed
pagoda was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1702 A.D. It stands
on five terraces, on each of which squat a pair of figures: two
famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins, and Baghini
and Singhini - the tiger and the lion goddesses. Each pair of figures
is considered ten times stronger than the ones immediately below,
while the lowest pair, the two strong men Jaya Malla and Phatta
Malla, were reputedly ten times stronger than any other men. This
is one of the tallest pagoda-style temples in Kathmandu Valley and
is famous for its massive structure and subtle workmanship.
Just beside temple is a monastery (Math) with exquisitely carved
peacock windows. These famous windows were also carved during the
reign of King Vishwa Malla. The monastery is full of artistic facades
of latticed windows and engraved columns.
Bhairab Nath Temple-This
is another pagoda temple of lord Bhairab, the dreadful aspect of
Shiva. It stands a short distance away from the temple of Nyatapola
and was originally constructed by King Jagat Jyoti Malla on a modest
scale. It was later remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla, a zealous
lover of the arts, into what it is now a three-storeyed temple.
temple of Dattatraya is as old as the Palace of fifty-five windows.
Consecrated by King Yakshya Malla in 1427 A.D., this temple, according
to popular belief, was built out of the trunk of a single tree.
It was subsequently repaired and renovated by King Vishwa Malla
in 1458 A.D.
There is much more to the Kathmandu Valley than its museum-like
cities. All over the Valley, there are beautiful and interesting
towns, each with its own history and legends, shrines and stupas.
Most of these smaller towns and villages can be approached by car
or bus while others require a good walk or cycle ride. There are
also several scenic spots on the edge of the Valley that command
dramatic views of the great Himalayan peaks. In fact, the Kathmandu
Valley is ideal for a short visit and a mini trek.