From the ancient cities there is profound spirituality, and some of the most generous people in the world. Nepal is a place that many people (including myself) just can not get enough of. The Kathmandu Valley is one of the country’s most amazing areas, and is packed with amazing towns, temples and culture. One of my favorite places is Bhaktapur, a small town within an hour of the giant ,chaotic capital of Kathmandu.
Bhaktapur is the third of Newari medieval cities in the valley; the other two are Kathmandu and Patan. Despite the damage of the 2015 earthquake it remains the best preserved of the three. The ancient city center is car-free, making it really very pleasant to walk its cobbled streets.The entire city is like a living museum, with temples at every corner, busy street markets, and arts and crafts created everywhere you turn. If you are interested in the culture and heritage of Nepal, this is a spot you really need to visit on your trip to Nepal.
Bhaktapur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and hundreds of examples of traditional Newari architecture literally exist here. As you wander through the streets of the city, you will constantly find breathtaking buildings with complex patterns and the classic red brick outside.One of Bhaktapur‘s most impressive examples of architecture is Nyatapola Temple, which is unmissable because of its towering five-tiered roof. You can climb the long steps of the temple, stand beneath the arches and look down over the beautiful views of the Taumadhi Square and the surrounding hills.
Durbar Square (Layaku) is another must-see, still amazing despite the damage from the earthquake. Many of the main temples are undergoing repair and restoration after the quake. Yet, you can also enjoy places such as Bhaktapur’s Golden Gate, an extremely detailed entrance that opens to the royal palace courtyard.
If you’re excited to try some of the most special and traditional cuisine in Nepal ,Bhaktapur is a perfect place to do so. The Newari culture is celebrated here, as is the food, and there are plenty of homely meals on the menu that you would fail to find elsewhere in Nepal. Samay Baji is one such dish, an authentic Newari dish that has been passed down through generations and is made up of many small bites.
You can’t really leave Bhaktapur without trying the local yogurt, Juju Dhau, which is also known as King Curd. This delicious yogurt is served at small shops around the area, in clay pots. It is made of buffalo milk, and has a thick , creamy taste. It is sometimes referred to as the world’s best yogurt and I really have to agree!
Bhaktapur ‘s beauty must have inspired the local people as the town is now home to a whole host of unique arts and crafts. Pottery is one of the major crafts, so head down to Potters’ Square(Talako) to see how local clay pieces are being created. They are all made, fired and painted around this square, from pots to bowls, yogurt cups to souvenirs, and the locals are more than happy to see you.The best time to come here in the late afternoon – when light spills through the square and the potters collect their creations after a day of baking in the sun.
Bhaktapur is also the home of the National Gallery of Art in Nepal. Showcasing an outstanding array of drawings from the nation’s history and traditional artifacts.
Bhaktapur ‘s meaning is, “City of Devotion.” Wake up pretty early and you’ll see why. Women in red dresses and men who scout Dhaka Topi hats bring offers to the little temples scattered around the area. Bhairavnath Temple is one of my favorites to practice local religious devotion.An ornate Hindu temple built with a strikingly detailed golden door, in the typical red brick style. Locals purchase marigolds from nearby market stalls and leave them in the shrine and statues around the entrance to the temple.
Different scenes occur in the city and the best way to start the day is to observe them.Though there’s a lot to see in Bhaktapur, walking around and soaking up the special atmosphere is my favorite thing to do here. Although Kathmandu may feel overcrowded and noisy, Bhaktapur is much more relaxed and quieter. Slowly get to explore the area. Take a few days to enjoy the place ‘s timeless energy, and get to know the locals.It’s the perfect place to unwind after a long trek or taste local culture before heading into the Himalayas.