Around Bhaktapur

Siddha Pokhari
Durbar Square

Nyatapola Temple

Bhairab Nath Temple

Dattatraya Temple


Bhaktapur, 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:

Siddha Pokhari-This 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 days.

Durbar Square-Bhaktapur 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 manifestation).

(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 fifty-five windows.

(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.

Dattatraya Temple-The 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.