Bhaktapur is known as the ‘city of Devotees,’ the ‘city of culture’, the ‘Living Heritage’ and ‘Nepali’s Cultural Gem’. It is one of the three royal cities in the Kathmandu valley. The others are Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and Patan. It is filled with monuments, most terra-cotta with carved wood columns, palaces and temples with elaborate carvings, gilded roofs, and open courtyards. Bhaktapur is an ancient city and is renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture, colorful festivals, traditional dances and indigenous life style of Newari community. It is twelve kilometers east of Kathmandu, capital of Nepal but gives the feelings of pre-historic times given by the ambiance of traditional homes, lifestyles and environment. 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. Many greatest monuments were constructed by the Malla ruler.
Bhaktapur is recognized as Khwopa & Bhadgaon (in the native tongue) an ancient Newa city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley. Khwopa was the largest of the three Newa Kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley and was the capital of Nepal during the great ‘Malla Kingdom’ until the second half of the 15th century. It is historically more isolated than the other two Kingdoms, Kathmandu and Patan. Bhaktapur has the best-preserved Palaces courtyards and old city center in Nepal. The city is dotted with pagodas and religious shrines. Bhaktapur is surrounded by mountains and provides a magnificent view of the Himalayas. Bhaktapur city is one of the beautiful UNSECO World Heritage Sites of Nepal for its rich culture, temples wood, metal & stone art work.
Bhaktapur used to be the ruling throne of the Kathmandu Valley until the King, Yakshya Malla, in 1482, divided the Kingdom between his three sons, eventually fading the strength of unity and losing the nation to the shah dynasty form Gorkha. But, before losing the kingdom to Shah Kings, Bhaktapur was renowned for its Yuddha; a fierce combat between two wrestlers. Hence, one can observe muscular craved wrestlers, as the trademark of the city, into various temples of as the guardian of the city and of the Gods.
Bhaktapurians are proud inhabitants of their city and culture. Most of the men and women would be seen on their traditional dresses. Bhaktapur depends on the occupation of agricultural production (paddy, wheat, corn, millet, citrus, guava, pears, junar, haluwabed, cauliflower, peas, beans, cucumber & pumpkin) and on tourism.
Farmers would been seen here and there carrying vegetables, so, the city is also known as Bhadgaon, which means the city of Rice. The city is famous for a special curd called “Ju Ju (king), dhau (curd). It is experienced by the curd makers that the taste of curd prepared in this location cannot be found elsewhere all over the world. The city has preserved the Newari value as a mother would keep their children safe, so it would be not hard to feel the aroma of ancient Newari culture once reaching the Bhaktapur. The city is considered as the neat city compared to other two cities where tradition and modernization walk in sustainability. Unfortunately, the city has been severely collapsed by the recent 7.9 magnitude Earthquake on 25th of April, 2015. Bhaktapur Durbar Square was one of the least affected historical areas, however several of the older temples are currently reconstructed and reconstruction of structures damaged by the quake is underway.
Bhaktapur is filled with Hindu and Buddhist religious sites and art. There are many Buddhist monuments and shrines including Lokeshwor Mahavihar, Prasannasheel Mahavihar, Jaya kriti Mahavihar, sukravarna Mahavihar, Dipanek Mahavihar and others also. Many festivals are celebrated through the year to mark the seasons, pay to tribute to gods and remember historical and legendary events Such as Dashain, Tihar, Bisket Jatra and Maghe Sankranti and so on.
Venue to recognize:-
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square:-
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara – style temples grouped around of fifty- five windows Palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the valley in the ancient arts of Nepal. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a part of the ancient Newari city of Bhaktapur. The square contains a royal Palace that took center stages as one of three royal capitals during the 15th century in the Kathmandu valley. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of four main attractions; with in the old city known as Bhaktapur. The complex consists of four distinct squares which are Durbar square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square and Pottery square.
It was during the reign of Malla’s that Durbar Square acquired most of its beautiful buildings and prominence as a great city in The Kathmandu Valley when it accumulated the nickname “city of devotees”. The golden effigies of kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place-struts, lintels, upright, tympanums, gate way & windows seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony.
