Bhaktapur – Nepal’s Cultural Gem
Bhaktapur is an ancient city and is renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture, colorful festivals, traditional dances and indigenous lifestyle of Newari community.
It is just 12 kilometers east of Kathmandu, but gives the feeling of prehistoric times given the ambiance of traditional homes, lifestyles and environment. The conch shaped historic city is spreading over just an area of 6.88 square kilometer at 1,401 meter altitude. The city was founded in 12th century by King Anand Dev Malla. Bhaktapur was the capital city of the Greater Malla Kingdom in the Kathmandu Valley till the 15th century AD. The many of Bhaktapur‘s greatest monuments were built by the then Malla rulers.
Bhaktapur has more temples per square foot than Patan or Kathmandu and is far enough out of town to keep the crowds away. Unfortunately, the city has been severely damaged by the 7.9 Magnitude Earthquake on 25th of April, 2015 whose epicenter was about 90 kms NW of Bhaktapur. Many buildings and historical temples, including some in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square collapsed.
Once in Bhaktapur, walking is really the only way to experience the quiet, dusty lanes squares. There are no rickshaws, tuk-tuks, or taxis allowed inside the city.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square has the fascinating palace structure of having 55 windows was the seat of royalty before 1769 AD. The building now houses the National Art Gallery. It has a famous Golden Gate dating back to 1756 AD and is the entrance to the marvelous Taleju Temple Complex and number of artistic courtyards including the Royal Bath pond. The Big Bell in the square was erected by Ranajit Malla (1722-1769), last Malla king of Bhaktapur and was used for paying homage to Goddess Taleju and for assemblies of general public.
Taumadhi Square has Nyataponla Temple which dates back to 1702 AD. The colossal five-storied edifice is the country’s tallest pagoda temple. The struts, doors, windows and tympanums—each embellished with attractively carved divine figures—perfectly portray the creative tradition of Newar craftsmen. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi, the manifestation of female force and creativity. Next to the Nyataponla Temple is the rectangular shaped Bhairavnath Temple. It houses a gilded bust of Bhairav, the ferocious manifestation of Lord Shiva. The three-storied pagoda was razed to the grounds by the 1934-earthquake, and its latest renovation was undertaken by Bhaktapur Municipality in 1995 AD.
Dattatreya Square has the Dattatreya Temple as the main attraction of the Square. Constructed by King Yaksha Malla, the giant three-storied temple is believed to have been built with the stem of a single tree. Having defied series of calamities, it still bears testimony to the incredible achievement made in those regal days of the Nepalese history.