The nepali word “Bhaktapur” translates to the “City of Devotees”. And the city is rightly termed as such as you can find an abundant array of religious temples in the area. It was founded in the 12th century by King Ananda Malla Bhaktapur.
Nepal was ruled by monarchies for hundreds of years and was only recently changed into a Republic in 2008. Being a landlocked country it was closed off from the world for several hundred years, and was ruled by Malla Kings who in general follow Hinduism. More than eighty percent of the entire population of Nepal are Hindus, while a small percentage of about nine percent are Buddhists.
Bhaktapur is one of the three cities of Kathmandu Valley. The other two are Kathmandu, which is the country’s capital and Patan, or also known as Lalitpur, the oldest city in the entire country.
How to reach Bhaktapur, Nepal?
Bhaktapur is located less than half an hour ride of about thirteen kilometers from the only international airport serving the entire country which is the Tribhuvan International Airport in the country’s capital, Kathmandu.
A typical taxi ride from the airport would cost you around 800 NPR (6.87 USD), although during our visit we had to pay 2,000 NPR (17.17 USD) for a pre-booked airport to hotel transfer, scheduled at 1:00 in the morning. If you’re traveling in daylight it may be best to just haggle your way. Do negotiate your taxi fare before taking the ride to avoid being overcharged, but please remember to do so respectfully and don’t set your deal to low.
To be able to explore this ancient city especially via a self guided tour, you must pay an admission fee of 1,500 NPR (12.84 USD), the ticket is valid for one day and covers all the places found within the area.
The money is said to be for the restoration of the structures and temples that were either damaged or totally destroyed during a massive earthquake a few years earlier.
Where to stay in Bhaktapur?
During our short visit to this ancient city we stayed at the PEACOCK GUEST HOUSE. It is a guest house located inside a renovated 700 year old UNESCO heritage building located at Dattatreya Square #47, 44800, Bhaktapur, Nepal. The check-in time is at 2:00 pm and check-out at 12:00 pm. We booked our rooms through booking.com but you can also book through the hotel’s official website.
We do recommend that you stay in this guest house on your visit, especially the Baithak or Deluxe room. The ambiance of this place beats any other boutique hotel. A night’s stay here is truly memorable.
- VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10, room and bathroom size was worth the price. You’re pretty much paying for the experience to stay in a 700 year old building. The free breakfast and on-site restaurant was exemplary.
- LOCATION: 10/10, was well within walking distance to everything.
- CLEANLINESS: 9/10; cleanliness was up to mark but could be i
Practical things to see in Bhaktapur
To start your exploration of this ancient city, it may be best to download an offline map of the area. We used the maps.me application during our visit. Below are some of the practical things to see in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
Bhaktapur is divided into four main areas namely: the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Pottery Square, Taumadhi Square and lastly the Dattatreya Square.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
It is the main public plaza in Bhaktapur. Upon arrival at the Bhaktapur Durbar Square from the western gate you will first see to your right the Rameshwor Temple (an open temple with four pillars), the Badrinath Temple, the Gopinath Temple, and the Kedarnath Temple.
On your left you will see the National Art Museum, the Golden Gate, and the 55 Windows Palace.
The National Art Museum in Bhaktapur is located inside a former palace named Simhadhwaka Durbar. Admission is priced at 150 NPR (1.29 USD), open daily except Saturdays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The Golden Gate or Lu Dhowka in nepali is an intricately crafted gold plated metal work completed in 1754. It is the entrance to the main courtyard of the 55 Windows Palace. It is also known as the Nepal Gate during the Malla era. At its center stands the patron goddess of the Newar people of Nepal, Taleju Bhawani is a four-headed and ten-armed kul deuta (family deity) of the Malla Kings in the 14th century.
The 55 Windows Palace is a royal palace which by its name has 55 ornately carved windows. It was constructed between 1702 A.D. and 1722 A.D., and was home to royalties until 1769.
The Bhupatindra Malla Statue located in front of the Golden Gate, is a statue of the late Malla Dynasty King, built in 1959.
The Chyasalin Mandap, an octangular pavillion built in the Malla era, found in front of the 55 Windows Palace.
The Siddhi Lakshmi Temple, a stone temple built in the 17th century.
The Mini Pashupatinath Temple or the Yakshyeshwor Temple, a replica of the Pashupatinath Temple found in Gaushala, Kathmandu. It is a Hindu temple built in the 17th century.
Pottery Square or Kumha Tole
This square is another point of interest in Bhaktapur where you can find local potters and pottery products lain to dry in the open spaces.
In this square you can find the Nyatapola Temple, a five-roofed Hindu temple built in 1702. It is the tallest temple in Nepal at a height of over 30 meters.
You can also see the Bhairavnath Temple, a three-tiered Hindu temple, built in the early 17th century in this public square.
The Dattatreya Square is the oldest square in Bhaktapur, here you can find the Dattatreya Temple. The Dattatreya Temple is a three-tiered Hindu Temple, built in 1427. The Peacock Guest House where we stayed at during our visit is also located here.
There are many more temples you can see when you visit Bhaktapur but even just walking along the streets is an enough experience by itself. There is an old world charm you can feel with the structures, the street, the food, and the shops which for us you can’t experience somewhere else.
Thank you for reading all the way through. We hope this is helpful to your future visit to Bhaktapur. You can also check our practical travel guide to Nepal for more information on how you can reach this country in the Himalayas. Once again thank you for reading. Stay safe and travel safe!