The main things of interest in the Durbar square are:-
- The lion Gate:-
The gate has two stone beautiful images of Bhairav (the dreadful aspect of Shiva) and Ugrachandi (the consort of Shiva inner fearful manifestation). It is guarded on either side by two huge statues of lions.
- The Golden Gate:-
The Golden Gate is the main entrance to the palace which is the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen of its kind on the entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure of the goddess Kali & Garuda (the mythical man bird) and attended by two heavenly nymphs. It is also embellished with mythical creatures of marvelous intricacy. Percy Brown, an eminent English art critic & historian, described the Golden Gate as “the most lovely piece of art in the whole Kingdom; it is placed like jewel, flashing innumerable facets in the handsome setting of its surroundings’’. The gate was erected by King Ranajit Malla & is the entrance to the main courtyard of the Palace of fifty- five windows.
- The Palace of 55 windows:-
The fifty-five window palace that is major attraction of Bhaktapur Durbar Square was built during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla who ruled from 1696 to 1722 AD. The king was also a great composer and has seventeen plays attributed to him. The great builder King laid the foundation stone for the magnificent five storey temple of Bhaktapur, Nyatapau in 1702. His son Ranjit Malla became the last King of his dynasty in Bhaktapur. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting & sculptural design, is a balcony of fifty- five windows, considered to be a unique master -piece of wood carving. Seated on a huge column top in a position of prayer to a God is king Bhupatindra Malla, it is also recognized as one of the oldest monument present in Nepal.
- The statue of King Bhupatindra Malla:-
The statue of King Bhupatindra Malla seated a top on a stone column in an attitude of prayer to Taleju Bhawani. He was a great builder, a scholar and an artist.
- Nyatapola Temple:-
The sky- high roof top of the Nyatapola Temple before Taumadhi Tole. The Nyatapola is in Newari language means five storeys towering 30m above the square which was erected by Nepali King Bhupatindra Malla during seven months period. The temple is reached by stairway flanked by stone figure of the temple guardian. At the bottom of the legendry Rajput wrestlers Jayamel & Phattu, depicted kneeling with hefty maces. Subsequent levels are guarded by elephants with floral saddles, lions adorned with bells, beaked griffons with horns and finally two goddess- Baghini and Singhini. This is the biggest and highest Pagoda of Nepal ever built with such architectural perfection and artistic beauty. The temple’s foundation is said to make wider than its base. This temple is dedicated to Siddilaxmi, tantric goddess of supreme power & success. The idol of the goddess is so fearsome that only the temple’s priest are allowed to enter the inner sanctum, but less brutal incarnations of the goddess appear on the torana above the door, beneath a canopy of braided snakes, and also an the temple’s 180 carved roof struts. In a classic piece of religious cross over, the Buddhist eight lucky signs are carved beside the temple doorways.
- Bhairava Nath Temple:-
It is built in the Pagoda Style, stands adjacent to the more famous five storied Nyatapola temple. Bhairav is the dangerous aspect of Shiva. It was originally built by King Jagat Jyoti Malla and the temple was improved by King Bhupatindra Malla, a jealous lover of the arts. It is dedicated to Kasi Bhairav, the storied temple of Bhairav Nath has only the head of Bhairav in the inner sanctum. According to legend, Kasi Bhairav’s head was cut off by a tantric expert in order to keep him in Bhaktapur.
- Vatsala Temple:-
It was built on shikhara style completely on stones by Jaya Ranajit Malla in the 17th century AD. The temple is dedicated to a mother goddess Durga. It was the stone temple of goddess Vatsala Devi that included many carvings: however, it was most famous for its silver bell, known to local residents as “the bell of barking cats” as when it is rang, dogs in the vicinity bark and howl. The colossal bell was hung by King Malla in 1737 AD and was used to sound the daily curfew. It was rung every morning when goddess Taleju was worshipped. The temple was completely destroyed by the 2015 earthquake.
- Mini Pashupati Temple:-
Pashupatinath temple is dedicated to lord Shiva as Pashupati and is originally built by Yakshya Malla. Some people call it a royal dream temple. It is the oldest temple in Durbar square like many temples, the roof struts feature erotic images, but what exactly the dwarf is doing with that bowl takes things to a new level. Some people call it a royal dream temple. According to folklore, once a Bhadgaon king who was a great devotee to Lord Pashupati had a dream in which Lord told the King to a build a temple for a Pashupati right in front of palace.
- I) Dattatreya Temple:-
The Dattatreya square is where the royals resided until 15th century. On these day, one finds the square sprinkled with traces of the time- ridden architecture including old residential houses resembling the palaces in its wood and stonework. It is located in the Tachupal Tole. It graciously flaunts two museums of bronze and woodcarving but the square is widely known for the temple that is Dattatreya Temple. The temple of Dattatreya is believed to be constructed by a single stem of single tree in 1428 during the rule of King Yakshya Malla. The temple built in Pagoda style which has three tiers and there are two huge stone statutes of two popular wrestlers of time, Jaya Malla and Patta, at the temple steps. In front of the temple is a stone pillar on the top of which a stone image of Garuda is placed in Kneeling position. The entire temple is made up of exquisitely carved wood which are dark brown in color.
The statue of a body with three heads which can see idols of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva on the left center and the right respectively. A huge trestands behind those pagoda, there is statute of Anasuya Mata and it depicts the story of Mata turning Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva into children, at the request of their wives, they went to test her power of chastity. The temple has great significance in Nepal’s religious and cultural heritage. The temple is dedicated to Dattatreya who is considered as a combination of the three powerful Hindu Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Although, the carvings on the temple indicate the influence of Vishnu more than other gods. It also has high religious significance to shaivities, Vaishnavities & Buddhists.
- J) Pottery Square:-
Pottery square is one of the beautiful tourist sites of Bhaktapur. This square is famous for artistically shaped potteries made out of clay. Tourists love to see potteries made of clay before their eyes. It is lovely to see the earthenware made with raw clay by hand or in wheels. Some tourists even move the wheels for a memorable experience. The Prajapati caste have been a part of this oldest occupation of Bhaktapur since the ancient Malla times. The local pots are of the onion that made from clay are good for the health. Juddha Shamsher of Rana Regime used to eat things made only in clay pots. Juddha Shamsher even took clay made pots during his visit to Great Britain. Taluko is the name of Pottery Square lying very close to historical Five- storey Temple of Bhaktapur. Once historical story, Taluko was believed to be an unholy place and unfir for human habitation. Pottery square is at distance of 200m from the Five- Storey Temple.
- K) The peacock window:-
The Peacock window is one of the popular tourist destinations situated in Dattatreya of Bhaktapur in the 15th century by the King Yaksha Malla. The peacock window is located in the second floor of Pujari shrine near the main temple of Dattatreya. It is the largest shrine among the several present in Bhaktapur. Soldiers and Royal officials close to the King Haksha used to live there. One can observe many kinds of artistic shapes in this historical shrine. Each and every window and door has got different artistic design which is the main feature of this building. It is believed that carpenters involved in the construction of this shrine might have competed with each other. The bricks used in the shrine were replaced as the previous ones got destroyed in the earthquake. Peacock is a beautiful and wild bird. Hindus worship peacock as the vehicle of God Kumar whereas Buddhists as the Vehicle of Abhitav Buddha. It is a belief that one who watches peacock dance will have favourable and fruitful time; this is why a peacock window might have been built during the regime of Yaksha Malla so that time will famous the town’s people. This building is a museum of ancients handicrafts and paintings for an observation with a fixed fee for the public. The museum remains closed on Tuesday and public holidays.
- The Art Gallery:-
It contains ancient paintings belonging to the Hindu & Buddhist traditions pf various periods and descriptions. This gallery is opened every day except Tuesday.
- Siddha Pokhari:-
Siddha Pokhari is known as Ta Pukhu which is a big rectangular water pond near the main city gate. It was built during rule of the medieval King Yakshya Malla in the early 15th century and is associated with a number of myths. The human made pond is 171 m long, 73m wide and about 3m deep.
It is known as Indra Daha and every year, on the day of Ashwin Krishna Dwitiya (the next day of Indra Jatra festival), a large fair takes place here. The devotees take holy dips in the Pond and worship goddess indrayani afterwards with a belief that goddess will be pleased and give family happiness and her blessings. There are idols of Shaiva, Shakti, Buddhist and Baishnav sects from Lichhavi to Malla around the temple and there is a tradition of worshipping Basuki Nag (serpent god) with tantric methods in drought asking for rain. It is in one of traditional ponds of Bhaktapur which is popular among the people of Nepal. The pond is place to hang out with friends and also parents bring their children to enjoy the pleasure of feeding the numerous fishes in the Pond.
- Changu Narayan:-
Changu Narayan is situated at the top of the hill surrounded by a forest of Champak tree and people from Newar community live in and around Changu Narayan area. The Temple is located in Changu Naryan of Bhaktapur District, Nepal. The hill is about seven miles east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. The Manahara River flows beside the hill. This ancient temple dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu is one of the most important temple of Nepal. This temple is the oldest Hindu temple in the history of Nepal. Built in the two- tiered Pagoda style, the main shrine is guarded on all sides by pairs of real and mythical beasts – elephant, lions, winged lion and ram- horned griffons and its roof struts feature same amazingly intricate carvings of Tantric deities. The temple, built around the third century, is bedecked with same of the finest samples of stone, wood and metal craft, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the ancient temple has been a preferred destination for foreign tourists. Their lies a museum near to the temple for those who want to know about the history of the temple and Lichhavi era’s King Mandev.
Changu Narayan is the name of Vishnu, and the temple is dedicated to him. A stone slab discovered in the vicinity of the temple dates to the 5th century and is the oldest such stone inscription discovered in Nepal. It was built after old temple was collapsed and many stone sculptures here date to the Lichhavi Period. The temple is doubled roofed structure where the idol of Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Narayan is deified. The exquisitely built temple has intricate roof struts showing multi- armed Tantric deities. A kneeling image of Garuda the Vahana or Vehicle of Vishnu with a snake around its neck, faces the temple. The glided door depicts stone lions guarding the temple. The Glided windows also flank the door. A conch and a disc, symbols of Vishnu, are carved on the two pillars at the entrance. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. Changu Narayan and its associated buildings were badly affected by the 2015 earthquake, however restoration of the complex is under way.
- Kailashnath Mahadev Statute:-
Kailashnath is the world’s tallest Shiva Statute which is situated in Sanga, on the border of the Bhaktapur and Kavrepalanchowk districts in Nepal, about 20 km from Kathmandu. The statue is built by Mr. Kamal Jain.
Shiva statute (122 feet) complex at Sanga, located 20km east of Kathmandu, is spread in 4, 00,000 square feet area & houses a 16 deluxe room resort, spa, yoga, health club & meditation center. It has children’s Park, physiotherapy, steam & sauna bath facilities. The statue, which is made of cement, concrete and iron is coated with zinc & copper. It depicts Lord Shiva carrying a trishul in his hand while a snake is resting on his shoulder. Apart from the Kailashnath Mahadev statute, there is a good-looking statute of the whole family (Shiva, Parvati, Kumar & Ganesh) in the stairs leading to the main statue having Shiva-lingas of different forms of Lord Shiva. An imprint of Buddha’s face can be made out on the figure’s chest which is a rare coincidence in a country where Hinduism & Buddhism go side by side.
- Hanuman Ghat:-
Hanumanghat is located in ward number six of Bhaktapur Municipality is reserved as one of the holy places which was constructed by King Bhupatindra Malla. He was a cluster of idols of different deities, shrines, Ram Janaki temple, Shiva Linga etc. The largest idol of Shivalinga in Bhaktapur, which is the main attraction of this place. The spot is mostly visited by foreign tourists. Near to the temple, there is called Hanumante River. Devotees throng the temple from early morning every day.